Eleanor Nansibo Nabwiso, 31, is a Ugandan award-winning actress and film director at Nabwiso Films.
“The adventure and diversity in the film industry got me interested in acting. That you can be someone else or tell someone’s story and make others believe, is amazing. It is also amazing to express yourself through film to the world,” Eleanor tells The EastAfrican.
Eleanor got married to Mathew Nabwiso in 2014 and they have four children. They met in 2010 on the set of the popular TV drama series, The Hostel that ran on NTV Uganda between 2011 and 2015 — where they were both acting.
The Hostel revolves around the life of a group of university students living in a hostel and Eleanor plays Hope, a born-again Christian girl trying to cope with the temptations of campus life.
Mathew (managing director/producer) and Eleanor (creative director) founded Nabwiso Films (U) Ltd with a vision of changing lives in communities through film.
Award after award
In 2019, Eleanor directed Bed of Thorns, a drama tackling gender-based violence. Bed of Thorns, which was the first all-female crew film in Uganda won four accolades at the 2019 Uganda Film Festival.
Bed of Thorns also won Best Screenplay and Best Africa Focus Film at the 2019 London Art-house Film Festival.
The 2016 film Rain, on keeping hope alive against all odds, won five awards at the Pearl International Film Festival Awards. Rain won her three awards: Best Actress in East Africa at the International Festival of Cinema and Audiovisual of Burundi; Best Feature Film in Africa and the Middle East in NURAINE Festival; and Best Women’s Rights Film at the 2017 London Eye Film Festival.
Their new TV series Family that currently runs on NTV Uganda revolves around family drama due to the characters’ diverse backgrounds. She won the Best Actress in TV Drama award in Family at the 2019 Uganda Film Festival.
Takeaways from a rising screen star
What’s your off-duty passion?
I love to hang out with friends and family and read novels and health articles. There is so much to learn about health and nutrition that some people call me a ‘health freak.’
If you were not acting and directing, what would you have been doing?
I would have been an information technology specialist because my degree was information science technology or in public relations as I am good at public speaking, or even a doctor.
What signifies your personal style?
Most of the time casual, playful, and outspoken. I speak my mind and will always say it as it is.
How do you manage your wardrobe?
Comfort first. I wear t-shirts and jeans or short dresses and sneakers. But at the end of the day, I will switch up my style according to events I am showing up for.
While in East Africa, where are you most likely to spend your Saturday afternoon?
I will usually be at a children’s playground catching up with the little ones. Or at a children-friendly restaurant so that we get to leave late. We look to try different places.
What is your best destination in East Africa?
That would be Zanzibar whose beaches are amazing. They are literally strung along the same road so I got a chance to hop from one to another. The views and activities are all different and I love the water activities.
Any must-visit list?
Not really a bucket list, but there is of course Ibiza of which I have heard so much about and seen pictures and watched videos of.
Which is East Africa’s greatest strength?
Wildlife, weather, and the nature. I have travelled to so many countries and it is all mortar and brick sites but in East Africa you get it in its natural and original form. I pray historical and wildlife sites are not tampered with.
Best collection of books or music, or other?
Books are led by The Sands of Time by Sydney Sheldon and The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day by John C. Maxwell. As to music, I have many original DVDs of artistes I have loved from as far back as my college days.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
Love. I say this because as a wife and a mother, there is no better gift I could have ever imagined giving to my husband and children. Everything else that is material can go to waste but the gift of love remains timeless.
Which big book have you read recently?
The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day by John C. Maxwell. I gained leadership knowledge from it having taken on film production as a full-time career in Nabwiso Films as director.
The film industry is still dominated by men. How are women faring?
Not bad actually because so many women are doing well in the industry.
You and your husband are in film and TV production. What happens to your children when you are all away on production?
We take turns and so we are on set at different times. But if we have to both be on at the same time, we are blessed with a big family as our mothers and sisters help out.