Twenty-one-year old Kelvin Ngoma had a dream and he is now living it. This has all been possible through his involvement in the Hollywood produced movie The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.
In an interview with Chill, Ng’oma said: “I always wanted to be an actor since I was young. I used to love movies which inspired me.”
It has been quite a story for Ngoma. From the humble beginnings in Area 23 in Lilongwe to brushing shoulders with revered Hollywood actors such Joseph Marcel who is known for his role in Will Smith’s Sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air and actor-cum director Chiwetel Ejiofor who starred in 12 Years a Slave.
His role as Charity in the movie also brought him close to names such as Aissa Maiga (Le Reve), Lemogang Tsipa (Troy The Fall of The City) and Noma Dumezyan who starred in Harry Potter.
“A certain journalist from Michigan in the United States who saw the movie tweeted about my performance and that provided a lot of motivation for me,” he said.
Maybe his way to the top would not have been as fast as it has been. He has in part to thank the genius in William Kamkwamba whose innovation of a turbine power engine in his home district of Kasungu inspired a novel which was later to be adapted into a movie which he starred in.
The young actor was one of the nine Malawians who took leading roles in The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, apart from many other locals who had small supporting roles.
However, Ngoma did not earn the role on a silver platter as he had to undergo auditions three times, on three different occasions.
He said: “After attending the first two auditions, I was called again after some months. This time the auditions were conducted in Kasungu by Chiwetel himself. The same day they gave me the role.
“It so happened that the role I was given was already assigned to someone. But after seeing my performance, the director had to switch our roles. That is how I ended up playing Charity.”
Ngoma’s acting journey, which started with a modest role in the locally produced movie Romeo in 2015, has since seen him been cast of eight films. He has starred in Joyce Mhango Chavula’s Nyasaland, Elson Kambalu’s Fisi, Satelite Multimedia’s Caroline and Screen Writers Guild’s Nyambo.
He has also taken part in Brenda Mselu’s production Submerged and has some roles on adverts including one from the Netherlands.
His going has, however, not been all that rosy.
“I have experienced both sides in my acting career. When I started out, I used to dig deep in my pocket to sustain my ambition. I, however, did not give up. I really wanted to make a name for myself, so I jumped from one theatre to another. Now the story is different,” he said.
Though he does not consider his story done yet, but he considers his time on set shooting The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind as one his most memorable experiences.
“It was amazing. The director knew exactly what he was doing. I learnt from the best. Everything we needed was right there on set. We were treated as kings,” he said.
The movie’s production unit manager Jones Mbera was also left awed with the dedication and belief that Chiwetel showed in producing the award-winning film.
“At first, I could not believe that it will be possible but looking at the courage the director had towards the story, I knew it will be a big movie.
“We have good stories in Malawi, with better organisation people, can always come in to help us,” he said.
Last week, the Malawian inspired movie was named 2019 Alfred P. Sloan Future Film prize winner complete with a $20 000 cash reward. It is also set to be shown on Netflix. It will also be screened at the Berlin Film Festival from February 7 to 17. n