Ellen Mubwanda was born Davidzo Ellen Mubwandarikwa on the 3rd of September 1995. She grew up in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, amidst the hustle & bustle of the city life. Her junior school education was in Blakiston Junior School where all of her future interests would be incubated. Ellen is the oldest out of 4 siblings.
She grew up a busy but curious child, forever wandering about in her environment. Valerie, Ellen’s mother is always quoted saying “Yes, being a firstborn, and having a tough Dad, she wanted so much to please. I knew she’d would be some sort of an activist somehow”. This turned out accurately with Ellen’s passionate advocacy for Women & Children’s rights. Her love for writing began very early, at about 7 years old.
Her parents testify to little vividly decorated “How was your day” , You’re the best Dad” & “I’m very sorry” notes, that would be written almost every day. Her first ever stage performance was in 1st grade though it was short-lived because she was too self-conscious. As a result, she shied away from plays & was as uneasy with speeches.
The peak of her abilities was heightened in India where she graduated with a Triple Major Degree in Economics, Political Science & Sociology. After losing her father in early 2016, she fell into a 2-year depression that gave birth to her WordPress blog where she found solace. Most of the pieces she writes on this blog revolve around grief, love, religion, travel, sex, and poetry. In University she would compete and win in various poetry and prose competitions. In this period, Ellen got acquainted with McPotar, an animator, on Facebook and together they worked on an animated series that was later on called Pajecha where she voices multiple female characters. A number of these episodes were recorded and released without any of the members have met and for the most part, they were in different countries.
Upon returning to Zimbabwe in 2017, Ellen embarked on her first debut feature film titled ‘State of Malambia’ produced & directed by Marc T Mandisoul. She played the role of the Princess Thandiwe.
It was premiered twice on National Television. First on Christmas Day & secondly on New Year’s Eve of December 2018. Her second film is a TV series called “House of Stone”, & her character is Natsai, a journalist looking for trouble by doing a story on one of the most dangerous families of all time! This can also be found on ZBCTV in a little time.
One of the most interesting features about Ellen Mubwanda has to be the way she’s a modern renaissance woman. This female has gotten herself 3 different degrees, ventured into the film industry, established the Blogger title, split through Zimbabwean animation, and functioned as a Production Manager for the State of Malambia. As if that wasn’t enough! Ellen is part of a fast-growing Digital Marketing company called Afrodigital where she’s the Event Organiser & Online Content Creator! These are limits she has been able to reach at just 23 years of age. All things equal, we wonder how much more she’d have undertaken.
Her debut film, State of Malambia is what really opened her up to the public eye. Her makeup and outfits in the film were unavoidably striking apart from her applaudable performance! She put in a lot of work and we know this is just the beginning. State of Malambia can be rented on TelOne’s DEOD from June if anyone is interested in her acting prowess. When asked about her experience playing Princess Thandiwe, this is what she had to say, “I never auditioned for the role. I was only there on the day auditions were happening because I was helping Marc Mandisoul to edit some parts of the script. Because I had spent so much time with the script, I knew everyone’s lines and would randomly help out when someone forgot their lines or had trouble knowing how to say certain phrases.
Princess Thandiwe was one of the last characters to be cast because Marc still felt he hadn’t found the right person. So whenever someone was trying to get the part I’d try to help them say things the right way till Marc just flipped and said, ” The hell Ellen! It’s been you the whole time! You’re the right Thandiwe!” I was dumbstruck and fought the idea. Marc has been very helpful and most of what I know in the film industry is what I learned from him. I’m extremely appreciative.”
The Pajecha short animated series is also a huge part of Ellen Mubwanda’s online presence. This show has grown remarkably within the last 2 years. It began as very informative 5-minute clips called “African Dynasty”, which focused on educating the world on the most influential African figures in history. This show required huge amounts of research on material that was not in the least biased. It then swerved into other 5 minute clips of an animated sitcom called Tsano. This was a very satirical production that zoomed in on the life of a bachelor called Tsano and his daily life experiences in the ghetto. The project was accepted by the media almost immediately with the only animator being Michael ‘McPotar’ Mupotaringa. As McPotar’s animation skills got better, more characters were added into the storyline and Ellen found herself voicing more than one character. When questioned about her experiences, she responded by saying,
“McPotar is extremely multi-faceted and talented! I found most of his work very exciting and imagine my shock when he asked me to help co-write African Dynasty and Tsano. I agreed immediately but it’s the voice-overs that took my heart in. When the first episode ever was completed, I remember sitting on my bed, cross-legged with my headphones on max just listening to the clip over and over again. It felt so intimate and I knew I’d found something I’d cherish for a very long time. What was even more astounding was the fact that when we began, McPotar was in South Africa, I was in India, Monalisa (another really cool and talented Presenter and actress!)was in Zimbabwe & Aytee (the rapper, singer and beatmaker) was all the way in Cyprus! We had never met but the team just worked so perfectly!”. As time progressed and more characters were created, Unthinq (which is the animation studio’s registered company name)got into a collaboration with Madhorofiya (run by King Kandoro) which has its own animation as well. Views doubled and the show just got better. An episode is released every week on YouTube and it’s hilarious & relatable! Episodes on African Dynasty can also be found on YouTube.
Going forward, Ellen Mubwanda’s prospects are on more film productions, more animation, and double the fun! She is a true ordinary example of how interesting life can get if it’s not confined to ‘familiar’ ground.