Malawian film actress Silvia Tapiwa Gwaza has won ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role’ in this year’s Africa Movie Academy Awards (AAMA) at an event held in Bayelsa, Nigeria, on the April 10, 2010.

Gwaza , a former cabin crew member for Air Malawi who resigned after 13 years, acted in the Malawi movie, Seasons of a Life, written, shot, edited and directed by Charles Shemu Joyah of Fine Dawn Arts.

“I was very confused when I was declared the winner of the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. When I said Chineke, it came from deep within my heart.

“Coming to Nigeria was a big deal. When I watch their films I was always mesmerised but to grace the same event and be on stage with Rita Dominic is too good a dream to be true,” Gwaza told ArtMatters.Info of Nigeria.

Seasons of a Life got nominations in 8 categories.

Flora Suya, the lead actress, was up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. She lost to a “worthy contender”, Jackie Appiah Agyemang of Ghana who was crowned the best actress in Africa for her lead role in “Perfect Picture”.

Gwaza, who said her role as the lawyer for a domestic worker sexually molested by her employer was her first in acting, attributed her victory to God.

“I got in Seasons for Life by chance two months after it had commenced. It was a tough assignment as I had to memorise lines under the guidance of the director and production manager,” Gwaza said.

“I was working with more experienced stage actors, something that made me think I wasn’t good enough. I always looked like the under-dog in their presence,” she said.

Now that she is starting to win awards, Gwaza attributes this to “God’s doing. He wants me to do something for Him.”
“Now that I’ve won, I’m more motivated and inspired though am unsure of what the future holds for me. I want to continue acting. If my acting can contribute to the welfare of my 11- and 8-year-old sons and 16-year-old niece, I could consider it as a career. I can live the veterinary work to a manager while I pursue my dream,” Gwaza said.

“From our eight nomination, only mine was turned into an award bearing in mind I wasn’t a professional. I am excited!”

Gwaza said she was so overwhelmed that she couldn’t lift herself up to go on stage to receive her award.

“It is Mrs Alice Joyah who helped me up. Then I realised I hadn’t even prepared a speech. That was why I invoked the name of God. I shall now show off my AMAA statuette to encourage youngsters to live up to their dreams and Malawi to invest in young people,” she said.

On her part, Suya said she was not disappointed not to have won the award in the leading role but was excited that her acting was recognised at continental level.

“Though my hopes were very high that I would win the prize, I came to accept the verdict of the jury; that God has his way of doing things.

“It’s like he has a script for all of us humans and we are the actors. Just the AMAA nomination is good enough for us,” Suya, a hair dresser is quoted by ArtMatters.Info.

“I was expecting to find directors in Ghana or Nigeria to cast me in their movies. I will now do more stage acting at home as I await opportunity to get on screen.”

The win by Gwaza and nominations of Charles Shemu Joyah’s Seasons of Life for the Best Screenplay, Best Original Soundtrack made Malawians proud.

“In moments like these, I feel proud to see compatriots do well at the continental level. Keep it up Shemu Joyah and the entire team at First Dawn Arts!” commented well known Malawian poet, Stanley Onjezenani Kenani on his blog.

*PICTURE: Tapiwa Gwaza from left in a ‘Chineke’ shout receiving her award and then middle picture in Tapiwa and Flora Suya in Season of Life and picture left Tapiwa and Suya in Nigeria