LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Nancy Handabile is as boisterous as she is talented. Always a performer, it is hard not to fall under the charm of one of Zambia’s most talented and celebrated filmmakers.
Ms Handabile’s acting career started when she was only five-year-old. She starred in various church plays.
“I was the go-to child to cast in plays at my church; I followed instructions and always put up good performances. Everyone knew if they’ll do a play Nancy had to be in it,” she gushed.
Not content with just acting, Ms. Handabile staged her first play at the age of 12. She produced, directed and acted in her production, and it was then that she knew that her future lay both behind and in front of the camera.
“My first play was a huge success; the school hall was full, and people loved it. After that I staged a couple more plays both at school and at church,” she continued.
Ms Handabile has gone on to carve out a successful career in Zambia. She is the first and only Zambian actress to have been nominated for an Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice award in the best supporting actress category. Last year she was named as one of the top eight actresses in Southern Africa by Multichoice, and this year she was named Women of the Year in film at the Stanbic Bank Anakazi Women of the Year Awards.
“I was incredibly honoured to be nominated for an AMVCA, I was nominated with Liz Benson; she is one of my favourite actresses. Getting named as a top eight filmmaker in Southern Africa and winning an Anakazi Award make me so happy, because my efforts are not going to waste - people see my work and appreciate it.”
Anakazi Banking was introduced by Stanbic Bank in 2017 and focuses on both increased access to finance and capacity-building activities for women entrepreneurs.
This year the bank sponsored the Anakazi Women of the Year awards that honoured exceptional women in various fields from agriculture to mining to music.
Ms Handabile’s success has not come without challenges, and although she is a celebrated filmmaker, she still faces pitfalls.
“I find that I constantly have to prove myself in our industry. As a female film-maker people don’t care what you have done in the past, they still want to disrespect you because you are a woman. That is hard to deal with.”
These challenges however have not stopped Ms Handabile from dreaming big and aiming for the stars.
“I want to win an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy, even a BAFTA. I believe I can, I would also like to star in Francophonic films. I would like to be known as a Pan-African actress and that is why I have been collaborating with many African filmmakers,” she said.
Her collaborations and talent have taken her across Africa. She has worked in Kenya, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe.
Currently Ms Handabile is working as an associate producer for BBC Africa and stars on the hit show Zuba.
In the future she would like to make a film about a strong Zambian woman.
“I want to make a film about a Zambian woman, I believe we are unique, strong and we hold very interesting stories. I’m excited about my future, it looks very bright.”