Linda Nabasa is a social artiste famous for her 2014 play, Muyenga Mansion. The actress, poet, and social worker, who goes by the name, Ms Nada, has gone on to act in different shows, including The Afro Man Spice show, which has received raving reviews in the media. The 29-year-old has a degree in Business Administration.
First, you are a poet. How did your love for poetry develop?
I joined a poetry writing competition in Senior Three and won a prize of Shs180,000. Today, I have more than 1,000 poems and to lighten up the serious topics, I incorporate everyday life in them. At some point, I wanted to share my work with a larger audience, so I became a performance poet at Open House on Buganda Road. I got onto the stage by mistake because it was another Linda that had been called. I wanted to sound different from the other performers so I read out my poem in a Nigerian accent. The audience loved it!
How did you develop the love for acting and what was your first play about?
I grew up watching Nigerian movies. I love Ini Edo and watching her in film inspired me very much. When I was much younger, I used to look like her and people would tell me so, so I began to think that if I look like her then I can also act like her. With poetry, you only spend about five minutes on stage and I realised I needed to start making a living. At some point, the applause stopped being enough.
In 2015, two friends invited me to perform a three-woman play, The Afro Man Spice, a poetic monologue musical. I acted as a mentally ill woman being abused in her relationship. The play was basically about three black women narrating their relationships, longings, wishes, and spices. It was meant to last an hour but it took two hours because we enjoyed ourselves on stage at The National Theatre. The play was a success. Now we are planning our own series and short films.
You are a poet. How did this help you in your quest to be an actress?
Oh! It helped a lot. When I started out as a performing poet, I was already performing in front of people. So confidence and self-esteem came naturally, and then, the more I performed poetry, I started getting a following. Once I ventured into acting, the audience already knew me, so it was not so hard selling the shows to the public.
Your acting is different, in that you are in a poetry monologue of three women. How feasible is it to have three people in a play, as opposed to over 50 hands?
In terms of international festivals, they do not want to invite groups that have so many artistes. It is also easier to manage a small group and in such a group, decision making is much easier.
Do you have to be funny to succeed in acting?
I believe so. It is a quality I have, so maybe I am being biased by saying that. My writing is also funny, so naturally I like to make people laugh when I am acting.
What disposition should one have to choose an acting career?
You need to be versatile. You should be able to play different characters and speak like different people. Confidence and self-esteem are important.
Is it hard to change from the actress to yourself?
No. My stage persona is so different from who I am when I am not on stage. I like to keep it that way.
How can one succeed at making a career and earning a living out of acting?
First off, know the people in the industry. Make these people your friends and mentors. You have to be in the know of what is happening. Then, look out for auditions. If you are as bold as I am, start your own shows, nights or productions.
Also, you can decide and say instead of going to people, you want the people to come to you. That requires a lot of creativity and collaborations. Be ready to fail because it is through failing that you can know what works and what does not. Do not look down on acting roles. The industry is quite small, everyone knows each other, so be good to everyone, but do not forget to know your worth as an actor; do not allow to be used by any one.
Were your parents happy with your choice of career?
My mother, in particular, told me that after I get my degree, I am free to pursue whatever career I want. And I am glad she advised me that way. My studies have been very helpful in my artistic career. I am building my brand and I want to be a different kind of artiste; a versatile business-minded creative. Generally my parents are supportive.
What is your advice to those who want to make a career out of acting?
Listen to the people around you, but sieve the information you get. No one should tell you that you cannot act or be an artiste. If you believe in yourself, and you are ready to put in the hard work and time, then you are destined for greatest. However, once you are at the top, do not be arrogant. Never forget where you come from.