From obscurity to stardom: Rwandan actress Oceanne Iradukunda to star in Hollywood TV series

October 21, 2019 at 11:23 am | News

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

October 21, 2019 at 11:23 am | News

Belle Oceanne Iradukunda. Photo credit: The New Times

Constantly overlooked back home, 22-year-old Belle Oceanne Iradukunda kept soldiering on with a determination to succeed in her chosen field – acting.

“I have been told that I am not good enough or won’t be able to act a certain part, yet I am sure that I can. If I wasn’t strong, I could have given up a long time ago,” the Rwandan told The New Times.

Iradukunda persevered, despite the rejection which paid off as she will be cast in a new Hollywood comedy series— ‘Sistas’

Sistas is an upcoming American television comedy-drama series, written and produced by Tyler Perry, one of the leading Hollywood producers. It will air on US Television BET on October 23.

Iradukunda’s rise began immediately after she had coincidentally met with Perry when she attended an event in the United States hosted by Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles.

“Well, I must say it was a blessing in disguise. It’s funny how I met him,” she said. 

The event had been long and exhaustive to Iradukunda and while relaxing Perry popped up to where she was, greeted and introduced himself as Perry.

Photo credit: The New Times

It was after he left that the name pricked Iradukunda. That was when she realized to her dismay she had been speaking to the famous producer.

“The short conversation I had with him somehow enabled me to go for his auditions,” Iradukunda observed, marking the beginning of her rise.

“We had a chat and he asked me what I did, and I responded that I was an actress.

“He asked me whether I encountered any challenges as an actress and I said it is tough because I have an accent that I have been trying to mimic but it wasn’t working out,” Iradukunda said.

She became emotional and broke down in tears during the chat, recalling how tough it had been for her to get roles in films. 

“I have been rejected; God knows how many times,” Iradukunda opened up to Perry, but added quickly that she was staying focused regardless of the hurdles.

Perry encouraged her and told her not to worry because she was yet to taste the positive side of acting. “He [Perry] urged me not to stop pursuing my dreams,” Iradukunda said. 

Perry took Iradukunda’s mobile phone number and after a few days, she received a call from his casting Director at Tyler Perry Studios and the rest was history. 

Iradukunda is playing a friendly waitress to the four main casts; KJ Smith, Mignon Von, Ebony Obsidian and Novi Brown. 

“Acting with them was a whole new experience of learning,” she said, noting that: “This is a breakthrough for my acting career.”

Even before the series air, Iradukunda had already been contacted by different producers to work on other projects. “I must say, I have been exposed to the world, and I will never be the same again because I believe, doors to greater opportunities are yet to open,” she stated.

For Iradukunda acting alongside KJ Smith, Mignon Von, Ebony Obsidian and Novi Brown “is a great experience as I get to learn how they act so natural and pull off perfectly any role given to them.”

Inspired by Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, Iradukunda said she’s “endowed to use my talent to employ Rwandans.”

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