By Tata Mbunwe
For the past few days, many Cameroonians have been surprised to learn that the “Black Panther” movie star, Constance Ejume, is a Cameroonian.
The award-winning Hollywood actress and producer has made a number of media outings since she returned home last week. She is also due to train some young Cameroonians in acting, a training she has scheduled for Buea Mountain Hotel on May 13 and 14.
The fascinating thing about Ejume’s homecoming is that she wants to connect to her roots. Despite living most of her life in the United States of America, she has remained conscious of her origins, Cameroon, where she was born.
In a recent interview with Cam10 television, she said she is passionate about African and especially Cameroonian stories being on the international movie scene.
“I enjoy African cinema. The African cinema that I’m exposed to the most is what ends up being shown in the West. So if there are things that are released internationally, that I become aware of, I try to watch as many African films as I can. I prefer Cameroonian cinema, in particular,” she said.
She advised young Cameroonian filmmakers and actors to exploit technology to tell their own stories to the international world.
She said that they should read story books, which will help them “cultivate an interest in storytelling”.
“I think now we have devices like iPhones, where you can use technology to tell stories, to make short films, you can put your work on Instagram, you can put your work on YouTube.”
She added that aspiring filmmakers should “start small” and should not strive to be perfect, but to use social media and other technology to publicize their works.
The biggest problem for young movie actors and producers in Cameroon and in the world, she said, is to get their content distributed, a challenge she has also faced as a filmmaker.
But she said she overcame this by taking her movies to film festivals and shows, where they got publicized.
Ejume has produced a number of shows, films and short films, among them “Ben & Ara”, a feature film for which she won an AMAA award for producing.
She has also been concerned about the deadly armed conflict going on in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions and the poor international visibility it has.
To publicize the conflict, in 2019 she produced a one-person show, “Ghost Town”, in which she played different roles.
“What motivated me to do this project was the fact that there’s a lack of awareness about the ‘Anglophone Crisis.’ So a huge component of the show is the presentation of audio-visual materials, which provide the audience with much needed context about how things came to be the way they are today,” she told an entertainment blog in an interview.
She is also widely known for starring in the movie “Black Panther” as Dora Milaje, a warrior. She received a SAG award for the movie.
She has also starred in Jennifer Lopez’s music video as an African Warrior Queen, and in Beyonce’s “Black is King”.
Biography and education
Constance Ejume is a passionate filmmaker who was born in the South-west Region of Cameroon before moving to Washington DC, where she was raised.
She started acting at a young age and later attended the University of Toronto, where she obtained a BA in Theatre.
She later got a Master’s in Mass Communication from the University of Leicester in England, and in July 2022, the University offered her an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.