Rising Star Spotlight: Get To Know Winnie Mzembe

Winnie Mzembe is an African Australian actress specializing in film, theatre, and voice-over work. She began her acting career at an early age. Since gaining a scholarship into the senior extension programs with the Acting Academy (AAA), she continued studies with the School of Excellence program under the strict teachings of the Queensland Actors Playhouse (QAP). She continued work on various short films and sold-out theatre productions at some of the most prestigious theatre companies in the state.

In 2018, Winnie was hand-picked among hundreds of applicants across the country to be a participant in Australia’s first Diversity Showcase held in Sydney. The inaugural event was a complete success, showcasing Winnie’s unique talents and earning her industry praise. Winnie is known to become fully immersed in her work and has a natural ability to bring truthfulness to her characters. Although having a background in theatre for most of her life, Winnie is predominantly heavy in film and TV.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Winnie to discuss her journey in the entertainment industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I was introduced to acting training at eight and began classes at 11. I fell in love with theatre and always loved delving into various characters for the stage. In 2012 I landed my first screen role in an award-winning short film directed by the very kind Daniel Jacob Rayner!

I am thankful for now being able to explore all kinds of characters for film and TV. 

What do you like most about acting?

I am fortunate enough to serve a unique role in telling stories about the human experience. Acting sets my heart on fire. It’s intriguing, honest, and limitless. I enjoy it very much and believe part of an actor’s craft is knowing how to shape moments, not just be a part of them! Delivering the imagination of what the dynamic could look like is fun!

What are your weak points when it comes to acting, and how do you try to improve them?

Sometimes I overthink and doubt whether I can pull it off! However, what helps is remembering my love for the craft and reminding myself not to doubt and be clouded with negative thoughts. This clears my head and allows me to be present and really feel the moment. 

What are your strong points as an actor?

Being honest at the moment and allowing myself to accept my own, and my characters’ surroundings. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable has helped me understand my weaknesses and strengths and has allowed me to step into a new way of expressing myself. 

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

The directors I have been fortunate to work with have been incredible! I worked with a director that allowed me to express myself, explore what the character is feeling at that moment, and not let audiences know what was coming next. Mostly to have fun on set.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

Hearing no can be challenging, but each time I don’t land the role, I get back up, dust myself off, and try again. I used to suck at that, and I ended up mentally not ok. I learned that I need to hear a billion no’s before I get that gigantic yes. The work toward that big “yes” is rewarding, and I’m learning and growing a lot.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

Not studying the script. It’s essential to understand the flow of the entire script gives your character context and given circumstances. So I ensure my script is never naked and always has markings all over it. I love throwing myself and getting lost in a script. 

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I’m an educator and work with children! I teach them all the fundamentals they are required to have and love helping them develop their little minds and prepare them for their future. My little ones are fast learners and great listeners. They inspire me in so many ways that they have even encouraged me to write a children’s book! When I’m not teaching, I’m working on my scripts! Feature films, shorts, and limited drama series. 

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

I did a show on Foxtel, which you can stream on Binge, called “The End” I had a speaking role and played a cop who was just full of sass. It was fun to step into that role, and the cast and crew were so much fun! I had the joy of sharing a scene with the wonderful Frances O’Connor. Also, a more recent one was working on Netflix’s hit show “Irreverent” I had a speaking role, and it was a lot of fun sharing a scene with Bj Byrne and Colin Donnell. Forever thankful to the incredible Paddy Macrae.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Without a doubt, the cast and crew! My love for those who work behind the scenes is unreal. They are always so down to earth. They work incredibly hard to make the magic happen! Everybody from grips, boom operator, all the ADs, the career team, the art department, set design, prod design, and so much more! They have the best stories, and I love bonding with them in so many ways.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Someone very brave. 

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Continue to find ways to make this world a better place. I believe you should always leave a place better, cleaner, and happier than how you found it. 

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