Many know Denzel Washington as the face of several blockbuster American movies but do you know that Zimbabwe and Africa has a talented actor and devoted filmmaker who could match our own African Diaspora veteran pound for pound?
He is non-other than Melgin Tafirenyika, a young talent, smart gentleman full of energy, very humble and down to earth.
“Many people say l look like Denzel Washington so they call me Zim/AfricaWashington, and this has sometimes worked wonders during my acting career. l can recall getting big gigs because of that,” he explains with vivid confidence that could put the American into a huge challenge.
“So far I’ve written and produced 9 films including titles such as I Will Marry Myself, Sour Milk, Deep Thought, Love is Not Enough, My First Boyfriend, Flowers of Dry Thorns, 30 February and Shortlist. Of these titles the most successful has been I Will Marry Myself which has aired on Mzansi Magic, Zambezi Magic, Vox Africa, Sky TV and also selected for the International Images
Film Festival (IIFF). The festival is held in Zimbabwe annually and was founded by internationally acclaimed author, filmmaking stalwart, renowned mentor and role model Tsitsi Dangarembga.
The messages in Melgin’s films are mainly about love and marriage because he believes a lot of people have bad perceptions about marriage. “Marriage should be a place of hope, peace and tranquility, but in today's world it’s the complete
opposite,” he says.
He singles out I Will Marry Myself as his most successful film as it “opened more doors” as a film writer and more so because it played on many different television station networks – local and international.
He notes that his most memorable commercial is for South African National Blood Service because in that shoot he embraces the characters of Denzel Washington. So far he has featured in more than 30 commercials across Africa including MTN Mobile, Dtsv, Visa Card and several others too many to mention.
Perhaps his most important television appearance was being chosen recently to feature in South Africa’s Generations – The Legacy,playing the role of a successful businessman.
About the role in probably Africa’s most successful soap opera, he says, “It was fun, but at the same time it was work so much experience is needed and strictly business”.
“It was an experience to feature in a South African film production because each production is different from the previous one so you basically learn new tricks every time you on set and l think that gives me more experience as a filmmaker
when l’m doing my own productions,” he recalls of his recent role.
The hunk-like young gentleman says that in South Africa people respect the arts and artists don't just give their best, but they give their all. The rates are better and the industry is solid and through this experience he is hoping to raise our Zim film
industry to match that of Hollywood.
Melgin began his career as a model in 2006 when he was young and in 2009 he went to school to study Drama. He quickly points out that the journey is not easy and it will never be easy. “We still facing challenges (in Africa) regarding funding
to shoot movies that will compete at the international level of Hollywood”.Talking of Hollywood he foresees a dream move in the near future to the land of global entertainment, America.About his biggest career highlights he says it is the movies he has written and sold to television networks and from which proceeds have been invested in his own production company Light Image Productions.
He mentions funding as the main challenge, saying this means that getting the right resources is a major hindrance to shoot a movie that will excite the whole world.
What would he do if he had access to a US$10 million dollar budget? “I would built a $5 million film studio and shoot a movie that l’ve written 6 years ago Jazzyman telling Mbare (Harare) stories that used to happen when l was young.”
He reveals that his next film is a somewhat controversial one and titled I Married My Mother and the title is still work in progress.
Melgin lives in Johannesburg and is a proud son of Mbare Township, where he was born and bred. There he attended Gwinyai Primary School and left Zimbabwe in 2008.
He does visit home more often because he is setting up a production company so that he shares his experience with up-coming artists and build a better film industry for Zimbabwe.
Among his several dreams, one is to revive the Zimbabwean entertainment industry shooting shows like Gringo and those that featured the great and inimitable Paraffin and many more. On the country’s actors he says “We’re getting there, our actors are getting big gigs in Hollywood films (like Tongai Chirisa and Danai Gurira) so every year we’re improving.”
The next 5-10 years he would like to be one of the biggest directors ever to come from Africa: #million dollars.
Asked which profession he values most between film and modeling, “he says “l would value film making because sometimes in modeling you can get away doing certain things than in film. In filmmaking you can't cheat talent and experience.”
Melgin loves Denzel Washington more so as he has enjoyed Fences the American actor’s new film that came out in the beginning of the year.His advice: The arts and entertainment industry is not easy and it will never be easy, but if l can make it as a filmmaker you can also make it. The best way of making a film is to take your cast, crew and camera and shoot it.”