By Kenneth Matimaire
Many remember her as Vimbai Jari – the innocent, down-to-earth young woman who starred in the ground-breaking soap opera, Studio-263.
But to the few who managed to get close to her identify her as a bubbly, conservative, shy soul who enjoys the attention and is a firm believer with Christian values tattooed in her DNA.
These personal traits manifest in none other than Bab – short for Barbara Vhengedza – who replaced Anne Nhira to star as the lead character, Vimbai in the trailblazer soapie.
Bab took the The Zimbabwean on her rollercoaster ride down memory lane.
The long rehearsals and shooting hours were first to come to mind for the Mutare born and bred actress. “I remember the working hours at Studio-263 were really, really long – I totally lost my social life,” she said.
However, she hastened to point out that her stint at Studio-263 paid off as it became the much needed launch-pad towards her blooming acting career.
The well-spoken actress initially made her debut film appearance in Bitter Pill alongside renowned actress Tatenda Mavetera and Joe Njagu of Lobola fame.
The film, produced by veteran film producer Ben Mahaka, was screened on Africa Magic – a continental movie channel that promotes African productions. Though Bitter Pill enjoyed regional success, it was Studio-263 that opened doors for Vhengedza.
“My first time to be on television was on Mai Chisamba Show, the second was on my debut movie role on Bitter Pill. This is where I met Tatenda Mavetera (who played Tendai, Vimbai’s sister on Studio-263) and she told me about auditions on Studio-263, which is how I ended up getting the lead role (Vimbai),” she recalled.
“People got to know me because of Studio-263 and I managed to get connected in the film industry and beyond. There were a lot of opportunities thereafter. It did open a few doors,” she added.
Vhengedza got to dine with the big names in the country’s film industry where she landed various movie roles. She went on to star as Christine in the original Lobola – a short film that was released before the follow up movie, which featured 2010 Big Brother Africa finalist, Munyaradzi Chidzonga.
Bab further featured in Contagious by Nyaradzo Muchena before she leapfrogged into theatre productions. She made her date with Daves Guzha’s Rooftop Promotions where she featured in Wedding Day alongside prominent names such as Pretty Xaba. During this period, Vhengedza learnt the trade of the industry, which she eventually mastered before she decided to take a backseat owing to what she termed as poor remuneration in the film industry.
“I decided to leave the screen as an actress because the remuneration wasn’t meeting my daily demands. I started doing documentaries, getting involved in some small projects, grooming and training artists behind the scenes. With this I could work another job and at the same time manage to sustain myself financially,” she said.
The former accounts executive was the casting director for a film that is being shot in the eastern border city by Willie Matope. She is also working on her first movie production titled Chiedza. The Zimbabwean