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Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine appears on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Katzif
Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine appears on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

Born to Ugandan immigrants and raised in an academically-minded household, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine stunned his parents when he told them he wanted to pursue acting. "I really took years off their lives when they heard that," he told host Ophira Eisenberg. "It was a shock to the system."

Mwine has appeared on stages across the world and on beloved television shows like The Knick and Treme. However, he is perhaps best known for starring as Ronnie on Showtime's The Chi. "He's somebody who thinks with his heart," Mwine said of his character. "His heart's on his sleeve, and then realizes afterwards that his heart's gotten him in the wrong places. [...] He means well but doesn't always do well."

At first, stepping into the shoes of a South Side Chicago resident and military veteran was incredibly daunting. "The world that Ronnie lives in or orbits around was totally foreign to me," Mwine explained to Eisenberg, "That meant doing tons of research and still feeling foreign."

Mwine is used to researching his characters in depth, conducting interviews and gathering stories to inform his work. Biro, a one-man show inspired by the story of a relative, took years of careful development. "He was HIV positive, living in Uganda when there was no access to treatment or care, back in the 80s. And he smuggled his way illegally into the United States. He was basically a medical refugee," Mwine recounted. "So I went with a tape recorder and interviewed him and from those interviews, created the solo piece. [...] Four years later, I was doing it all over the world, all over a dozen countries."

In addition to acting and writing, Mwine also works behind the camera as a filmmaker and photographer. "You have to create constantly," he explains, whether that means documenting the life of his fourteen-month-old daughter, or recreating photographs of his personal heroes for his Instagram feed. For his Ask Me Another challenge, we took inspiration from Mwine's inspiration, and quizzed him on some of his personal muses.


On being drawn to acting, writing, directing, and photography
It's called the curse of being an artist.

On professions his parents might have preferred to acting
My grandfather was archbishop of Uganda, so maybe if I could have been a priest... I've played a priest since then!

On filming Treme on location in New Orleans
The food is just incredible, and the music, and everyone's dripping fish or alcohol when they're walking down the streets. And here I was, the vegetarian who doesn't drink, just observing, taking pictures [...] they thought I was an alien.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

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