Angelique Munyange was born in the DRC- Democratic Republic of Congo. When she was 11, the family relocated to Cape Town. French is Munyange’s primary mother tongue and when she arrived in Cape Town, she taught herself English, by watching the Disney Channel on TV. Her love for drama and musical theatre was ignited during her schooling at Parklands College in Cape Town – via public speaking – which sparked it all. She decided to spread her wings and explore acting opportunities in the USA and last year , she received her Bachelor in Fine Arts at the prestigious New York Film Academy. In 2023, the 24-year old actress is thrilled to be making her mark in Los Angeles, where she is based and is enjoying the diversity of her work- which includes writing, directing, producing, voice-over work and working as a digital imaging technician. She was recently featured in a commercial for Vagisil [feminine care brand]. The high-profile advert aired on multiple networks including Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Munyange wrote and produced Words Never Said , a short film, directed by Virginia Blatter, which is embarking on its festival run, this year. Munyange performed in the film with Hilary Ijieh – who was born in South Africa to Nigerian parents and who also moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career in acting. Munyange and Ijieh are working together on developing a web-series.
TheCapeRobyn: How did the move to the USA come about? Was it to study at the renowned New York Film Academy [NYFA]? What did you major in at the academy? Acting?
Angelique Munyange: Definitely – I moved to Los Angeles to study. That was my main focus. I knew I wanted to attend the NYFA, approximately two years before I enrolled. I love acting and I knew that that was what I wanted to focus on in my degree. I knew it was unconventional but I do enjoy a challenge. I majored in acting but the amazing thing at NYFA is that they want you to be versed in everything. We had courses that focused on teaching us everything – in front – and behind the camera. We also learned how to edit and understand what it takes to put our projects together. Our electives included courses on entertainment law. This is something that I personally took and learned a lot from – the legal aspects of the entertainment industry.
TheCapeRobyn: What has it been like for you -work and live in the USA – as a Congolese [DRC]-born, South African raised creative? Have you experienced challenges/discrimination as a Black actor – from another continent or do you find that your origin story has provided you with opportunities?
Angelique Munyange: I think there are always challenges moving to a new city. There are more challenges to moving to a whole different continent. I suppose that I have been lucky with the place I chose and the people I chose to surround myself with. I have always been proud of where I come from because it really adds to my identity, which I am also proud of. When I think back to my experiences here, I have not so much experienced discrimination per se, but more so, I have experienced ignorance and a lack of knowledge from people here.
There is such rich culture both in Congo and South Africa- so many languages spoken etc. The issue that I have faced the most -is letting people know that the idea of the stereotype that they have of “Africa” is very much incorrect. Unlike the United States, Africa is a huge continent which has extremely different people, cultures, languages, food, currencies and identities. I have met a lot of people who tell me that they know someone from Ghana or Kenya. I have to say: ‘That’s nice but that doesn’t really relate to me as I have never been to those countries’.
But I will say, due to my identity, I have had a lot of wonderful opportunities for jobs because I speak French; because I am Congolese and because I have connected with South Africans.
TheCapeRobyn: Which language do you think/dream in? French is the official language in the DRC but there are four national languages: Kituba (Kikongo), Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba. Is French your first language?
Angelique Munyange: I dream in English, I cannot remember when my brain switched over but at some point I stopped thinking in French and moved to English and my dreams did the same thing. Ironically enough, I have been told that I speak in my sleep and I have spoken in Swahili, which I also speak. I view French as my first language and I speak Swahili with my family and I try to learn Lingala but it is taking some time. Language is definitely core to what I do because you can communicate very different things within the bounds of different languages. Different languages carry different attitudes and personalities. I am not even sure if that makes sense but when I switch the language that I am speaking, it is like it is a completely different part of me.
I truly love languages. I pride myself with being fluent in the ones I am fluent in already and I am trying to learn new languages. I think my favourite one to learn right now- American Sign Language. It is really teaching me a lot of understanding in vocal speech, body language and communication in general.
TheCapeRobyn: Can you tell us about your new media project and working, with fellow African actress Hilary Ijieh? She was born to Nigerian parents and raised in South Africa and like you, she moved to Los Angeles, to further her acting career.
Angelique Munyange: We are working on a pilot for a mini-series, for streaming. It is about two new roommates who realise they like the apartment more than each other and they will do whatever it takes to get the other to move out, especially because their personalities mix as well -as oil and water. The episode is currently in post-production and we are excited with what it already looks like.
TheCapeRobyn: What else are you working on right now?
Angelique Munyange: I am currently slowing down in the acting front as I want to work more on my series and finish other episodes. Due to the writers’ strike here, which I completely support, things are slowing down in Los Angeles so I am preparing for when things come back up. I am also always working on my craft- joining acting classes whenever I can.
✳This interview has been marginally edited for length and clarity. Images supplied.