Interview: Charmaine Bingwa, award-winning actress & Little Sista star
Charmaine Bingwa literally can do it all! She can act, write, sing, produce, and much more. She has been seen on stage as Ms. Muller in Doubt: A Parable, which earned her a Sydney Theatre Award and Broadway World nominations for Best Supporting Actress. She was also seen in the film Nekromancer alongside Monica Belluci. When she is not acting, Bingwa has performed alongside popular artists including Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony, and Rachel Platten on their Australian tours.
Bingwa currently stars in the webseries Little Sista which she also wrote, produced, and directed. The series won Best Screenplay at the LGBT Toronto Film Festival and earned selections in the Web Series Festival Global, Hollywood, Out Fest LA, Sicily Web Fest, Roma Cinema DOC, and Melbourne Web Fest. It is available now for viewing on Revry Network.
Legion of Leia: First off, I really loved the trailer for Little Sista. I thought it was hilarious, but also grounded. What initially drew you to creating these series?
Charmaine Bingwa: People describe me as hilarious and grounded, so I’m glad that came across in the show! I knew I wanted to create something. And I wanted it to be heartfelt, funny, yet deep. I drew on my experiences from being a mentor in program like Big Brother, Big Sisters – so I took the premise and heightened that.
Legion of Leia: What is the main message or messages that you want to get across to your audience when they view Little Sista?
Charmaine Bingwa: I guess my main message is that while you can’t always control your circumstances and where you are in life, you can control where you are going. All can find love in non-traditional family structures and the journey together can be a lot of fun!
And then obviously, inclusion. The characters in this show are a kaleidoscope of backgrounds, worldviews, and walks of life.
Legion of Leia: Let’s be honest. There are still very few roles out there in the LGBTQ+ realm. Even more so when you take into account roles for LGBTQ+ for POC. How does it feel creating a piece that can help bring these narratives to the general public?
Charmaine Bingwa: I’m so glad you brought this up. Obviously I’m super-passionate about this. There are so few LGBTQ+ roles and sometimes they aren’t given the depth or screen-time as most characters we are used to seeing on screen. I’m really proud that our show features a person of color who just happens to be gay and that the story is rich, complex and layered. LGBTQ+, people of color and other marginalized segments of society need to know they are just as worthy of being the lead as anyone else.
Legion of Leia: What work do you predict we still do need to tackle in order to make these roles more available and plentiful to the public? It seems creating them ourselves may be the only way to really bring these stories to life.
Charmaine Bingwa: For me it all starts with writing. We need people to tell stories that expand our horizons, and usually the people that tell it best are the people who have lived it. If more intersectional stories appear, there is no choice but to cast them that way and it creates a knock on effect and change happens. I’d love a future where people of color and the LBGTQ+ are cast as leads because they are best for the role, not just because it’s a biopic.
Legion of Leia: How would you describe the writing, directing, and producing process to an actor who wanted to take on those roles? Based off of my observations, that seems to be the route that more are taking to get their voices out there.
Charmaine Bingwa: Absolutely, I feel this is becoming the norm these days. Makes sense too… when you write something for yourself, you have the best chance of showcasing your unique talent. Beyond this, the people hiring you automatically know you are hardworking, film-savvy and capable of delivering.
Legion of Leia: What would be your dream project to work on?
Charmaine Bingwa: I’m really obsessed with all of director Steve McQueen’s films at the moment, so it would be anything with him.
Legion of Leia: What advice would you give to anyone interested in acting or just performing in general?
Charmaine Bingwa: Talent is love. So if you absolutely love what you do, there is no way you cannot shine.
Legion of Leia: What other projects can we expect to see you in?
Charmaine Bingwa: I’m working on a brilliant LGBTI Sci-Fi film called Cairos written by Zach Paul Brown, that has already won Best Screenplay awards (thought you’d like the Sci Fi Leia!). I’m excited to be playing the role of Lee and to be part of something I think will be spectacular. There is most likely going to be a Season 2 of Little Sista, and there are a few other writing projects I’m finishing up too.
If you want to receive updates on Charmaine Bingwa’s work or just want to get to know her, follow her Twitter handle here and follow her on Instagram here. Her series Little Sista is streaming now on Revry and can be watched here.