"Beasts of No Nation" star Abraham Attah is apparently moving to the USA (from Ghana), where, according to Nigeria’s EbonyLife TV network, he’ll attend school thanks to a scholarship from Netflix – the company released "Beasts of No Nation" as you’ll recall, hence the connection.
Attah received much deserved acclaim for his performance in the film, including the Best Actor trophy at the 2016 Spirit Awards just a couple of weeks ago.
I assume his move to the USA will also mean more potential acting work for the young thespian. As of today, he isn’t attached to any other film or TV series; last year, he filmed a short film titled "Out of the Village," which was directed by Jonathan Stein, and counts "X-Men" director Bryan Singer as one of its producers. The 16-minute film that follows a brother and his sister during the Ebola outbreak (set in an "unnamed West African village" of course), is currently touring the international film festival circuit.
The film, which was shot in Ghana raised over $20,000 via a Kickstarter campaign last year. I’m sure Attah’s newfound fame will help draw attention to it wherever it screens.
Attah’s transition post-"Beasts" certainly reads like a rosier portrait than that experienced by Rachel Mwanza, star of a previous critically-acclaimed "African child soldier" feature film, "War Witch" ("Rebelle"), which was released in 2013, and covered extensively on this blog.
You might recall my piece on "War Witch" director Kim Nguyen’s struggles in getting financing and distribution for his dream-like, and Academy Award nominated (for Best Foreign Language Film) Congolese drama, because the film stars an *unknown* black lead in young Rachel Mwanza, who gives a wonderfully naturalistic performance (she was a non-professional actor prior to being cast in the film, and was practically living in the streets before she got the part) as 12 year old Komona.
And further, with the film enjoying success internationally, some wondered whether Mwanza, who returned to the DRC (after all the pomp and circumstance around the film, around the world) was enjoying any of the rewards that her work in the film had attracted.
In response to that, director Nguyen spoke publicly at the time, stating that he helped set up a four-year program for the then 16-year-old, which included getting her room and board, education and food in her hometown of Kinshasa, adding that when she turned 18 years old, she’d get a small chunk of money that’s been put away for her, so that she could possibly invest in some land, or start a business. Nguyen said that the challenges for Mwanza in the DRC were great, and it was difficult for him to really manage from a distance (he lives in Canada); however, he said that a friend in Kinshasa was helping to arrange for Mwanza’s care there, despite the complications of the situation.
Mwanza became homeless after her parents left for Angola and abandoned her when she was even younger, and that’s how she ended up living in the streets of Kinshasa, before she was cast in "War Witch."
No word on where and how Mwanza is living currently, although I’ve sent out inquiries hoping for replies.
According to her IMDB page, she hasn’t appeared in any other films since "War Witch." Around the same time she filmed that film, she appeared in a Belgian docu-drama titled "Kinshasa Kids" which followed a group of children that live on Kinshasa’s streets.
Below, watch the EbonyLife TV news report on Attah’s move to the USA (skip to the 1:35 mark).