Actors are not only entertainers but are also role models for a great many members of the public, so their professional and private lives should be exemplary, according to Zimbabwean actor Arnold Gara.
Well-known as an actor in such productions as the TV series Wenera, as well as a singer, Gara has set various career goals for himself and hopes to build on his success to date with even greater success and with helping other budding performers get their places in the spotlight.
He sees himself as a down-to-earth, determined musician and actor who recognised his talent for singing at the age of 12 and who has worked hard since then to get up the ladder of success. He recorded his first album in 2007, preceding this with an audition for an acting role in 2006, for the film Confessions.
“The response of the director and team to that audition surprised me pleasantly, and I got the role. It seemed I had the makings of an actor, something I had not fully recognised myself until then,” he said.
“I have now done more acting than singing, but in future I want to maintain a good balance between the two.”
Among his roles have been performances in productions like The Forgotten Son, Fools’ Day, The Maid, Ndakaitei, City of Dreams, Zambezi, Rujeko and Confessions. Feedback on these have been positive and he hopes his career has seen him grow as an actor and performer.
Among his favoured career highlights have been seeing his songs stay on radio top 10 charts for weeks at a time and being cast in the top television series Wenera.
“I achieved popularity as Boss T1, which was both humbling and exciting,” he said.
“Wenera has been the most challenging experience for me. In the first season I was a spoiled youngster who was into drugs, but as the character grew up he let go of his nasty ways and started running the family business as the Wenera Diamond boss.
“Wenera really developed my acting skills,” he said of the role.
Gara said the actors in Wenera invested much time and effort in rehearsals before the first shoot, possibly as much as a year or more, and although this created boredom for some, he now feels this brought about the best in each of them.
Watching local, continental and international film and television productions on DStv is a valued exercise for the actor-singer, who makes a point of watching news channels to keep abreast of current affairs around the world, while music channels like Channel O , Trace Africa and Trace Urban give him full enjoyment and inspiration.
“I also watch South African productions The River, Gomora, Isibaya and The Queen and am greatly inspired by other African actors with successful and rewarding acting careers,” he said.
Gara said talented and driven young Zimbabweans could find success in the world of acting through the simple rule of ‘practice makes perfect.’
“This may be a cliché, but it’s a principle that stands the test of time,” he said.
“Like anything else, being successful in acting means the young aspirants need to put a huge amount of effort and work to continuously improve and polish their skills. Opportunities often present themselves, but are we ready when they do?”
Gara has his own role models, including the US actor Denzel Washington, valued for his humility, determination and sustained acting career. Usher is someone I grew up knowing and I have liked his style of presentation, dance and music.
“I also look up to Ginuwine, who is not as much in the limelight as these other, but whose music really inspires me.”
Gara is the second of three siblings, his older sister, Cecilia, being married and working in the medical field, while his younger brother, Daryl, is a hip hop singer.
“We were raised by our mother, who did everything for us and we are a closely-knit and happy family. That’s important for me and, indeed, for everyone. It’s given me a firm foundation in this career path I have chosen,” he said.