Kemiyondo Karen Coutinho, more commonly known as "Kemi," was born in Kampala, Uganda. Her name "Kemiyondo" means a female child who is strangled by her mother's umbilical cord at birth, and that explains just the beginning of her adventures in life. At the tender age of 3 weeks she moved to a small country in the south of Africa, Swaziland. It was this move that in one way or another has opened the opportunity that she now had to study abroad at Lewis & Clark, where she graduated with a BA in Acting. She has just completed her MFA (Acting) at American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) as of May 2015.
Completing her primary education in Swaziland, she proceeded to high school in what she believed to be the very best option-KaMhlaba United World College of Southern Africa located in the capital city of Swaziland. Spending the greatest 7 years of her life at Kamhlaba UWCSA, she felt her future had to live up to those same standards. After spending time in an institution diversity was the norm, she knew that her university education needed to mirror the norm she had grown to love. Filled with gratitude for the lessons she had gained about other cultures and varied backgrounds, she felt a need to pass along both her peers' stories as well as her own. She went to Lewis & Clark hoping to be an ambassador for her school, her country and, most of all, her continent--AFRICA.
At her UWC in Swaziland, Kemiyondo achieved what she says to be her greatest accomplishment--writing and starring in a one-woman play. She told the story about the day in and day out life of a Swazi woman. Kemiyondo felt a need to share her story and she hoped to do so with her fellow students at Lewis & Clark at the annual International Fair. With the success of the play, which she performed both at arts festivals in both Swaziland and South Africa, she has realized that theatre is her passion. She then took theatre courses at Lewis & Clark as well as complimenting it with a dual degree in communications.
In her first address to her fellow international students, she confidently mentioned that her goal for her first year was to teach her peers "the best parts of Africa." She went on to say "I want to teach you how we dance in Africa, how we get down!" She is undoubtedly determined to spread the African spirit around the world through her passion..theatre. Kemi made her Uganda theatre debut in 2012 with Silent Voices, a theatre play written by Adong Judith Lucy. She played Mother the lead role in the play that voices the voices of the voiceless. A self professes theatre advocacy veteran, Kemiyondo has acted in numerous plays that she believes gives voices to the silenced such as The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Race Monologue and For Colored Girls who considered Suicide When the rainbow is Enuf, She has toured her two written one woman plays Kawuna….youre it and Jabulile. She has also acted in other plays such as : In the Continuum, As you like it, Niagara Falls, Hamlet, Seven Guitars. This thus means she has gone through the hands of a number of Theatre Directors. She has a number of awards including the Presidential Award: Young Achievers Award 2012.
Kemi is the Artistic Director of NUVO Festival, an annual arts festival that bring out social issues with all artistic dimensions. She also hosted a Uganda television series dubbed: Discover Uganda that aired on NTV-Uganda. Kemiyondo Coutinho has a focus on theatre for social change. Kemi is an epitome of a professional and passionate theatre actor. Kemiyondo hopes to develop the arts within Uganda and Africa so that art can be utilized for its full potential.
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