Conversations on Identity with “The Chi” Actor

On Wednesday, Parker welcomed stage and film actor, playwright, photographer and documentarian Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine to speak with students and discuss identity. A first-generation Ugandan American, Mwine earned his master’s degree in fine arts from New York University’s Graduate Acting Program and studied at the University of Virginia, the Moscow Art Theatre and the Royal National Theatre in London.

Mwine began his day at Parker by meeting with seniors in English Department Co-Chair Teresa Collins’ Identity Development and Contemporary Culture course. This conversation focused on identity development through the lens of Erik Erikson’s life course development framework, the Eight Stages of Development. Mwine was gracious enough to submit himself to the “Proust Questionnaire,” which all the seniors took as a first assignment, and gave the students an interesting and insightful look into who he really is―his likes, dislikes, mottoes and heroes, among many other topics. In reflecting on Mwine’s visit to her classroom, Collins said, “I enjoyed hearing him talk about his happiness from ‘my daughter’s giggling,’ his eternal joy and interest in observing humanity through the lens of his camera and a story of photographing and meeting―briefly―Nelson Mandela soon after he was freed from captivity.”

Next, Mwine sat down for “A Morning Ex Conversation” in the Heller Auditorium with Head of Upper School Justin Brandon. During this special gtahering, 3rd through 12th graders listened as Brandon discussed many things with Mwine—among them, Mwine’s personal history, his upbringing and how the relationship between America and Uganda has led him to being a “child of two worlds,” being an actor and having to assume the identity of his characters, being the only African student in his school and how he didn’t truly come into his own as an actor until graduate school. Mwine made a particularly lasting impression when Brandon asked him, “What is your motto?” Mwine responded with an anecdote about auditioning for the television show The Chi and having no expectations of success; it was only after receiving the part that he realized, “Sometimes you have to let go of expectations to experience the divine.”

By listening to Mwine speak about himself and his identity and having the chance to interact him, students were able to connect the trials and tribulations of an outside professional with the important work and themes of identity development taking place inside our model home. 

Click here for photos from the Morning Ex. 
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.