The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Yvonne Breaks the Chain

When Yvonne Asiimwe aka Yvonne Tattu launched her entertainment career in 2008 playing a naive church girl in a local film, her family was the happiest.

"My mum was extremely excited. She said I should only act holy parts so as not to shame the family," recalls the actress/singer, adding her family is conservatively religious.

The role from Maryland Production's Innocent Tears, instantly won her acclaim within the local film fraternity. Soon, directors were approaching her for work. She, nonetheless, turned down most offers since her mother considered them 'unholy'.

"I knew mum would be mad with me," says the actress famous for her role in the 2009 hit, Jessica the Queen, as a caring sister to a troubled artiste.

Music

Yvonne says acting gave her the confidence to try out a career in music, where she had excelled while still in school. She had also been writing songs since 2007.

"Being in front of cameras shaped my confidence and self-esteem. I knew the time had come to explore my singing talent," she says, recalling she used the little earnings from film to pay studio fees for her 2009 debut song, Kyannuma. It flopped.

Rebellious

Despite the relative success in movies, Yvonne recalls she got bored with her laid-back roles, which her domineering mother had compelled her to play.

"I sat my family down and told them I was tired of holding back and wanted to unleash my inner self who is a bit wild and kinky," says the youthful entertainer who won't reveal her age.

At first, her mother, who was at the time paying her tuition fees at Uganda Christian University (UCU), threatened to banish her.

But after a series of prodding, the single mother caved in, albeit setting fresh conditions.

"I was supposed to be at home by 7pm and would have to complete my course," says the bachelor of Social Works and Social Administration (SWASA) graduate.

Yvonne then had to undergo a series of image transformations to satisfy market trends.

"I got tattoos, painted my hair, wore tight jeans and all the other crazy things I had long wanted to do," says the artiste who hopes to get more tattoos, though not on her breasts or backside. She currently has three tattoos - a butterfly, a tiny heart and a treble clef.

The rebrand has since seen Yvonne take on more serious roles in movies such as Inseparable, Iron Love and Zanda, among others. She has so far appeared in seven movies and says more roles are lined up this year. However, her real breakthrough only came last year when she released the smash hit, Ku Lujegere. And the dimpled beauty admits the dancehall tune - complete with a raunchy video where she appears gyrating her gorgeous bikini body - has done her wonders.

"I walk on street and hear people singing the song. Some of my fans now call me Ku Lujegere," she says of the groovy tune that went viral on the internet and continues to burn up dance floors across the country.

Limitless

But the busy movie-set schedules kept Yvonne out of music circles for the bigger part of last year, save for performing Ku Lujegere, a Luganda term to mean 'chained'.

But the artiste, whom I found reading Chip Ingram's bestseller God As He Longs For You To See Him, has vowed to bounce back this year. She is currently working on her debut eight-track all-video album, Limitless.

"It projects the real me - my challenges, heartbreaks, family, faith and other aspects," she says of the half-complete album which comprises English, Luganda and Kiswahili songs. I listened to Letting Go, Charger and Throw Me Up.

Basing on their quality production and punchy lyrics, there's little doubt the album will be a success upon release. She hopes her February country tour gathers the hype for the March launch.

Challenges

The paltry pay aside, Yvonne says Ugandans still have negative perceptions about female entertainers. "Some people think we are just dense sluts," says Yvonne, who wants to put her education to use by establishing an orphanage. Yvonne, who spends most of her free time reading books, watching TV and partying in her hometown Entebbe, adores Rihanna and Beyonce.

She also hopes to marry her boyfriend with whom she intends to have ten children to make up for the loneliness she felt while growing up, being an only child.

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