Wendy Gumede is a 24-year-old filmmaker from Kwa Zulu Natal. She earned a degree in Film and Television Studies at the University of Cape Town and an honors in Screenwriting. As a woman in media, Gumede is no stranger to sexism.
“As a woman, it’s easy for you to be on the other side of the camera. You’re expected to be pretty, thin, look a certain way, speak a certain way. For an aspiring director and producer, there’s this misconception that only men are in business.”
In fact, on a number of occasions, individuals have approached her wondering if she is the presenter rather than the director. What is even more difficult is working with men who are unwilling to see a woman in such a position of authority. For Gumede, the key to overcoming such challenges is perseverance.
“I believe I’m made for this, and some people beg to differ because I’m not a man,” Gumede said, “It’s something that really does not phase me now. I take ownership when I’m on set.”
Not only is Gumede shattering stereotypes on the set, but she is also working on a huge project for the continent of Africa. Founder and creative director for an upcoming website, HowAfricansLive.Com, she aspires to remove the notions that mainstream media has produced about African people.
“There is too much shared content,” she said, “focused on how Africans die and not how Africans live. So I created a site to explore our stories and share our stories – our authentic stories – about how Africans do life on the continent.”
The website will include documentaries, articles, restaurant and book reviews, as well as interviews with everyday people.
“I think it is something that the country and the continent need right now: just good, solid representation of the fact that Africans actually thrive, instead of the whole idea that Africans are constantly suffering,” Gumede said.
Gumede plans to utilize the platform as a medium to shape perceptions about Africa, and simultaneously, about womanhood. By sharing the stories of women enhancing the narrative of a self-sufficient Africa, she intends to focus on the representation and misrepresentation of women on the continent.
“As a female founder, I’m in a position that is really important in how I represent not only women, but also black women, on the continent,” Gumede said, “My site is committed to flipping the narrative of women being frail, women being weak, and women being in need of your assistance as men.”
Gumede is eager to capture diverse stories of women from all walks of life and with distinct personal missions in mind.
“Womanhood is being an individual and understanding that you don’t have to fall into ‘what women do’ boxes. You don’t fall into ‘this is how a woman should feel’ boxes. And I think you’re a person before you are a woman. To me, being a woman means being true to myself.”
For Gumede, womanhood is taking personal ownership of who you are. With a future in filmmaking and as the creator of HowAfricansLive.Com, Gumede leads a life as the truest version of herself.