Cassandra Freeman tapped into her inner soldier for her starring role in Kinyarwanda.
In Kinyarwanda, the latest release from the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), Cassandra plays a freedom fighter named Lt. Rose. It was an extremely important role that needed to be handled with the utmost care and respect.
"My character is based off a woman named Rose Kabuye. It’s based off of several women but mainly her," she explained. To put it in perspective, Rose was one of the most important civil rights figures in Rwanda. "Rose Kabuye there is like Martin Luther King. She has as much notoriety as Beyoncé. I mean kids grow up wanting to be like Rose."
Knowing this, Cassandra did as much research as she could on Rose before filming. But when she arrived in Africa, she got to meet the woman herself! During their time together, Cassandra discovered that she’d channeled Rose a little better than she could have possibly imagined.
"I also based this character off a song by Jay-Z and Rihanna called ‘Run This Town Tonight’. I sort of felt like that was her internal rhythm," Cassandra told S2S before revealing a really funny coincidence. "When I met Rose, we had dinner. Her phone rang and that was her ringtone."
As a result of her time working as a soldier, Rose shared that she really missed being able to dress up.
"She couldn’t wait to get back to being a woman," Cassandra explained, adding that it was also very hard for Rose to leave her husband and kids to go fight against the genocide that was going on around them.
After the war, Rose went on to get involved in politics. She served as the first female mayor of Rwanda’s capital. That’s not what happens to Lt. Rose in the film, however.
"I become a counselor during the re-education," said Cassandra. That required her character to sit down with many people from both sides of the genocide so that everyone could figure out how to forgive each other and live together. "A lot of people think that my character is like the moral center to the movie."
As engrossed as Cassandra was in her own arch for Kinyarwanda, the film actually follows six different story lines that all overlap. It’s something she feels will really keep the viewers engrossed in the movie as they begin to connect the dots between different characters.
Get a quick look at each of those story lines when you watch the trailer for Kinyarwanda below.