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Rising Star: Kudakwashe Rutendo Talks Her new Film "Backspot"

She's One to Watch

In the glittering world of Hollywood, where dreams are made and stars are born, Kudakwashe Rutendo shines brightly as a rising talent to watch. Recently cast as Amanda in the highly anticipated film "Backspot," opposite Devery Jacobs and Evan Rachel Wood, Kudakwashe's journey into the limelight has been nothing short of spectacular. Named one of the prestigious 2023 TIFF Rising Stars and a finalist for the 2024 CBC Canada Reads, her trajectory is set to leave an indelible mark on the international stage.



Reflecting on her experience filming "Backspot," Kudakwashe effuses enthusiasm. "I honestly had a really good experience working with the Backspot team," she shares. "A lot of the team have been navigating the film industry for a few years, and they all were so willing to take a mentorship role." Working alongside Devery Jacobs, whom she admires deeply, Kudakwashe found their chemistry instrumental in bringing her character, Amanda, to life. "Devery really gives you a lot as a scene partner, and does it while being so kind and down to earth. It’s definitely the reason the chemistry between Amanda and Riley was so good," she explains. Moreover, the involvement of local cheerleading team Cheer Fuzion added a unique dynamic to the set, showcasing their awe-inspiring athleticism.

Amanda's character resonated deeply with Kudakwashe, particularly her drive and assertiveness. "We share a lot of traits intrinsically," Kudakwashe notes, "but what I really admire about her is how she’s able to articulate her limits." Drawing from her own cheerleading background, Kudakwashe and Devery Jacobs immersed themselves in physical training to authentically portray their roles as talented cheerleaders. "Leading up to shooting, Devery and I started going to open gyms to get ready to play these wildly talented cheerleaders," she shares.

Themes and Audience Connection "Backspot" delves into themes of identity, ambition, and acceptance, with Amanda embodying a balance of ambition and self-awareness. "She’s ambitious enough to have wanted to join the Thunderhawks, this huge all-star team," Kudakwashe explains, "yet when things start getting too intense, she knows herself enough to prioritize her health."

Memorable Moments and Milestones Sharing anecdotes from the set, Kudakwashe recalls a humorous mishap during auditions with Devery Jacobs that almost derailed her confidence. "We both had the same idea to go in for a hug and ended up colliding. Hard," she laughs. Despite initial nerves, the experience of working with industry luminaries like Evan Rachel Wood and being part of Elliot Page's production was a dream come true for Kudakwashe. "It’s really a pinch me moment," she reflects.

"Backspot" had its world premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. What was your reaction to seeing the finished film for the first time, especially on such a renowned platform? 

Relief. Leading up to it I had so much anxiety, but then seeing it on screen, it was total relief. Like, we made a good movie and now it’s out in the world. But my in-audience reaction was just delight, the sound design of the movie is fantastic and the soundtrack phenomenal. The director, D.W. Waterson, is a DJ as well and you can really tell. I actually think the sound design and overall soundscape of Backspot is so distinct. And in a theatre with a sound system you really watch the movie on two fronts. Visually, of course, but then there’s like an auditory story unfolding as well. 

Being recognized as a TIFF Rising Star in 2023 was a career highlight for Kudakwashe. "As an actor, you’re constantly working, and it’s hard to see if that work is resonating with audiences and your peers," she admits. "Being a Rising Star was kind of like a nudge of, yes, the work is landing."

What message do you hope audiences take away from "Backspot" after watching the film? 

I really hope people see themselves! I think Backspot does a fantastic job of not adding to a canon of movies where the conflict is queerness. The conflict here is really how far you’re willing to go to be great, and though almost all the characters audiences meet are queer, again, you never see conflict in that.

With a passion for writing that parallels her acting career, Kudakwashe is currently immersed in a writing project close to her heart. "It's been in the works for a couple of years," she shares, "so it’s so humbling to be where I am now with it." In a world where talent meets determination, Kudakwashe Rutendo stands poised at the intersection of artistry and ambition. As her star continues to rise, "Backspot" marks not just a film debut but a testament to her dedication and passion for storytelling, promising audiences an unforgettable journey on screen and beyond.

Where can we follow you?

You can find me on all platforms @kudakwashe_rs !


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