Born in 1997 and abandoned by her parents as a child, Mwanza spent several years living as a street child in Kinshasa before being cast in Rebelle. She was cast in the film after director Kim Nguyen and producers Pierre Even and Marie-Claude Poulin saw her in a documentary film on the street kids of Kinshasa. Due to her lack of education, she did not know how to read or write when she was first cast in the film; the filmmakers have since made arrangements to pay for her education and housing until she turns 18. In February 2013 she was granted a visa to allow her to attend the Academy Awards.
Her performance in Rebelle garnered her awards for Best Actress from the Berlin Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Vancouver Film Critics Circle in 2012, as well as the award for Best Actress at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards.
- "Rachel Mwanza, the incredible destiny of a street child". Jambo News, February 29, 2012.
- "Oscars 2013: Rebelle’s African teen star trying to get visa to attend awards". Toronto Star, January 30, 2013.
- "Oscars 2013: Congolese War Witch hopeful gets US visa". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
- "Montreal director Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle wins two awards at Tribeca Film Festival in New York". The Gazett, April 27, 2012.
- "Canadian Screen Awards raises the star wattage". Toronto Star, March 3, 2013.
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