Esteri Tebandeke

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Esteri Tebandeke
Esteri Tebandeke headshot.jpg
Tebandeke before Maria Kizito performance in New Orleans, October 2015
Esther Brenda Apolot

(1984-05-16) 16 May 1984 (age 34)
ResidenceKampala, Uganda
OccupationActress, Visual artist
Years active2008-present

Esteri Tebandeke (born 16 May 1984) is a Ugandan film and theatre actress, dancer and visual artist. She is a graduate of the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art at Makerere University.

She has played roles in the films Sins of the Parents (2008), Master on Duty (2009), Queen of Katwe (2016) and Her Broken Shadow (2016) which will be her first foray into science fiction.

Early life and education[edit]

Esteri was born in Kampala, Uganda, and is of Teso descent. She is the sixth of eight children and her family has been living in Uganda. Esteri attended St. Joseph's Girl's Secondary School in Uganda and acted in school plays and dance performances.



Esteri starting working as a contemporary dancer in 2008 and has performed with various dance companies in Uganda namely Keiga Dance Company, Stepping Stones dance company, Mutumizi dance Company, Guerrilla Dance Company among others.

She has staged performances at various arts platforms namely; Dance Week Uganda, Dance Transmissions Festival (both annual contemporary dance showcases), Bayimba International Festival of the Arts and Umoja International Festival– initially as a student and a teacher for 3 years– to mention a few. Her work is not only restricted to Uganda but she has also been involved in projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Madagascar, South Africa, Tanzania, the United States of America, and Ethiopia. She has performed at La Mama in New York in 2012, Artwater Village Theatre in 2013 and New Orleans Fringe in 2014.


She has been an actress since 2008 performing in a variety of theatre and film productions in Uganda. Her debut theatre production, Lion and The Jewel where she portrayed Sidi was directed by Kaya Kagimu Mukasa.[1] Other theatre projects have included Maria Kizito– lead actress as a psychopathic nun– a play by Brown University professor, Erik Ehn about the trial of nuns who facilitated the massacre of Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide. She was the lead actress in Cooking Oil, a play by award-winning playwright Deborah Asiimwe, which was performed in Uganda and the United States of America. Other theatre projects have included a mentally disturbed psychiatrist in the Ugandan production of The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian War as well as a frustrated wife in The Marriage Chronicles.[2] In late 2015, Esteri travelled to the Northern part of Uganda with a group of artists to collect stories and hopefully turn these into stage plays that will be presented to audiences around the world. The Story Circle project, which was headed by Jerry Stropnicky, a theatre practitioner in the United States gave her great insights into the use of story as a mechanism to help people cope with different aspects of life such as trauma.

She has also ventured into directing and worked on a theatre project, Afroman Spice from Afroman ensemble, an all female theatre ensemble. The project premiered in Kampala in June 2015 and has since been staged at The Market for African Performing Arts (MASA) in Ivory Coast and is booked to show in Rwanda, Tunisia and Niger in 2016.

As a teacher she has facilitated training sessions with other arts projects and her desire to gain more life experience and share what she knows with others in a professional environment drives her to work with people from all walks of life. Her experience has also involved instruction of children in different schools around the city of Kampala.


Esteri got her first acting role in a short film on one of the programs of the Maisha Film Lab program– a Uganda-based non-profit film training initiative founded by award-winning director Mira Nair for emerging East African and South Asian filmmakers. She acted in Judith Adong's Sins of the Parents in 2008 and Master on Duty in 2009 by Joseph Ken Ssebaggala. Her latest film work was on the soon to be released Walt Disney Pictures production, Queen of Katwe, starring Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo.[3][4] Speaking about the film, Esteri describes the impact that Queen of Katwe has had on her in the following words:

"Before the film, I was afraid of my dreams because they were so big. But now I am even more scared—they are bigger."[5]

Mira Nair, one of her greatest inspirations in the film industry in a recent article describes her as "a luminous person."[6] Quoting Mira Nair's famous maxim:

"If we don't tell our own stories, no one else will."

To that end, she is committed to developing stories from her home country, Uganda and the African continent which address themes of local significance but with international appeal. She is exploring the possibilities of developing Ugandan content in collaboration with various creatives in East Africa and beyond.

She runs a regular comic strip, MUNNA-YOU which is a parody on idiosyncrasies of Ugandans through the eyes of one character. As a budding illustrator and cartoonist, she hopes to show the world what it means to be Ugandan in contemporary times.

Personal life[edit]

Esteri has been married since 2011 to Samuel Lutaaya Tebandeke, a screenwriter and actor. They currently live in Nairobi, Kenya.



Year Title Role Director Notes
2008 Sins of the Parents Sister Adong Judith Short film
2009 Master on Duty Vicky Joseph Kenneth Ssebaggala Feature film
2016 Queen of Katwe Sara Katende Mira Nair Feature film
2016 Her Broken Shadow Adongo and Apio Dilman Dila Feature film
2017 Imperial Blue Kisakye Dan Moss Feature film
2018 Kahawa Black Kana Wamba Sharpe Ssewali In development


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Lion and the Jewel Sidi
2012 Cooking Oil Maria
2012 Maria Kizito Multiple characters [1]
2013 Cooking Oil Maria
2014 Maria Kizito Maria Kizito
2015 The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian War Kate
2016 Conversations With My Mother Multiple characters

External links[edit]



  1. ^ "The lion, the jewel and the political undertones". Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  2. ^ "Playwright network is finally back". Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  3. ^ "'Queen of Katwe' Ugandan premiere set for October 1 –". Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  4. ^ "Queen Of Katwe: Esther Tebandeke On Working With David Oyelowo". Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  5. ^ Kaggwa, Andrew. "Esteri Tebandeke: Queen of Katwe changed my life". Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  6. ^ "SA film location irks Ugandans". News24. Retrieved 2016-10-15.