Ntare Mwine Is New Kid in the Spotlight in 'Six Degrees'

You could call Ntare Mwine the new kid on the block.

"I've never done any film or TV," announces the 25-year-old actor, who has the lead role of Paul--a charming con man claiming to be Sidney Poitier's son--in John Guare's "Six Degrees of Separation" at the Doolittle Theatre. A recent MFA graduate of New York University, Mwine notes: "This is my first professional gig; I'm used to playing to 100 seats at NYU. Press night was probably the scariest night of my life. I think I had an out-of-body experience."

The Uganda-born Mwine, son of a Harvard Law School-educated attorney, recalls an early interest in acting. "My mom put me on 'Romper Room' and I auditioned for 'Zoom,' " he says. "But I never really did anything about it." It wasn't until he went away to a Canadian boarding school in the ninth grade that he found himself drawn to theater; yet even in college, he concentrated on rugby and a political science major.

"I think I took five years off my dad's life when I told him I wanted to be an actor," chuckles Mwine, who is currently basking in his first-ever autographs requests ("Can you believe it?").

In spite of his initial performance jitters, the actor is very happy with his role as Paul, a disarming and disturbing presence vaulted into the sheltered lives of his unsuspecting hosts.

"The character has so many angles," he says. "It was very difficult to work on--not his nature, but the nature of the show itself. In pacing and size, it's almost operatic. And we had to break it down to the shape the director wanted: no pauses, no breaks. There's no time to think--just go ."

New to Los Angeles, Mwine (who reports that his New York friends are finding his sudden star status "very amusing") has yet to form any impressions of the city.

"I haven't really seen anything of L.A.," he admits. "I've either been in the rehearsal hall or in my room. I've got to get out sometime."

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