It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Mbula Enobong. She was a dear friend, fellow improviser and an all around amazing human. She brought true joy to so many in the role of Loria Berenice in season 2 of Alba Salix and as The Captain in Civilized.
I will always remember Mbula as the shining light that was my first week at Hamilton Improv. How she would cackle and hug me so ferociously as we attacked the status quo and delved into diversity and anti-racism in our sketches on stage together. I felt fearless when I was around Mbula. Her smile and kindness were unmatchable.
Eli and I put everything we had into Loria and Pearcey. This would be our coming out in an audio drama. This was our first same sex couple and we wanted them to be vivacious and alive and so human. Mbula was the first person we thought of as we created Loria and we were overjoyed when she agreed to take on the role.
I’ll never forget that weekend in studio. It was Mbula’s first time acting from a script and she was a little terrified. But there is such a strength in Mbula. She grabbed her script and marched into the booth. And we began recording one of the first scenes between Loria and Pearcey. It was just Mbula and Elaine in the room.
I remember us doing a few takes and we could hear Mbula’s nerves. It wasn’t working. And it was up to me as co-Director to help get her comfortable. I was wracking my brain for how to help her feel like she was on an improv stage, but I also understood. To this day, I struggle when I’m handed a script. The fellow improviser in me was at a loss.
And that’s when Mbula asked us to wait and she turned to Elaine, who plays Pearcey. I heard her ask Elaine if they could turn and face each other as they did the scene. Elaine, who is one of the most unflappable and stunning actors I’ve ever worked with, nodded and they turned their music stands and said they were ready to go again. This time, Elaine played to Mbula and I watched as she gave Mbula the energy and prompts Mbula so craved. Suddenly, Mbula was improvising.
That is the take that we ended up using. It was gold.
Mbula has never hidden from the fact that she struggled with her mental health. She was always an advocate for bringing our improv and community efforts to those who might not otherwise have access to improv theatre and the arts.
I know Mbula would want others to know that help is out there if you are in need. These are difficult times. Please reach out to your loved ones and friends. And if you are in need of help, please contact a local crisis line.
I will forever remember her smile, her infectious laughter and a hug that went on for days.
We will miss you, Mbula Enobong. May your laughter ring out on your next journey.