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SA actress makes it big

A 29-year-old actress from KZN has Oprah Winfrey singing her praises. Thuso Mdebu has wowed audiences with her performance as Cora Randall in Amazon Prime’s series, The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about slavery in the US. 

Mbedu worked her way up in the local acting scene, on shows like Mzansi Magic’s Saints and Sinners, Isibaya and Scandal. In 2015 she landed a leading role in the award-winning Is’thunzi drama series. She was nominated twice at the International Emmys, in 2017 and 2018, for her role as Winnie and while she was in the US for the awards ceremony, her agent encouraged her to audition for The Underground Railroad. You’d think an outsider with no international experience wouldn’t stand a chance, but Mbedu wowed director Barry Jenkins.

Now she’s set to feature in yet another big series to be shot here in SA: The Women King starring Oscar award-winning actresses Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o. 

As Trevor Noah put it, she’s living the ultimate dream. She made it big in the US and got people to come back to SA with her to make another show, thus scoring herself a round-trip ticket. 😂

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates