Woman King star Thuso Mbedu is letting us know there is no stopping her on her path to greatness

Deborah Dzifa Makafui November 22, 2022
Thuso Mbedu in The Woman King. (Sony Pictures)

African performers have been sweeping the global film industry in this period of inclusiveness, intercontinental relations, and telling African stories to the globe. Female actors like Thuso Mbedu have been breaking glass ceilings since she started her acting career and she recently reminded us of her part as “Nawi” in The Woman King. For her, the opportunities are limitless. 

Mbedu plays Nawi, the newest recruit to the Agojie, an all-female army of warriors that guarded the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s, in what is now known as Benin, in Gina Prince-film Bythewood’s The Woman King. Mbedu’s unabashed passion for The Woman King was evident to anybody who followed her on social media, as she took her admirers along on her transformation into Nawi in order to be the perfect match for the part she achieved.

In The Woman King, Mbedu plays a figure who is in misery, and her vocal desolation shines through her cries. In contrast, the 31-year-old actress handled the part of Cora in Barry Jenkins’ Emmy-nominated television series The Underground Railroad with calm strength. Fans in her native South Africa have long appreciated her ability to fully inhabit a role, as she did with Winnie in Is’thunzi, which led to two nominations for best performance at the International Emmys. However, thanks to her most recent role, audiences outside of the continent are also quickly becoming familiar with Mbedu. 

We learn more about The Woman King star, her life, her accomplishments, and The Woman King movie in this article. Thuso Nokwanda Mbedu was born and reared in Pelham, a Pietermaritzburg neighborhood in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. When she was 4 years old, her mother passed away as a result of a brain tumor. Her mother and father had split up before she was born, so her grandmother raised her.

Before her mother’s death, Mbedu did not have a relationship with her father. Her grandma was laid to rest in 2013, not long after her father passed away in 2012. Mbedu is very close to her sister, Nomalungelo Mbedu. Additionally, she spent two months in 2012 studying acting at the Stella Adler Studio in New York City.

In 2013, Mbedu was cast in a part in Isibaya. She appeared briefly in the second season of the Mzansi Magic serial opera isiBaya in late 2014 before earning the part of Kitso, a wild child and journalism student, on Scandal. Following six months of unemployment, Mbedu received her first television lead role in the Mzansi Magic adolescent drama series Is’thunzi, which debuted in October 2016. She portrayed Winnie in the show, a sassy go-getter whose ambition of marrying a wealthy and well-known rugby star was destroyed when she was banished to live with her stern aunt in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal.

She achieved success in the world of worldwide television in 2019. In The Underground Railroad, she was cast as Cora. Colson Whitehead’s best-selling novel of the same name served as the basis for the television series. For her major performance as “Cora” in Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad, she just won the Independent Spirit Award, Gotham Award, Hollywood Critics Association Award, and was nominated for a Critics Choice Award, making her the first South African leading lady of a U.S. television series.

Mbedu is doing exceptionally well for herself. For her ground-breaking performance on the series Is’Thunzi, she was nominated for her second International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in 2018. For her work on the show, she received a SAFTA (South African Film & TV Awards) for Best Actress – TV Drama. She was also highlighted on the cover of the Forbes Africa “Under 30″ issue that year, which celebrated young African leaders. The actress appears to be doing fairly well for herself, and her ascent to prominence shows there is no stopping her on her path to greatness.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 22, 2022


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