Thuso Mbedu. Picture: Noa Grayevsky
Thuso Mbedu. Picture: Noa Grayevsky

Thuso Mbedu bags role alongside Viola Davis

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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We are sure Thuso Mbedu has had to pinch herself a couple of times since bagging the role of Cora on Barry Jenkin’s “The Underground Railroad”.

We are even more certain that she’s doing it more often, especially with the news that she has been cast in “The Woman King”.

Thuso, who is a two-time International Emmy Award nominee for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Mzansi Magic’s “Is’Thunzi”, will be starring alongside the celebrated Viola Davis in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s upcoming film, “The Woman King”.

The film is set to be a historical epic inspired by true events in The Kingdom of Dahomey. The pre-colonial kingdom in present-day Benin existed from about 1600 until 1904. It was one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Deadline reports that “The Woman King” will follow Nanisca (Davis), a general of the all-female military unit (think Dora Milaje of “Black Panther”), and Nawi (Thuso) her ambitious protégé, who fight enemies who violated their honour, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.

Thuso was hand-picked for the role by Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner Davis and her producing partner and husband, Julius Tennon.

“The depth and complexity of emotional life, her authentic beauty, and regalness is potent. We were mesmerised by Thuso Mbedu. We wantedThe Woman King/Nawi’ to be the vehicle to introduce her on the big screen,” Davis and Tennon told Deadline.

And it seems Thuso manifested the casting. In her interview with Dazed Digital, she said she was a fan of Prince-Blythewood and Davis and would love to work with them.

“I would definitely love to work with Gina Prince-Bythewood. I’ve always loved ’Love & Basketball’ and I love what she did with ’The Old Guard’.

“Then, obviously, Viola Davis – I’ve always been so inspired by her. I’d also love to work with Regina King, as an actress and a director, especially after watching ’One Night in Miami’.”

In “The Underground Railroad”, Thuso plays the main character, Cora, who escapes a Georgia plantation, and boards a train embarking on a trip as she seeks true freedom, while being hunted by a notorious slave catcher.

It won’t be shocking when more directors and casting agents come calling after they see her on Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins’s Underground Railroad, where she plays the lead character. Thuso is a talented performer who leaves viewers shocked and wanting more.

The way she tackles her characters has led to her being one of the best young actors in South Africa and, with the two Emmy nods, it is no surprise that she is expected to steal the thunder from her co-stars on the Amazon Prime series, which include Joel Edgerton (“Loving”), Lily Rabe (“American Horror Story”) and William Jackson Harper (“The Good Place”).

“The Underground Railroad” premieres on Friday, May 14, 2021 on Amazon Prime.

It is based on the book of the same name.

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