WATCH: Thuso Mbedu speaks to Trevor Noah about 'The Underground Railroad'

Trevor Noah and Thuso Mbedu. Picture: YouTube Screenshot

Trevor Noah and Thuso Mbedu. Picture: YouTube Screenshot

Published May 17, 2021


Local actress Thuso Mbedu, who is making global waves as the first South African to lead a US television series, has made an appearance on “The Daily Show”.

The actress stars in “The Underground Railroad” and recently sat down with fellow South African Trevor Noah to discuss her breakout role.

Thuso, who hails from Pietermaritzburg, plays Cora in the series which follows a young enslaved woman who escapes a Georgia plantation, making use of an underground railroad to journey to freedom.

“I heard ofThe Underground Railroad’ in November 2018 while I was in New York for the International Emmy Awards,” Thuso told Trevor.

“I did the first audition and sort of just forgot about it because I didn’t think anything of it. After I came to LA in 2019 … I got a callback and Barry Jenkins wanted to meet me the next day! At the end of it, he looked at me and he said, ’you are the character’,” said Thuso.

The star said she had to unlearn her previous knowledge of slavery.

“I realised early on that I had a lot of unlearning to do to learn the truth, in the sense that what I knew about the enslaved body in America was shaped by media in a very white male gaze, so that serves a particular agenda.

“So I had to throw all of that away and completely be open to new information,” she said.

Leading up to the release of ’The Underground Railroad’, Thuso took to social media to speak about working with director Barry Jenkins.

“Working with Barry was amazing. It was one of the easiest things I've done. He makes it easy, man. It’s like having a conversation — an easy, flowing, unforced conversation.

“We all knew and understood what we were working towards and, through collaboration, we were able to help each other get there,” wrote Thuso.

The former “MTV Shuga” star said that through Jenkins’s vision, he showed the cast what humanity looks like. She added that he made the cast and crew feel safe on set.

“Through him just being him, he showed us what humanity looks like.

“Barry is also very kind. He is crazy and funny and so welcoming and respectful of everyone.

“He has this thing where he’ll randomly check in to see if you’re okay.

“That just made everyone feel safe and understood,” she said.

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