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South Africa’s Mbedu to star alongside Viola Davis

MPHO RANTAO

ACTRESS Thuso Mbedu’s journey to international superstardom is gaining serious momentum. 

The South African actress, currently shooting in the US, has been cast alongside Academy award-winning actress Viola Davis in the film, The Woman King.  And Davis is super-impressed with Mbedu. 

“The depth and complexity of emotional life, her authentic beauty, and regalness is potent. We were mesmerized by Thuso Mbedu. We wanted Woman King / Nawi to be the vehicle to introduce her on the big screen” said Viola Davis and Julius Tennon of JuVee Productions. 

JuVee is one of the production companies listed to be involved in The Woman King.

Mbedu is starring in her first leading US series The Underground Railroad as a slave named Cora, set to be released in May and directed by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. 

The 10-episode series will premiere on Amazon Prime in May and is co-produced by a number of producers, among those Jenkins and Brad Pitt. 

The Woman King is a biographical film that is inspired by the historical tale of true events that happened in the Kingdom of Dahomey during the 18th and 19th centuries, in present-day Benin. 

The story follows Nanisca, General of the historical all-female military unit known as The Mino, and Nawi, a new recruit, who together fought enemies who violated their honor and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.

Viola Davis reacted with glee to the news on Twitter, tweeting: “very excited”. 

The new film will be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, who most recently directed the critically acclaimed Charlize Theron-leading, The Old Guard.

“Thuso is a generational talent. Her craft, her work ethic, her depth, her passion inspired us all and I cannot wait to play. She is a warrior,” said Prince-Bythewood.

Mbedu herself wrote on Twitter: “So this happened. Dreams do come true.”

South African fans were very chuffed and excited at the announcement of Mbedu’s casting alongside fan-favourite Viola Davis.

Mbuthama Yanga said: “Guys, Viola Davis complimented @ThusoMbedu’’s acting (sic) VIOLA DAVIS?!?”

Lathi tweeted: “This girl mesmerized me as Boni in Saints and sinners. Her emotions tagged at my heart, she made it so real. She makes me so proud to be South African. Ladies and gentlemen, @ThusoMbedu”

Mbedu’s role in The Underground Railroad makes her the first South African actress to lead a US/International series. She joined the cast after being nominated twice for an International Emmy Award for her role in the South African drama series Is’Thunzi. 

The Underground Railroad is based on the best-selling novel by Colson Whitehead, who also serves as a producer, which has won a Pulitzer Prize. In an early interview, director Barry Jenkins revealed that he had handpicked Mbedu for the main role of Cora.

See the trailer for The Underground Trailer here.