A STAR IS BORN

Ac­tress Thuso Mbedu in run­ning for Emmy

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By LEONIE WAGNER

When se­cu­rity guards re­sponded to the sound of women scream­ing, they dis­cov­ered it was screams of joy and cel­e­bra­tion com­ing from Thuso Mbedu’s Jo­han­nes­burg apart­ment.

She had found out via a con­grat­u­la­tory tweet that she’d been nom­i­nated for an In­ter­na­tional Emmy Award.

This week the 26-year-old South African ac­tress got the nod for the best per­for­mance by an ac­tress for her role in Mzansi Magic’s se­ries Is’Thunzi.

The awards are for TV shows pro­duced and aired out­side the US. Oth­ers nom­i­nated in the cat­e­gory are Brazil’s Adri­ana Esteves, English ac­tress Anna Friel and Ger­many’s Sonja Ger­hardt.

Mbedu told the Sunday Times this week that she was al­ready plan­ning her trip to the awards cer­e­mony in New York in Novem­ber, and that her out­fit would be de­signed by Gert-Jo­han Coet­zee.

“It’s the weird­est thing. I was never ex­pect­ing this nom­i­na­tion so I’m still pro­cess­ing what it means. I hope it will cre­ate more op­por­tu­ni­ties,” she said.

While Mbedu’s ca­reer has been an easy ride so far — she has landed ev­ery act­ing job she’s au­di­tioned for — her child­hood was less than rosy.

When she was four, her mother died of a brain tu­mour. She wasn’t close to her fa­ther and was raised by her grand­mother in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg.

Af­ter com­plet­ing her hon­ours de­gree in drama at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand in 2013 she re­turned to KwaZulu-Natal, but in Jan­uary 2014 she used the last of her money to move to Joburg to pur­sue her dream.

Her break came when she au­di­tioned for the Mzansi Magic se­ries Saints and Sin­ners.

De­spite her suc­cess, she ad­mits to be­ing frus­trated with play­ing young char­ac­ters. “I’m not a kid, I’ve got bills to pay and I can do so much more than act like an 18-year-old.”

Is’Thunzi, set in KwaZulu-Natal, is a teen drama that fol­lows four friends. It pre­miered last October.

Mbedu’s mentor, direc­tor and writer, Amanda Lane, said that when Mbedu walked in to au­di­tion for Is’Thunzi she showed ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­ity and emo­tional depth. The fi­nal episode of the sec­ond sea­son of

Is’Thunzi will be broad­cast to­mor­row. Mbedu said she would re­turn to screens early next year as the lead role in a new te­len­ov­ela.

Pic­ture: Sim­phiwe Nk­wali

Thuso Mbedu has been nom­i­nated for an In­ter­na­tional Emmy for her role in the Mzansi Magic se­ries ‘Is’Thunzi’.

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