A star that con­tin­ues to shine

Creative Feel - - CONTENTS -

Thuso Mbedu’s ex­pe­di­tious act­ing ca­reer has seen her be­come one of South Africa’s top ac­tresses.

Thuso Mbedu’s ex­pe­di­tious act­ing ca­reer has seen her be­come one of South Africa’s top ac­tresses. A fa­mil­iar face to many, she has graced our tele­vi­sion screens since 2016 and re­cently made it into the 2018 Forbes Africa Un­der 30 list. Mbedu gra­ciously gave Cre­ative Feel’s Tshep­ang Ralek­gari a mo­ment of her time to chat about her jour­ney so far.

Life has not al­ways been all glitz and glam­our for Thuso Mbedu. Grow­ing up, this beau­ti­ful ac­tress bat­tled with skin prob­lems, which fu­eled her goal to be­come a der­ma­tol­o­gist. But life led her down a dif­fer­ent path. In grade 10, she wrote, di­rected and starred in a school pro­duc­tion; the play re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion. Mbedu fell in love with the art of act­ing.

At times, one needs some form of in­spi­ra­tion in or­der to suc­ceed in what we want to ac­com­plish. ‘In terms of those that in­spire me to be bet­ter, it is not ac­tu­ally one per­son; it is a num­ber of people around me and in my cir­cle,’ says Mbedu. ‘I also draw in­spi­ra­tion from var­i­ous well-known people, of which some are not spe­cific to act­ing or my craft.’

Mbedu’s break­out role was in Is’thunzi, a role that she says was a chal­lenge and al­lowed her to show­case what she is ca­pa­ble of. An­other project that is of great sig­nif­i­cance and a source of pride for Mbedu is iDrive, a crime ac­tion drama se­ries that she wrote. While she has man­aged to shoot the pi­lot and get the ball rolling on the project, she says that she needs ‘more fund­ing so that I can bring it to your tele­vi­sion screens. To be able to cre­ate con­tent and see it come to life and be sup­ported by in­dus­try col­leagues is amaz­ing.’

Growth comes with hard work, and ev­ery suc­cess­ful jour­ney has chal­lenges one has to over­come. Though Mbedu ex­pe­ri­enced many of these such chal­lenges, she pushed for­ward in pur­suit of what she is pas­sion­ate about. Hav­ing grad­u­ated with an Hon­ours De­gree cum laude from the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, she says, ‘The jour­ney be­yond univer­sity was dif­fi­cult. I left home in 2014 with no fi­nan­cial back­ing and I couch-surfed at my friend’s place while I au­di­tioned and hoped to ac­quire my first job. When a close aunt of mine de­parted this life – hav­ing played a ma­jor role in as­sist­ing our grand­mother with rais­ing us – three days be­fore my grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony; sadly I could not go back home for her fu­neral. My sis­ter was able to ar­rive in the morn­ing and leave im­me­di­ately af­ter the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony.

‘Five weeks later, a few days be­fore my first TV de­but, my grand­mother passed on. It was a dread­ful pe­riod for me. I had to use that pay-cheque to help my sis­ter and her daugh­ter re­lo­cate from KwaZulu-Natal to come live with me in Jo­han­nes­burg. I did not get a job for an­other three months and the jobs that came in af­ter that were few and did not pay much. In 2016, I found my­self with­out a job for al­most six months. That made me ques­tion if I should con­tinue on this path or “get a real job” like oth­ers would say.’

Dur­ing this time, Mbedu be­gan writ­ing the types of scripts that she would like to see her­self in. A year later, she is start­ing to see her hard work come to fruition. In ad­di­tion to iDrive, Mbedu has writ­ten a fea­ture film, which has been com­mis­sioned for development by the KZN Film Com­mis­sion.

‘So it is about look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing hard times. If I am work­ing, I do not have time to write, it was a bless­ing that has al­lowed me to hone my writ­ing skills,’ she says.

When asked what her core mo­ti­va­tion to suc­ceed is, Mbedu says, ‘Never stop dream­ing. Pray with­out ceas­ing be­cause there is a God who lis­tens. I have ex­pe­ri­enced Him for my­self and no­body can take that truth away from me.

Yes, you have to work twice as hard as the next per­son, but that’s okay be­cause the jour­ney makes the end­point that much more en­joy­able. The process teaches you not to take any­thing for granted and it builds char­ac­ter, which sus­tains you much longer than any­thing else can.

‘Keep your head down. Fo­cus on what mat­ters. Put in the work. It’s not how you start that mat­ters, it’s how you fin­ish. You will not re­gret push­ing through. Para­phras­ing from Won­der Woman: “You’re stronger than you be­lieve and hold more power than you know.” Oh, and train­ing is vi­tal!’

Win­ning an award in recog­ni­tion of our hard work or tal­ent is some­thing that we all hope to at­tain, but it’s of­ten a dream that feels out of reach. This is true for Mbedu too, who thought that if she was for­tu­nate to win any awards, it would only be in her thir­ties or for­ties. Be­ing nom­i­nated for an Emmy Award and DStv Mzansi View­ers’ Choice Award so early in her ca­reer was truly unan­tic­i­pated, but it was a de­light­ful and most hum­bling sur­prise for Mbedu. Win­ning an award at the South African

Film and Tele­vi­sion Awards (SAFTAs) this year, she says was ‘amaz­ing. It is al­ways pleas­ant to be recog­nised in one’s coun­try as this is my home. It was a sweet experience.’

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