From A 4-Year-Old Orphan To An International Award-Winning Actress: Inspiring Story Of Thuso Mbedu



When Thuso Mbedu was a child in the early 1990s, he never imagined becoming a celebrity. She originally planned to become a dermatologist, but in the 10th grade, she took a dramatic arts class and developed an interest in acting.

She has become one of the most in-demand South African actors because to her successful acting career, which has brought her recognition and money both domestically and abroad. She was named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine at the age of 27 and included in the 2018 Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 List.

She was born on July 8, 1991, to a Zulu mother and a Xhosa and Sotho father in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her parents passed away when she was just four years old, thus she never got to enjoy their care. She was brought up by her grandmother, a severe school administrator both at home and at school. Her name, Thuso, is a Sotho name, Nokwanda is a Zulu name, and Mbedu is a Xhosa name, reflecting the multiracial tribes of her parents.

Mbedu studied physical theatre and performing arts management at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, graduating in 2013 after attending Pelham Primary School and Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School. She participated in a summer program at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City earlier in 2012.


She made her acting debut in 2014 in the bit part of “Nosisa” in the well-known South African soap opera “Isibaya” from Mzansi Magic. She appeared as a guest actor in 2015’s second season of the SABC 2 youth drama series “Snake Park” as “Kheti.”

She played “Winnie” in the teen drama television series “IS’THUNZI” produced by Mzansi Magic, which gave her her first major role. She made her worldwide debut in the American fantasy historical drama series “The Underground Railroad,” which is based on Colson Whitehead’s book of the same name.

She made her acting debut in 2022’s “The Woman King,” an epic historical drama about the people of Agosie, who from the 17th through the 19th century guarded the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. She portrayed “Nawi,” a fervent recruit in the army.

For her performance as Winnie Bhengu in the 2016–2017 television drama series “IS’THUNZI,” Mbedu received nominations for the “DSTV Viewers Choice Awards” and the “International Emmy Awards for the “Best Performance by an Actress” in 2017.

She received the “South African Film and Television Awards” for “Best Actress – TV Drama” in 2018 for her performance as “Winnie Bhengu” in the television drama series “IS’THUNZI” from 2016 to 2017. For her performance as Winnie Bhengu in the television drama series “IS’THUNZI,” she was also nominated for a “International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress.”

She received nominations for several awards in 2021, including the “Television Critics Association Award” for “Individual Achievement in Drama,” the “Black Reel Awards” for “Outstanding Actress – TV Movie or Limited Series,” the “Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards” for “Best Actress in a Limited Series, Anthropology Series, or Television Movie,” the “Gotham Awards” for “Outstanding Performance in New Series,” the “Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards” for “TV

She received the Hollywood Critics Association TV’s “TV Breakout Star” award and the Gotham Awards’ “Outstanding Performance in New Series” honor.

For her performance as Cora Randall in the 2021 television series “The Underground Railroad,” Mbedu received a nomination for the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards (Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series). For her performance as Cora Randall in “The Underground Railroad,” she was awarded the “Critics Choice Television Awards” for “Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie.”

In her keynote speech at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit, Thuso Mbedu tearfully spoke of how she overcame the loss of her dear parents, grandmother, and aunt. But her role in Amanda Lane’s ‘IS’THUNZI’ gradually renewed her hope in life.

“…my world was that blur, until Amanda Lane happened in 2016. The role that Amanda Lane gave me was the difference between life and death for me. Receiving that audition brief, I told myself that I would audition like it was my last audition. I gave it the last of everything that I had, that at the time I got the callback, I had nothing left. I secretly made the decision not to do the callback because I had nothing left to give. But fortunately, I received the callback. So I didn’t do the callback because the role was mine. I had given up. I was in a very dark place at the time, and the character, the role, the opportunity, was a much needed light. And I told myself that I will act as if it was the last character that I will play. And through a great script and an amazing director, I earned two International Emmy Awards for that role…


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