Thuso Mbedu finally cracks it
Talented, undeniably a star and yet flying under the radar are the first words that come to mind when ingénue Thuso Mbedu's name is mentioned.
The 25-year-old underrated actress is finally getting some recognition for her impressive acting work after scooping a DStv Viewers' Choice Awards nod. She is nominated among a legion of acting heavyweights - Masasa Mbangeni, Vatiswa Ndara, Dawn Thandeka King and Lorcia Cooper.
"I'm still knocking, I haven't arrived. I'm really honoured and humbled to be considered among such great actors," Mbedu says coyly.
She describes last year as "the worst year of her life" as she spent six months sitting at home and not getting any acting gigs.
"The year 2017 has come with wonderful challenges that herald growth. Sitting home for six months last year was hell," Mbedu recalls.
"At the time I was getting a lot of 'you look too young and we don't have any schoolgirl roles for you', but writing kept me sane.
"The most challenging thing in this industry is when you look at a role on TV and go 'I could have aced it', but you didn't get it because you are not famous enough, a yellow-bone or you look too young."
During her dry spell, Mbedu wrote two scripts, the first a feature film. The late film maker Junaid Ahmed helped her approach the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission for development funding.
In April, she filmed a pilot on location around Johannesburg for a series she wrote, directed and acted in. Her actor friends Sdumo Mtshali, Altovise Lawrence and Bohang Moeko star in it.
"We are still trying to edit the pilot. Everything was done with the help of people for free. We are making progress," Mbedu says excitedly.
"It still needs work but I appreciate that we took the initiative to shoot it. I have spoken to Amanda Lane [I'sthunzi creator] and she has agreed to shoot it. She's my script editor as well. I also want Thabang Moleya [Happiness is a Four-Letter Word director] to direct it.
"I don't want to spread myself too thin by doing everything myself because you miss things. I will shadow them."
Mbedu has taken the small screen by storm this year. When MTV Shuga: Down South needed a fragile orphaned schoolgirl taking care of her young brother, Mbedu rose to the occasion.
In January, she reprised her role as Nthati Moshesh's daughter in Saints and Sinners, having a steamy affair with her married varsity lecturer (Thami Mngqolo).
Mbedu is currently heating up e.tv soapie Scandal! as feisty journalist Kitso Medupe. But it is her role as temptress Winnie on youth drama I'sthunzi that is making her a household name. The much-anticipated second season of the Mzansi Magic hit drama returns on Monday.
"Season two is so relevant to what is happening in the country, especially with the recent femicide cases. It's heavy because of the subject matter. It took me two weeks to recover after shooting. It messed me up emotionally. There was a time I had an anxiety attacks on set."
Mbedu was raised in Pietermaritzburg by her grandmother. Her mother died when she was four. She studied drama at Wits University.
"I didn't have a relationship with my father. I found the divorce certificate when I was 11, that's when I discovered that my parents divorced before I was born," Mbedu shares.
"I guess they separated around the time I was conceived. He passed away when I was 21. My grandmother passed away in 2014. Right now it's just me and my older sister who has a child."