Amazon Prime’s gripping new series Underground Railroad is getting a lot of early buzz, and plenty of people are zeroing in on actress Thuso Mbedu, who plays Cora, a young enslaved woman seeking freedom on the Railroad.
Thuso, 29, is already well-known in South Africa. But this is her breakout role in America. So who is Thuso Mbedu, exactly? Here’s what you need to know about the up-and-coming star.
She’s originally from South Africa.
Thuso was born in Pietermaritzburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, according to her IMDB bio. Her mother died when she was four, and she never knew her father, she told Elle. So, Thuso was largely raised by her grandmother. “My life wasn’t as hard as others, but it wasn’t easy,” she told Vogue. She now lives in Los Angeles.
She once wanted to be a dermatologist.
Thuso has had skin allergies since she was a child and decided to become a dermatologist, which her grandmother was all about. But she discovered drama class in high school and changed her mind. “I was like, ‘This thing can be used to heal and help people,'” she told Vogue. Her grandmother wasn’t impressed and didn’t speak to Thuso for a month after she announced that she would study performing arts in college.
She’s had a lot of success already.
Thuso landed the first part she auditioned for, Vogue says, and eventually earned the lead role in the South African teen drama Is’Thunzi.
Underground Railroad was actually Thuso’s first audition in America. “I didn't expect anything would come from it,” she told Newsweek. Thuso also said she was nervous she wasn’t right for the part, telling Newsweek that “I had moments where I was like, I don't even know, maybe I should tell them that I'm going to pull out because I don't know if I'm good enough to tell the story.”
She’s big on social media.
Thuso has 1.3 million followers on Instagram, TYVM. There, she’s shared BTS content from Underground Railroad, along with pics from photoshoots and workouts.
She’s not sure what to make about the buzz surrounding Underground Railroad.
“I don't think it has really sunken in,” Thuso told Newsweek. “I hear people talk and it feels like they know something that I don't know. I'm just excited for people to see the story because it's an important story that needs to be told but also the way in which it was told, the choices [director] Barry [Jenkins] made, the videographers, sound, lighting, editing, it feels like a masterpiece.”
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