Kaunda Selisho

By Kaunda Selisho


Review: Thuso Mbedu was meant to star in ‘The Woman King’ 

Not only does Thuso Mbedu slay as a fierce warrior who knows her way around some weapons, but she also manages to get the audience to care.

I can’t exactly pinpoint when I first watched Thuso Mbedu on screen, but the day I did, it left an unforgettable mark on me that immediately made me trust her, even as a young actress. 

Whether in a lead or supporting role, Thuso always brought an incredible sense of respect to every role bestowed upon her, helping her characters become fully realised beyond the pages of the script and telling their stories with such a level of urgency that you’re left with no choice but to care about them. 

One such role was that of Winnie on Isithunzi – the very role that got her one of two international Emmy nominations in the Best Performance by an Actress category. 

Though she did not take home the iEmmy, she managed to get her name on the radar of the right producers and directors. 

It wasn’t long before Thuso Mbedu was announced as the lead in Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad drama series. It is this role that I believe led to her casting in The Woman King and after having seen the film at the Johannesburg premiere, I can’t imagine any other actress in the role. 

The Woman King

Loosely based on a true historical episode, The Woman King stars Viola Davis as the fierce general, Nanisca, who leads an army known as the Agojie as it protects the 18th-century kingdom of Dahomey.

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The film also featured talents such as John Boyega, Lashawna Lynch, Sheila Atim, Siv Ngesi and Seputla Sebogodi and is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.

In it, Thuso Mbedu stars as Nawi – an indignant, defiant and hot-headed young woman turned warrior after her parents fail to marry her off to a handful of potential suitors. 

Much like the other Agojie, hers is a tale of loss, pain, suffering and lessons learned culminating in an eventual triumph.

Not only does Mbedu slay as a fierce warrior who knows her way around some weapons and hand-to-hand combat, she manages to get the audience to care. This is a quality that can often be overlooked, especially in a world that pushes people towards desensitization. 

Beyond the well-choreographed fight scenes, witty exchanges and glistening skin that looks glorious is an underlying story that most people can relate to, not just women of colour.

The Woman King is a satisfying mix of action and story that is best watched with a friend or group of friends for the discussions you will undoubtedly want to have after seeing the film. 

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