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7 Questions With… Thuso Mbedu

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Thuso Mbedu

Thuso Mbedu was nominated for the 45th International Emmy Awards in New York in November, for her role as Winnie in Is’thunzi. She did not win, but the actress, who is also an entrepreneur, still wowed in her blue Gert-Johan Coetzee dress. We spoke to her weeks before the ceremony.

  1. Did you ever think you would be nominated for an Emmy?

One dreams of such accolades but never thinks they are attainable. In my wildest dreams, I would attain such in my mid-30s or 40s, if I am lucky. This nomination was truly unexpected but it was a pleasant and most humbling surprise.

  1. Have you planned your speech?

Yes, I have and simply because I want to thank all those who supported and believed in me. I need to make sure I emphasize hard work and the pursuit of excellence is never in vain. This is just the beginning of great things. Even if I don’t bring the award home, I will still use the very same speech to thank everybody. The speech will not change; just the platform and time. I truly am grateful for the opportunity.

  1. If you don’t win…

I’m going to keep at it. I can only push harder and get better. Again, this is just the beginning. I will work with my colleagues to ensure the global audience stays aware we have talent to be reckoned with. International productions must know when they come to our country to shoot their productions there is a great talent pool they can choose from. They can use us to tell our stories and we are also available in aiding to tell the global stories because we are more than capable. I am very excited about the future of acting in South Africa.

  1. What we don’t know about you…

I love dogs.  I’m a dreamer — with a very vivid imagination. I am a creative artist whose mind is always working overtime. I see possibilities and opportunities in almost everything. I’m very sensitive to what others go through. I once forced my housemates to go star-gazing. It wasn’t anything fancy because we cannot afford the fancy things yet. I drove them to the rooftop of a mall and we put our fleece blankets on the ground and looked at the stars.

  1. Where to from here?

I will definitely continue creating my own work. I want to produce films and series that will be consumed globally. It’s not just about me. I have to work hard in order to attain my ultimate goal which is to open an orphanage or an arts academy where kids will be taken care of. I want to reach a place of such influence that people with money will want to sponsor the upbringing of a child even if they do not want to adopt a child. The basic foundations are integral. I want to ensure that as many kids as space and finances will allow will have those foundations of love, support, education.

  1. What roles would you want to play?

I have three ‘ideal’ roles. Viola Davis (Annalise Keating) in How to Get Away with Murder, Taraji P. Henson (Cookie Lyon) in Empire, and Heath Ledger (Joker) in The Dark Knight. The aforementioned characters differ in immense ways and they are characters that would certainly challenge me as an artist. I always welcome challenges as they result in growth. I know for a fact that with each of these characters I will find myself questioning my ability to act at some point because they are so complex.

  1. On the set of my first role I was feeling…

Excited but very prepared. I had to deliver and did not want to drop the ball. I was the only new face in a set of veterans but they were very welcoming and the director was very open in terms of what was to be expected of me. I spent most of my free time getting knowledge from the veterans and it is knowledge I use and pass on to others.

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Interview

Why We Need ‘Hard Cash In The Economy’

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Busi Mabuza, the Chairperson of the Board of the Industrial Development Corporation, on the BRICS summit and why we need to start talking as an African bloc.

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The Heroes Among Us

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Heroes exist in history, on celluloid, in pop culture or in these digital times, at the forefront of technology. These are the mighty who shine on the front pages of newspapers, as the paradigms of victory and virtue. But every day in public life, surrounding us are some of the real stars, the nameless, the faceless we don’t recognize or celebrate. In the pages that follow, we look at some of them, exploring the exemplary work they do, from the war zones to your neighborhood streets. They are not flawless, they are not infallible, but they are heroes.

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Entrepreneurs

The Ghanaian Who Brought HR Corporate America To Ghana

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Ghana is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies this year, according to the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the IMF. Its projected growth in 2018 is between 8.3-8.9%.

The Ghanaian workforce is young, with 57% of the population under the age of 25. This means millions of new graduates enter the workforce each year. One woman who understands the struggle that awaits this unsuspecting group in corporate Ghana is Human Resources (HR) entrepreneur, Rita Kusi.

Kusi is the founder and CEO of Keeping “U” Simply Intact (KUSI) Consulting, a marketing, training and recruiting company based in the United States (US) and in Ghana. She is also the Managing Director of threesixtyGh, a social enterprise company with an online presence showcasing innovative ventures in Ghana and the people behind them.

Born in Bolga, Northern Ghana, Kusi’s family gained access to the US through the US Visa Lottery in the early 80s. The family relocated to the US in 1991 where Kusi remained until 2013. And that is also where she amassed a wealth of experience working in several sectors.

READ MORE: Cracking the Code and Bridging The Gender Gap

After college, Kusi worked a number of temporary jobs, from telemarketing in Atlanta to door-to-door sales in Maryland. She even tried her hands at customer services and working in cafes.

“I think for me having held all these jobs opened my eyes and I realized especially what I wanted to do in corporate America,” says Kusi.

All these experiences came together when she applied for a new role as HR assistant. When she did not hear back from the company regarding her application, Kusi took the initiative and called the hiring manager.

“So my dad told me to call and get feedback and as I called my CV happened to be in front of the hiring manager and he invited me in for the interview. I knew nothing about HR but I was just really looking for a job and I ended up getting that job and it was the longest I ever stayed at any job so that was a sign,” says Kusi.

She had finally found her calling in HR but it was not until a nostalgic visit back home that she would merge all her US experience together, ushering in a new life as an entrepreneur.

There were no real training programs at the time focused on improving the quality of customer service in Ghana. Kusi seized the opportunity to provide quality HR training programs, which she hoped organizations would pay for. And they did. This was the birth of Kusi Consulting.

From training services, the company has morphed its offerings into recruitment services and Kusi is now diversifying into skills-training as well as business process outsourcing, where the company handles the pay roll function for other corporate clients. Her timing couldn’t be more perfect. Hiring the right people is critical for companies to reduce employee attrition and enhance returns from HR. Companies face challenges in accurately perceiving and assessing an employee’s quality attributes prior to hiring that employee. This problem is more pronounced in African economies, which involves novices who do not have prior work records attesting to their raw skills, learning abilities and motivation. And this is where Kusi comes in.

READ MORE: Remembering A Corporate Legend

She believes a specialist HR function is imperative in every organization to ensure maximum output by each employee. However, she has had some difficulty convincing corporate Ghana.

“It has been challenging operating here especially being a female because it is literally a man’s world and in this country, it’s all about who you know… There is that challenge of how do I make myself look older and more respected?” she says.

But ever resilient, Kusi refuses to back down. She hopes to create her own temp agency where she has skilled staff inhouse which she can outsource on demand to other companies. Her newly-formed team is just as passionate about the business and with that focus, she is rebranding her company to be a leader in HR not only in Ghana but across Africa.

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