VIS Social Impact secures first-look deal with Thuso Mbedu

Under the first-look agreement, the South African actress has committed to creating, developing, and producing exclusive scripted and documentary content.

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VIS recently signed an inaugural First-Look-Deal with leading South African actress, Thuso Mbedu. The South African model will contribute to VIS Social Impact, the new cause-driven production division of Paramount’s international studio. “We are so proud to welcome Thuso Mbedu to VIS Social Impact, as we develop our roster of global talent to create premium programming for Paramount+,” said Georgia Arnold, Head of VIS Social Impact and Senior Vice President of International Social Responsibility at Paramount. “Having been privileged to work with Thuso on MTV Shuga: Down South, I’ve seen her powerful creative talent first-hand; I’m in no doubt that her skill and expertise will help our studio develop ground-breaking social impact-driven content with worldwide appeal.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Mbedu will create, develop, and produce exclusive scripted and documentary programming focused on VIS Social Impact’s key pillars, equity, climate and health for Paramount+ outside the U.S. As the international studio of Paramount, VIS serves as the company’s content ecosystem by delivering premium content from top talent around the world to Paramount+. The studio launched its cause-driven division, VIS Social Impact, in October 2021 as part of Content for Change, Paramount’s global initiative that aims to counteract racism, bias, stereotypes, and hate on and off-screen through three pillars, one of which is focused on systemically transforming the creative supply chain.

Thuso Mbedu is known as one of the most influential actresses in South Africa, with an increasingly global presence. This September, Mbedu will star as the lead of Sony’s THE WOMAN KING opposite Viola Davis, and also starring John Boyega, Lashana Lynch and Adrienne Warren. Mbedu recently won an Independent Spirit Award, Gotham Award and Hollywood Critics Association Award, and was nominated for a Critics Choice Award, for her starring role as “Cora” in Barry Jenkins' THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, which made her the first South African leading woman of a US television series.

In 2018, Mbedu was nominated for her 2nd International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress for her breakout performance on the series Is’Thunzi, for which she won a SAFTA (South African Film & TV Awards) for Best Actress – TV Drama. for her work on the series. Mbedu was also featured on the cover of the Forbes Africa "Under 30" issue highlighting African leaders.“I am excited about this FLD because of what it means for African creators and artists,” said Mbedu. “As Africans we have so many unique and diverse cultures, histories and experiences that the world needs to see and hear about and, as an African woman, to get an opportunity to tell stories that will uplift, empower and shape new ways of thinking and seeing the world, is absolutely amazing.”

We are so proud to welcome Thuso Mbedu to VIS Social Impact, as we develop our roster of global talent to create premium programming for Paramount+. Having been privileged to work with Thuso on MTV Shuga: Down South, I’ve seen her powerful creative talent first-hand; I’m in no doubt that her skill and expertise will help our studio develop ground-breaking social impact-driven content with worldwide appeal.” Georgia Arnold Head of VIS Social Impact and Senior Vice President of International Social Responsibility at Paramount