South African actress Thuso Mbedu will carry the hopes of the nation when she takes on the 45th International Emmy Awards in New York next week (November 20).
Mbedu is nominated for her role as Winnie on Mzansi Magic's drama series "Is'thunzi" in the Best Performance by an Actress category.
Speaking to HuffPost SA at her send-off ceremony hosted by Jenna Clifford, the 26-year-old said the news of her nomination had finally sunk in.
"I went through a range of emotions when I first got the news. First I was in denial, then I got really excited, then I became emotional thinking about everything I'd gone through to get to this point. What followed was me being overwhelmed by gratitude for the longest time, then I was nervous about what this all means," Mbedu said.
She added: "I'm often asked what the nomination means to me and what my plan of action is and I did not have one because the nomination was not something I was necessarily working towards, but simply came out of nowhere."
Mbedu said she suffered an anxiety attack while filming the rape scene that left South Africans in tears back in September.
"I allowed myself to get so lost in the character that I became the character... I felt so traumatized and so powerless in the moment. I was feeling every single emotion as the character and that translated on screen. Also, I'm grateful to Sdumo Mtshali who's able to treat his co-stars with such grace and care," she said.
She leaves for New York on Tuesday night.
Mbedu said winning an Emmy would mean the world to her.
"The nomination isn't just for me, but for our industry as a whole. It's for all South Africans. Although people say I've already won in their eyes, I feel that the actual win would be a game changer. It would put us on the map internationally as well allow me to hone my craft and get better at what I'm doing," she said.
Want to follow in her footsteps?
"You have to put in the time, the effort and go get your training because there is value in that -- from the way you're treated on set to how you must treat your work as well as how people see your work on the screen, you will learn that and don't take it for granted," Mbedu said.
The awards are taking place at the Hilton Hotel in New York.