From KwaMashu to Hollywood: Nomzamo Mbatha's fashion evolution

Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

After many months of waiting in anticipation, we can finally watch our national treasure Nomzamo Mbatha in action as Mirembe on the African inspired film Coming 2 America!

The US-based SA actress stars alongside Hollywood legends Eddie Murphy, Leslie Jones and Wesley Snipes.

Fondly known as the "Nubian Princess", Mbatha has become somewhat of an icon not only in the field of acting, but in fashion as well.

Whether she is rocking an all-natural 'fro at the many philanthropic events she attends, or the belle of the ball on the red carpet , Mbatha has truly grown from her days as the girl-next-door on Isibaya.


Since moving to Los Angeles, the actress has served looks that prove thaat she is worth her weight in gold.

Hollywood upcoming royalty (2021)

Since moving to the States, Mbatha has proven that she is worth being seen up there with the best of the best. Her style oozes confidence with a touch of sexy.

With the release of her first big film, Mbatha landed a big one in Coming 2 America!, where the sequel to the iconic Coming to America features a plot set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, where King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) go off on an all-new hilarious adventure to Queens, in New York, to find the king's son.

But before her big break, here is a look at Mbatha's style evolution that has seen her grown from the girl-next-door, to one of Mzansi's favourite exports.

The girl next door (2013)

Mbatha burst onto the scene as a funky hopeful on MTV Base VJ Search. On the show, she was known for her bold copper hair, but when she was asked to audition for a role on Mzansi Magic telenovela Isibaya, she quickly went from sex siren to the girl next door.

The new it-girl (2014)

As her acting roles were piling up, which meant more red carpet appearances and more stamps in her passport, Mbatha adopted the ever-popular African aesthetic, ensuring the rise of the Nubian Princess.

Behold, the Princess of Africa (2015)

Come 2015, and Mbatha had cemented herself as a star,  scoring major deals with the likes of beauty brand, Neutrogena and becoming a regular not only on catwalks, but also top fashion show front-rows. It wasn't long before we would be blessed with bolder fashion choices including the many Khosi Nkosi ensembles that refined what became her signature style. 

Who run the world? Nomzamo (2016)

There was one main constant in 2016 for Mbatha - securing the bag. Style-wise, she took it up a notch with a bit of old school Hollywood glam. But, as usual, Mbatha proved to be a fashion chameleon when she became the face of numerous Puma campaigns, giving her the chance to merge her red carpet flair with a sexy, sporty kick.

Bringing sexy back (2017)

Mbatha often has her finger firmly on the pulse of fashion trends, always finding a way to adopt the biggest ones into her wardrobe. When Crocs, furry sandals and OTT sleeves were among the many trends to cop, Mbatha led the way for fashionistas who were bringing sexy back. Whether she opted for bold, on-trend colours like yellow, or softer palettes like rose gold, Mbatha knew just how to unleash her inner sexy.

Making statements (2018)

While some have questioned her label as an activist, Mbatha always made a point to speak out on social ills. When she didn't take to podiums and social media to voice her stance with the socio-political plight and gender equality, she opted for designers who would allow her to use fashion as a canvass for making a statement. For her graduation get-up, Mbatha wore a gown co-designed by her that helped raise awareness on mental health.

New hair, who dis? (2019)

In late 2019, Mbatha debuted her newest hairstyle which stood out from her usual  looks. Her style also embraced more deconstructed garments with daring silhouettes that accompanied her toned physique. The refreshing new step may have been inspired by fashion from the States where she was filming the sequel for Coming to America.

Less hair, more fashion (2020)

Many of Mbatha's style options have often gone hand-in-hand with her hair. When 2020 came around, she chose to rock less hair and up the ante on her fashion and accessories. With detailed shapes and extravagant pieces, her accessories from earrings to neck pieces elevated muted gowns and skirts, stepping away from the kaleidoscope of African prints.

This article is adaapted from one that was previously published on S Mag.

Additional reporting by Maego Seemela.