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Khanyi Mbau is a force to be reckoned with in Netflix’s new reality show Young, Famous & African

SA’s media darling joins an all-star Pan-African cast in Netflix’s hit new reality series, Young, Famous & Africa (YFA)

Khanyi Mbau is no stranger to the spotlight. The multi-talented South African actress, TV host and media personality has starred in numerous successful film and TV projects. That includes the wildly successful Netflix film Happiness Ever After, released last year as a sequel to Happiness is a Four-letter Word.

Now, the on-screen beauty offers us a glimpse of her life behind the camera by starring in the streaming service’s first-ever Pan-African reality show Young, Famous & African (YFA). The series follows A-list personalities from across the continent navigating life, love, family and careers.

Young, Famous and African. Khanyi Mbau in Young, Famous and African. Image: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix © 2022

With the likes of Nadia Nakai, Nigeria’s Annie Macaulay Idibia, Zarinah Zari ‘the Boss Lady’ Hassan and more making up the cast, Khanyi says her decision to be a part of the project was a no-brainer. “African all-stars in one show?” she says. “This is history taking place. I had to be on it!”

According to co-creator and executive producer Peace Hyde, YFA challenges stereotypical narratives of Africa. Instead, it presents a vibrant, beautiful, glossy and sexy continent – and Khanyi is the right person for the job.

At the same time, she’s excited about the prospect of broadening her presence on the continent. “By being on this show, I hope to expand and grow my brand locally,” she says. “Africa has become the destination, and I’m headed there.”

Young, Famous and African. (L to R) Nadia Nakai, Khanyi Mbau in Young, Famous and African. Image: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix © 2022
Young, Famous and African. (L to R) Khanyi Mbau, Nadia Nakai in Young, Famous and African. Image: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix © 2022

Although Khanyi says although she initially felt awkward having cameras follow her around, she eventually got used to it, and the experience became second nature. “I feel at home in front of the camera,” she muses – which is apparent on the show.

“YFA portrays my youthful and energetic side. I have no qualms about sharing my private life. The question is, are viewers comfortable having access to it?”

On filming with a star-studded cast – an aspirational who’s who of music, media, fashion and Instagram – Khanyi says the dynamic was intense, but she bonded with and learnt from each of them. “Shooting with such big names was often extreme. Being surrounded by so much success is insane but inspiring. It makes you want to push yourself even harder. I connected with everyone, honestly, but Zari and Annie stood out for me as mighty women,” she says.

Aside from navigating her on-screen social circle, Khanyi says she also encountered a few everyday struggles. “Everything was tough, from choosing an outfit for the day to the right car to match my look and a drink at each venue. Being famous is a full-time job, OK!”

Whilst being a celebrity comes with its own set of challenges, according to Khanyi, she still has a long way to go – something she learnt whilst on the show. “You’d be doing yourself a disservice to think you’ve made it. At the top of every mountain is the bottom of the next one. So, keep working!” she advises. But she also recommends acknowledging your achievements. “Reward yourself. The smallest wins contribute to a better you.”

With multiple wins already under her belt, Khanyi shows no signs of slowing down. “Two things to be aware of: global warming and Khanyi Mbau,” she says. “Those are two elements the world needs to accept.”

Catch Khanyi Mbau on Young, Famous & African now streaming on, with new episodes dropping every Friday.

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