Mngoma, Lee Litumbe from Cameroon and Laurie Frempong from Ghana are part of an international team of influencers chosen by hair brand Mizani, alongside others from the US and United Kingdom, to “raise the bar of the ethnic hair community”.
Mngoma, 26, said she didn’t expect to be chosen for the campaign as she is not a model but a medical doctor.
On Friday, The Star went behind the scenes of the international photo shoot to see Mngoma in action.
Erica Roberson, global vice-president for Mizani, and Nosizwe Hode, sub-Saharan African marketing manager. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha.
She said: “To be part of this campaign is just incredible. I had six different looks and I felt like six different women in one day. It was extremely glamorous for me and I was so excited to be a part of it.”
She told The Star that she may be a doctor but she always finds time to explore her creative side.
“It really just started small, by having photo shoots. I wouldn’t call myself a model but more of a digital entrepreneur. It’s unreal. Speaking to my younger self I would tell her that it’s okay to be who you are,” she said.
Mngoma, sister to musician Nandi Madida, said she had received support from her family from an early age regarding keeping her hair natural.
“I’ve been natural for a long time, since I was 13. I went natural when it wasn’t really popular to grow natural and we didn’t have exposure to products such as Mizani back then,” she said.
“Life has been so beautiful. You grow up as an insecure young girl, thinking you are weird and different and not believing in yourself, and then you grow up to find that the things you found weird are the things that end up being celebrated,” she said.
Litumbe told The Star that she was just a travel blogger who was fortunate to be approached by an international brand.
“My mission and goal is to help people see Africa in an aspirational way and basically tricking them to be educated in the different ways to explore Africa. I have just started working with Mizani and they reached out to me. They were familiar with my work online and reached out to see if I would partner with them on this launch,” said Litumbe.
Lee Litumbe. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha.
Another South African influencer who has been part of Mizani as an ambassador was local presenter and actress Ayanda Thabethe.
Global vice-president for Mizani Erica Roberson said it was important to use African models and stylists as the forefront of the campaign.
“Our intention for the photo shoot is that one of the insights we have on women in Africa is that they change their look often throughout the year. We know that your looks change six times within a year, and with our advertising we are using six different looks,” said Roberson.
“What we like to do is select women who don’t just have a beautiful face. They must be very empowering too,” she said.