South African actress Thuso Mbedu is stylish and we can’t wait to see her look at the Emmy Awards red carpet. The only African 2017 International Award nominee has strong thoughts on what style means to her, writes Cynthia Mukanzi
What determines your style?
My style goes with my mood. When I’m chilling at home, I like to be in shorts and sneakers, but if I feel like wearing heels then I will do that.
There is no particular trend that I follow and that is one reason I’d like to open my own clothing line that would speak to people and embrace all. I would love to work and collaborate with graphic artists and a designer to create street wear.
As a celebrity, do you feel pressure to dress up?
I try not to let society push me to the edge or determine how I live my life. When I am at work and on set, I will dress as the character I’m playing dictates, but that has to be within my standards.
When I leave the set and go back to being Thuso Mbedu, I allow myself to be human and play by my own rules. I do not dress up to please anyone or to appear a certain way to people.
It would take too much energy and I need to stay sane in this tough industry. I have come to learn that I do not need to try so hard. Don’t get me wrong, I like looking good, but I will not break myself for it.
Wow, more people should try that.
The problem is, people worry so much about what others think of them and end up doing things which their conscience doesn’t align with. We tend to compromise so much and only make ourselves uncomfortable to put a smile on someone else’s face. That happens in so many ways including fashion or style. But it is never worth it. Be true to yourself.
How then do you play by your own rules in a fashion sense?
I love trying out new things and playing with different styles from head to toe. If I find something I like, I stick to it. You are in your mid-20s, but can play a teenage role in shows and fit really well because you look so youthful and stunning.
What’s your beauty secret? To be honest, I don’t have a certain beauty routine that I religiously follow, but I take great care of myself, mentally and physically.
When I feel good within, it translates into confidence and ripples throughout all aspects of my individuality. It makes me glow. I also surround myself with genuine people.
You come from an African country with a rich cultural holding. Are there aspects of your culture that you infuse in your personal style?
Oh yes, Mzansi is magical. I stay true to my roots. My culture is inherently a part of me and it does play a big role in my day-to-day life including dressing. Our cultural or traditional attires and accessories are to die for. I infuse their colourfulness in my look, every now and then.
Have you ever suffered a wardrobe malfunction?
I once had an embarrassing incident at an event. I was in an off-the-shoulder dress. I was in the company of a friend who was going the wrong way and as I turned to point her to the right direction, my dress popped.
We still had a great deal to walk on the red carpet. It was quite an experience. I had to let my hair down to cover the damage and be super cautious, even while seated.
Would you go to a high profile function without make-up?
Among other great things, I realised that I am good enough and no amount of make-up adds value to who I am. I still do make-up, but also embrace my natural self and take care of my body. I do not play to the whims of societal expectations, especially when it comes to the so called ‘beauty standards’. I do me because the power is mine.
Are there times you can’t decide what to wear?
It happens to most of us. However, what I don’t enjoy most is packing for a trip. Sometimes it is so daunting to decide what to take or leave behind. So, what can’t you leave behind when travelling? A book and sneakers. I love reading — it takes me places. I am also in love with sneakers.
Celebrity style icon?
Gabriel Union and Kelly Rowland. They are gracefully classy and elegant.
Fashion or style advice?
Be comfortable in your own skin. Do you.