Makho Ndlovu is the upbeat, fresh-faced new host of Essence Magazine’s weekly Youtube show, Essence Now. Her warm, unpretentious interviewing style has seen Makho extract and serve up some of the year’s most piping hot tea from many of our favorite celebrities as well as tackle some of the year’s biggest social issues.

We chatted to Makho about her job, her style icons, and about her greatest moments from 2017.

ShineMyCrown: You recently just posted the Africans Diaspora Awards. How did that go?

Makho Ndlovu: It was, wow! I don’t even know where to start. I’m still soaking in all the Black and African excellence from the awards. It was it was amazing. I co-hosted it with this gentleman called NaMÓ. He’s Nigerian. And the theme for this year was really building unity. So the organizers wanted to make it a point to get someone who is Nigerian and get someone who is Zimbabwean. Not specifically from those countries but really to get people from two diverse places to just represent the fact that even though we’re from different countries or. Some part you know different parts of the Caribbean, or you know different parts of Africa that we’re all united. You know that we’re all one people. So it was just great to see all this Black excellence and all this African excellence. And I was really inspired.

SMC: Your dress was incredible.

MN: Thank you! You know I can’t take any credit for that at all. I’ve been working with this. Stylist named Clarence White. And I just tell him where I’m going. What type of vibe we’re going with. And then he just pulls clothes for me, and he makes it happen. I can’t take credit at all for it. That’s all Clarence.

SMC: How important is it that we have these type of awards shows that we are presenting ourselves?

MN: Extremely important. You know and Pan African culture, generally speaking, were very humble people, right? Like from the time we were little children and brought up were not really told to brag about our accomplishments which sometimes is a detriment to us here when we come to the United States, right? Because it’s hard for us to speak about what we’re good at. Of what we’re talented in, and this what we what we excel in. But events like this are great because it’s not about bragging about what people have achieved in certain fields, but it’s about celebrating them and showing them that it’s possible.

So, for example, like one of the honorees for the night was Ethiopia Habtemariam. But she’s from Ethiopia, and she is the president of Motown Records. And just to see an African woman in that powerful role makes it possible to some other young person that “Oh OK. So, there are opportunities in the music industry outside of just traditionally singing and you know being in front of the scenes that there are jobs behind the scenes.” So these events are really important and not just in entertaining because they honor people in a number of fields, but they are great in the sense that they give people something to aim to but also they celebrate people that are doing the good work. So it just reinforces how important. African people are to you know the community.

SMC: You were born in Zimbabwe.

MN: I was.

SMC: What was life like growing up as a child in Africa compared to childhood in the United States?

MN: Life was great. I always tell people I had a great childhood like I had an amazing childhood. And it was so crazy to me when we moved from Zimbabwe to the United States, and I moved to Brooklyn. And people would ask me like really silly questions like – “So how do you speak English so well?” or ” do you guys wear clothes?” “Do you see lions all around?.” I’m like, “What kind of Africa are y’all looking at because I grew up in suburbia. My grandfather drove me to school. I went to private school. And it was by no means a privileged childhood. It was a middle-class childhood. But my mom was just working really hard in America to provide that childhood for me so much so that I just I didn’t understand what people were asking me. When they would ask me really random and private you know stupid questions about Africa, I’ll be like, “What Africa are you talking about?” So I had a really, really great Childhood. My. Grandparents stepped in and provided for me while my mom was hustling and trying to make a path for us in the United States.

SMC: What some of your favorite countries to travel to?

MN: Gosh! That is a tricky one! I’m from Zimbabwe obviously, right. But. I have a strong identity and tie to South Africa. I love visiting South Africa. And Cape Town has got to be one of my… I think it is definitely my favorite place on earth. I love the vineyards. I’m not even gonna lie. I love my wine. They have some of the best wine in the planet. But more so I just feel at home when I arrive in South Africa and Zimbabwe as well. But I have so many friends in South Africa that the country just feels like my second home. And when I go to them mostly I go to see my grandparents and some of my older relatives that still live there. So it’s not the same it’s more like someone asking – “Where do you love visiting in the United States?” and you’re like “Oh. I love going to New York it’s so vibrant. There’s so much culture. There’s so much there. But my family lives in Arkansas you know.” It’s that sort of thing… If that makes sense. Does that make sense?

SMC: Yes. That makes sense.

MN: Yeah. So South Africa is that to me. And a Cape Town, Durban, Joburg. I just love just all the elements of it.