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How Coming 2 America's Semmi Transformed Since The Original

Thirty-three years after the original, Coming 2 America is finally here. After two different COVID-19-related delays pushed back the theatrical release last year, the sequel to Eddie Murphy's classic comedy is streaming on Amazon Video. The sequel brings lots of new faces to the cast while also bringing back many of the old favorites, including Murphy as Prince Akeem, heir to the throne of Zamunda, as well as James Earl-Jones, Shari Headley, and Arsenio Hall as Akeem's long-suffering servant, Semmi.

Last time around, a 21-year-old Akeem bailed on his arranged marriage and headed to Queens, where he looked for love while posing as an international student. He ended up marrying an American girl, Lisa (Headley). But when Coming 2 America begins, Akeem has a new problem: Even though it's 2021, Zamunda's throne can only be inherited by a male heir. That's when a royal witch doctor, Baba, (also played by Hall), tells Akeem that he actually fathered a son the last time he went to America. Akeem sets off once again to Queens to locate the prince's long-lost son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) and groom him to become the next royal heir.

As for Semmi, although he's still Akeem's loyal right-hand man, time has changed him, like it changes most of us.

In Coming to America 2, Semmi is all grown up

It's really more accurate to say that Akeem and Semmi have changed together over the years. Akeem is far from the 21-year-old playboy he was at the start of Coming to America. At the beginning of Coming 2 America, Akeem has spent the last three decades as the heir to the throne of Zamunda. Now he's middle-aged, a little older and wiser, and ready to take the throne.

And Semmi has been with him the whole way. His days of serving as Akeem's errand boy/wingman are mostly behind him. As Arsenio Hall put it in an interview with USA Today, while Semmi is still "the punching bag of Zamunda," now he has a lot more responsibilities, and he gets a lot more respect. As the key advisor to the ruler of Zamunda, Semmi plays a role in actually running the country. Near the end of the film, when Akeem returns to Queens to convince his reluctant son to return home, it's Semmi who's left behind to keep things in order — not an easy task, since the ruler of the neighboring country of Nextdoria, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), is keen on taking over Zamunda by any means necessary. When General Izzi tries a coup to take over Zamunda, Semmi leads the Zamundan military in putting a stop to it.

And then there are the physical changes that happen to everyone as we age. Remembering his classic jacuzzi scene in Coming to America, Hall said, "This time around, at 65, I ain't losing 17 pounds to take off my shirt. At 65, no man should take off his shirt. Even alone. I shower with a T-shirt on."