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14 Feb 2022

I’m a working hairstylist and member of IATSE 798 Makeup & Hair Union. For over twelve years, I have worked in the entertainment industry, where I’ve experienced plenty of adverse reactions to the notion of showing hair textures on-screen that represented women of color.

Black female actors will often request natural styles or textures, only to be told the hired stylist can’t achieve these looks or the producer nixed the idea. For decades, film executives and producers have been offering opinions on hairstyles they think Black women should wear. This notion that Black actresses need to assimilate to a Western idea of what beauty should look like is obsolete. Instead, it’s time to reconceptualize body images of African American women where relevant characteristics like hair and skin tone are given more precedence.

People Like Me

Let me take you back to my youth for a moment. Growing up in the 80s, there were only a few characters on TV with hair like mine. We need to represent Black women in the media today for the now-adults who felt unheard in the past and to change the narrative for the future.

Having access to people that look like you, come from similar backgrounds, and have similar experiences can be a source of advice and inspiration for Black girls and women. For some, seeing a hairstyle on TV may seem arbitrary, but for us, it can change our future.

Working With Yvonne Orji

Seeing people who look like you and experience life like you in the media makes you feel included in society.

In 2020, I styled the talented Yvonne Orji for the 2021 Hulu original movie Vacation Friends. The director, Clay Tarver, not only embraced Yvonne’s naturally texted style but was curious to learn more about my craft. Clay trusted my experience as a Black hairstylist and Black woman to create a look we were all proud of.

I’m excited to see more type 4 hair textures in the media. Emmy Award-Winning shows like ABC’s ‘Blackish’ and HBO’s series ‘Insecure’ are helping pave the way for Black actresses and be a source of representation for Black youth and female viewers.

What’s Next?

Hollywood is slowly (but surely) changing. Personally, I have seen a positive change in the representation of hair textures on African American actors in film and television. I’m looking forward to more celebrities connecting to Black audiences and reiterating the portrayal of “if she can see it, she can be it.”

Representation matters. It matters to the little girls trying to figure out who they are and what they want to become. It matters for the women who deserve to feel self-confident and seen. It matters.



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