Actresses Speak Out About Lack Of Hollywood Stylists Who Can Work With Black Hair

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The “texture discrimination” in Hollywood has been a discussion, as Black actresses and models have complained about the lack of stylists who can work with Black hair/natural hair..

Earlier this year, model Olivia Anakwe sparked a discussion on Instagram about on set hair styling; venting that hair stylists at shoots generally are clueless when it comes to working with natural Black hair.

Several Black actors, including Natasha Rothwell, Gabrielle Union, and Yvette Nicole Brown, have shared their own experiences and noted how they often bring their own hair and makeup supplies to set because stylists aren’t prepared for black actors.

“Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair,” wrote Anakwe.

Meanwhile, The AP reports that Tiffany Haddish recalled leaving the set of “Keanu” in tears in search of someone who could properly do her hair.

“So then I had to go outside of the movie to find people in New Orleans to braid my hair. And I cried about it because it was a lot of extra time, and I could have been resting or learning my lines or just making sure I was on point,” she said.

Actress Lorraine Toussaint has also noted the times her hair has been damaged by inexperienced stylists. Tia Mowry-Hardrict says she broke down in tears on set after seeing what was done to her hair, the report states.

“It’s mind-blowing to me that we still have to—meaning black actresses—have to fight to have black hairdressers on set for us. There was one time, in particular, I was doing this movie and, my God, I was the lead. And after this person did my hair, I cried. I was like ‘I cannot like I cannot go out there looking like this,’” said Mowry-Hardrict, star of the Netflix sitcom, “Family Reunion.” I just don’t understand why you have to fight to get someone to understand the importance of that.”

In the 1990s, Halle Berry was known for her short, pixie hairstyle, but the Oscar-winner says her famous locks were the result of previous experiences with Hollywood stylists.

“That’s why I had short hair,” laughed the actress. “(Maintaining) it was easy. I think as people of color, especially in the business, we haven’t always had people that know how to manage our hair. Those days are different now—that’s when I started.”

As the lack of Hollywood stylists able to properly manage Black hair remains a problem, artists are continuing to speak out.

“I can relate to that 100 percent,” said Sierra Capri, the 20-year-old star of the Netflix series “On My Block”.

“We want to look and feel good and we want to feel our best,” she said. “If we feel that we have someone that understands us and understands what we want and what we need, then we’re gonna feel great and we can do what we came to do.”

Queen Latifah also encountered stylists early in her career who were clueless when it came to styling her hair.

“It’s not because their heart wasn’t in the right place—they just didn’t have the skillset to do black hair,” said Latifah. “As African Americans, we have all different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and you got to be able to work with that. We are always in a position to be able to work with what white people do. That’s just how it’s been, but it has to be reversed. It has to be some respect over here and figuring out what to do with our hair. . So we just really need to add more people to the industry.”

Sanaa Lathan says she’s worn wigs to protect her hair.

“I’ve worked in London, I’ve worked all over the world and sometimes you don’t know if you’re gonna have somebody who’s familiar with black hair,” she said.

“When you have someone look at you on television, you want to make sure that you are represented in the correct way,”  said Mowry-Hardrict. “Our hair is really important. So we got to represent, and we need someone who knows how to help us represent.”

Hairstylists must be in a union to land work in films to talk shows. According to the report, “Local 706 is the union for hairstylists in Los Angeles; Local 798 is based in New York. Joining a union requires a license and experience on a production,” The AP writes.

Randy Sayer, the business representative for Local 706, remains hopeful that changes in the industry will take place. “I agree with every woman of color or every actor who says ‘we need more.’ I want to be the person who’s helping us achieve that.”

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