Camille Friend’s resume spans back to 1996, when she jump-started her incredible career as an assistant hairstylist on the set of the classic Martin Lawrence and Lynn Whitfield film A Thin Line Between Love and Hate.
The Tempe, Arizona native moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of her dream job, and quickly established herself as a prominent hairstylist in Los Angeles, working with Sebastian International as a platform instructor and color specialist. She also trained with Vidal Sassoon and John Atchinson to learn and master precision haircutting techniques.
The Emmy-nominated hairstylist has positioned herself as one of the best in Hollywood. Having worked on top films such as Dream Girls, Norbit, and The Hangover before entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the lead hairstylist and working across movies such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. So it's fair to say she is responsible for some of the hairstyles of some of our favorite characters.
In 2015, Friend noted that certain skills were lacking in many hairstylists' repertoires and found herself teaching the artistry while on set in the trailer. From there Hair Scholars was born with the mission to provide up-and-coming artists the mentorship, guidance and skills they need to seize film and TV opportunities and achieve excellence. The curriculum offers master classes and mentorship programs focused on specialty skills needed for the film and TV business as well as giving a behind-the-scenes look at the role of the hairstylist/makeup artist on a film set.
With over 20 years in the business, Friend—who is on haircare brand Prose's first-ever Haircare Advisory Board, in which she mentor and provide a path for a new generation of hairstylists to grow their education and create equity in an industry historically lacking representation—is an inspiration to the next generation of hairstylists. Just check out how she transformed Halle Bailey's locs for her Little Mermaid role? Below, we spoke with the celebrity hairstylist about her career journey and some of the looks she created for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
EBONY: Could you give me some insight on your road to becoming a hairstylist?
Camille Friend: I am a third-generation hairstylist, so I feel like hairstyling has always been in my blood. I grew up in Tempe, Arizona, and went to cosmetology school a year after I graduated from high school. I worked in a salon for many years, practicing my skills before the jump to Hollywood.
I think my career has been a bit of luck mixed with a lot of faith and prayer mixed with sheer determination.
What are some of your career-defining moments?
I’ll mention the first three that come to mind. I remember getting the call to department head the film Dream Girls and knowing I didn't have an extensive resume, I felt it was God providing me with that opportunity. The next moment was when I watched Black Panther for the first time. I felt we had done something tremendous and made history. Most recently, watching videos of young girls watching The Little Mermaid trailer and their reactions really brought tears to my eyes. I feel blessed to have contributed to that moment for them.
What is your creative process when creating a hairstyle for a role?
The first time I read a script, I read it as a viewer and learn the story. The second time I read the script that’s when I start thinking about the characters. I start thinking about their social and economic status. I start asking the questions: "What is their backstory, what city are they from, what are their race and cultural makeup? As the hairstylist, how do I create their hair story, and what is going to bring that character to life? "
What the process was for creating styles for Black Panther?
I was creating styles for Black Panther with a certain something I felt came from my ancestors. I make movies because it’s something that’s instinctually inside of me and feeds my soul. When I started working on Black Panther, I thought about creating a new universe and how I would want that world to look if Black people's culture, hair, and all of the expressions of Blackness were brought to the forefront and lived out perfectly; that’s Black Panther, where Black hair reigns supreme.
You went from working on the set of Dream Girls to being in the Marvel family working across multiple films. What have been some of your favorite styles you created?
I don't really have a favorite hairstyle. I will say, though, one of the biggest surprises was the response to Killmonger's (Michael B. Jordan) character look from Black Panther. I have had many men ask me how to achieve this look. I also love seeing children dressing up for Halloween in all of the Black Panther looks.