Last week, model Olivia Anakwe shared her frustration over hairstylists not knowing how to properly style her hair, and it spawned a larger discussion on social media.
“I was asked to get out of an empty chair followed by having hairstylists blatantly turning their backs to me when I would walk up to them, to get my hair done,” Anakwe said about an experience during Paris Fashion Week. “I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting.”
Providing more details, she added, “After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair. This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change.”
As news of Anakwe’s Instagram post circulated throughout social media, other models and actors came forward with their own experiences.
Aquanman actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen revealed many women of color in Hollywood shared the same sentiment. “100% of Black Actor/Actress I’ve spoken to on this topic face the same thing in film and television,” he wrote. “Hair Stylists in our industry should have proper training, AND be able to show proof. Too often they begin to ‘figure it out’ the second we sit in the chair.”
The Real co-host Loni Love shared the precautions she takes when beginning a new project.
Yvette Nicole Brown revealed that the struggle also extends to makeup artists as well.
Empire’s Gabourey Sidibe revealed how she bargains with film directors in the event that they don’t have someone who knows how to style her hair.
Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell offered advice to productions who cast people of color.
Being Mary Jane star Gabrielle Union highlighted the struggles many artists face when attempting to break into the industry.
Union, who launched her Flawless by Gabrielle Union hair care brand in 2017, spoke with EBONY about her personal experience with her hair texture and Hollywood.
“My soul feels chipped away at, and going back many decades, I was literally burning my hair off to please you, to create some sort of illusion [and] idea of Black femininity for someone who doesn’t want me to win to begin with,” she said.
She also commented on the strides women of color have made and how it’s impacted how Hollywood sees Black hair.
“Now that there are so many more women of color in Hollywood—specifically, so many kinds of Black women from the African diaspora—we are over making the compromise or being forced into hairstyles that we don’t feel are right for the character or right for us personally or our hair health,” Union said.
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Jasmine Washington is a beauty-obsessed journalist by day and a trap music connoisseur by night. A lifelong New Yorker, she got her start as an intern at the now-defunct Juicy Magazine. Jasmine joined the EBONY.com team as a writer, penning daily stories on all things Black culture and entertainment.