Black Actors Hair Problem is a major issue in Hollywood. For most actresses, beginning their day on set almost always starts with a team of hair and makeup artists. This process has proven difficult for many black actors, as most unionized stylists are uneducated on how to do black hair. This means that most of the time, these women end up having to style their own hair or come up with their own ways to avoid damaged hair from inexperienced stylists on set.
Many black actresses, including Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell, have told stories of how black actresses often wake up to prep and do their own hair for the set, anticipating that the stylists won’t know how to do it. She says that early in her career, buying her own supplies cost her all of what she was making in a day. “It’s a real disservice to actors of color who are effectively doing someone else’s job and not getting paid for it,” she says. Empire star Taraji P. Henson also reflects on a time where she was given a stylist who was inexperienced with black hair and used a root booster on her pressed hair. She said of the experience “A lot of times, we as Black women have to wear a mask, or swallow how we really feel, or take whatever is given to us.”
There are a few ways that black actresses can come to set with their hair styled to avoid interacting with stylists who are inexperienced with black hair. Actress, Alissa Chapman says that she often styles her natural hair in a puff or bun when coming to set. “Natural hair, especially that 4b/4c texture changes constantly based on temperature, moisture and frankly how it’s feeling…If I’m doing a reshoot of a scene Thursday that I did Monday, the continuity is off, and it’s obvious.” She says that wearing buns and puffs are easy hairstyles that can remain consistent while filming. She also says that wearing wigs is a time saving and consistent route that she likes to take when showing up on sets for roles.
There are also some steps that guild members can take in order to expose themselves to more experience with black hair. Randy Sayer, the Make-Up Artists, and Hair Stylists Guild business rep tell the Hollywood Reporter, that free training is provided every other weekend in makeup and hairstyling techniques to expose guild members to different skin tones and hair types.