If Hollywood Is Going To Hire Black Actors – They Also Need To Hire Black Hairstylists

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
group of black women with natural hair

If you were a preteen/teenager in the early 2000s, then you most likely remember watching High School Musical. Which means you probably remember Monique Coleman, who played Gabriella’s best friend, Taylor McKessie. 

Taylor McKessie’s signature hairstyle in all three of the movies was always a headband. For me, watching that movie, I never thought anything of it. You probably didn't either.

But recently, Monique Coleman revealed the real reason why her character was always in a headband: the crew didn’t know how to style Black hair.

"The truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front," Coleman said. The idea of incorporating headbands was her own idea after the crew members were short on time to fix her hair before filming. 

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The worst part is that even fifteen years later, Black actresses are still experiencing these same issues with their hair.

There is a severe lack of Black hair stylists in Hollywood, which leave Black actresses fumbling to try and do their own hair.

If you’re going to hire Black actresses, and take the time to diversify a cast for a movie/tv show, then there is time to seek out Black hairstylists. Why should Black women be forced to sit on set and do their own hair, while their white counterparts are easily attended to. 

It’s not that hard to do Black hair, and it’s also not hard to find people who know how to do Black hair.

An actor's job shouldn’t be having to find their own team of people to do their makeup, their hair, style their wardrobe. Because if you’re hiring a Black woman for any creative shoot, there needs to be conversations about continuing to uphold that diversity in the crew that are behind the cameras.

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It’s also about the importance of Black hair, and what it means to Black women. We treat our hair with respect and love. We regard our hair as our most prized possession, especially when looking at the history of Black hair in America. 

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There has been a lot of progress with diversity in Hollywood over the last few years with films like Black Panther, Queen & Slim, and Moonlight. There have been so many successful movies made by Black people and starring Black people. 

But there is always room for improvement. Especially when it comes to portraying Black women as authentically as possible. 

"We've grown a lot in this industry, and we've grown a lot in representation, and we've grown a lot in terms of understanding the needs of an African American actress," Coleman said in he same interview.

The amount of growth in media has been significant, but the issues of Black actresses finding appropriate hairstylists who know how to properly do Black Hair shouldn’t have to just fall on their shoulders.

It’s white directors, casting agents, and producers who need to step up and speak up to make sure that Black women feel safe and seen when they're in front of the camera — by hiring the right people behind-the-scenes.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.