Black actors urge Hollywood to hire hairstylists who know how to style their hair

'Most black actors get their hair cut or styled outside of set, often at their own expense'

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 12 March 2019 10:36 GMT
(Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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Black actors are imploring Hollywood to hire hairstylists on film and television sets who know how to style their hair.

Several actors have explained on Twitter how they often have to have their hair done externally before they start work, as otherwise a hairstylist with no experience of working with ethnic hair may make them look "crazy on screen".

Malcolm Barrett, best known for starring in television series Timeless, outlined the financial impact this can have on black actors.

"Most black actors get their hair cut or styled outside of set, often at their own expense because Hollywood hairstylists are one size fit all and that 'all' does not include black hair," he tweeted.

"This has been my experience for the last 20 years in the business and it hasn't changed at all."

Community actor Yvette Nicole Brown added it's not just their hair black actors have to frequently concern themselves with, but also their makeup.

"Most black actresses come to a new set with their hair done (me) or bring their wigs and clip-ins with them. It's either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen," Brown tweeted.

"Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya!"

Actor and activist Gabrielle Union, ​best known for her roles in 10 Things I Hate About You and Bring It On, explained that the hairstylists, barbers and makeup artists hired by film and television productions usually have to be a part of a union.

The official union for makeup artists and hairstylists in film, television, on stage and in digital media in the United States and Canada is IATSE Local 706, otherwise known as the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Guild.

Union added that getting hairstylists who are able to style ethnic hair into the union "has NEVER been easy or smooth".

"The pressure to 'just be happy they picked you and you got a job, don't ask for the SAME things every other actor/model gets...'," Union added.

"Listen, if you stay quiet, you WILL have bald spots, hair damage, look NUTS (though they will tell you its cuuuuuuuuute)."

The conversation about the lack of hairstylists for black actors on film and television sets was sparked following similar comments recently made by model Olivia Anakwe.

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While preparing to walk the runway at Paris Fashion Week, Anakwe realised there was no hairstylist around who was able to do her hair.

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

"If I am asked to wear my natural hair to a show, the team should prepare the style just as they practice the look and demo for non-afro hair."

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