Actors call for more black hairstylists in Hollywood

By Sarah Jenkins
BBC News

Published
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image captionActress Gabrielle Union said it was "extremely difficult" for celebrities to bring their own make-up artists and hairstylists on set

Black actors are calling on Hollywood to hire more hairstylists who know how to work with Afro-Caribbean hair.

Stars including Gabrielle Union - who is best known for her role in the movie Bring It On - have been sharing their experiences of turning up to production sets to find the hairstylists are not capable of working with Afro hair.

Union urged fellow actors to speak up if they found themselves in this position, tweeting: "If you stay quiet, you will have bald spots, hair damage, look nuts."

The America's Got Talent judge explained on Twitter that in order to work on Hollywood productions, hairstylists and make-up artists need to be members of a particular union - which she says is "extremely difficult" and "expensive" to join.

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image captionYvette Nicole Brown said she wanted to "pull back the curtain" and reveal the issues black actors face

In a tweet liked more than 16,000 times, actress and TV host Yvette Nicole Brown explained that to avoid issues she often arrives on set with her hair already done, while others will bring their own wigs with them.

She added that there are also issues when it comes to make-up, with many stars taking their own foundation as some make-up artists do not have a shade to match their skin.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Fans have suggested that by taking these steps, black actors are having to pay for a service which other cast members receive for free.

A number of black actors have since called for more diverse make-up artists and hairstylists to be accepted into the union to stop these issues from occurring.

The discussion also struck a chord with London-based make-up artist Dorita Nissen who said there is "no excuse" for a professional not to be able to mix the right foundation shade for any skin tone.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The issue was first highlighted by model Olivia Anakwe who shared on Instagram that she arrived at a fashion show to find "not one person" was able to do her hair.

"After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it," she said.

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This message is to spread awareness & hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills. Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair. 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. 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. I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting so. 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. No matter how small your team is, make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others? It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class. I was ignored, I was forgotten, and I felt that. Unfortunately I’m not alone, black models with afro texture hair continuously face these similar unfair and disheartening circumstances. It’s 2019, it’s time to do better. || #NaturalHair #ModelsofColor #BlackHairCare #HairCare #Message #Hair #Hairstyling #Backstage #BTS #AfroTexturedHair #Afro #POC #Braids #Message #Spreadtheword #Speak #Awareness #Growth #WorkingTogether #BlackGirlMagic #Melanin

A post shared by Olivia Anakwe (@olivia_anakwe) on

Ms Anakwe explained it was the nail stylist who ended up doing her hair for the show.

"This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change," the model wrote on Instagram.

She added that black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone's hair and questioned why the same did not apply to others.

Signing off her post Ms Anakwe said: "I was ignored, I was forgotten... it's 2019, it's time to do better."

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