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12 Black Actors Who Shared Stories About Black Hair Being Completely Mistreated By Hairstylists While On Set

Halle Berry said the reason she always had a pixie cut in her early career was because her short hair was easier for hairstylists to manage.

1. Monique Coleman revealed that the reason her High School Musical character, Taylor McKessie, was always wearing headbands was to hide how badly the film's stylists did her hair.

Coleman said, “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. But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front.”

Monique wearing a very large headband that covers much of the front section of her hair

Coleman proposed to the hairdressers that they make headbands part of her character and that she felt lucky that Disney was receptive to her feedback.

2. Lamorne Morris shared that while working on a production, the hairstylists told him he had to do his own hair.

“I would have to go to the barbershop at 4, 4:30 a.m. before set to get my hair cut,” he said. “When I would get to set, I would see everyone else in the hair and makeup trailer getting their hair cut. When I asked why I couldn’t get my hair cut at work, it was because — this is what they told me — they didn’t have the budget for my hair.”

3. Meagan Good recounted how her forehead was burned by a hairstylist on a set.

“When [the hairstylist] went to press my hair, he put a metal comb underneath the comb and that comb slipped out and the pressing comb basically burned my forehead and I had about five or six tooth marks on my face,” she said. "It was quite frustrating for someone to say that they knew how to do it and kind of use me as an experiment."

4. Halle Berry was known for her pixie cut at the beginning of her career, but the reason she sported short hair was that she previously had negative experiences with Hollywood hairstylists.

“That’s why I had short hair,” she said. “[Maintaining] it was easy. I think as people of color, especially in the business, we haven’t always had people that know how to manage our hair."

5. Early in her career, Natasha Rothwell often had to buy her own hair supplies to bring on set, and this would almost cost her what she would make for filming that 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 said.

She also said that if a Black actor is No. 1 on the call sheet, they can get a “star request” to choose their own stylist, which is how many Black hairstylists have gotten into the industry and worked enough days to join the union.

6. Gabrielle Union wrote an essay for Glamour where she described the mistreatment of her hair on productions as an up-and-coming actor.

“I was like a guinea pig on set, and I didn’t yet have enough power to request a stylist who I actually wanted to touch my hair,” she wrote. “It got to the point that I would pay to have my hair done before I got to work and pray they didn’t screw it up."

Union said, “I realized very quickly that there were many people in hair and makeup trailers who were totally unqualified to do my hair. Hairstylists used Aqua Net–like hairspray with crazy amounts of alcohol, which caused chunks of my hair to literally come off on a styling tool.”

With her success now, Union has more power to choose who does her hair on set, but she says it’s still difficult to find qualified people. She tweeted about it, saying, “The outright refusal to hire Black and POC folks who are in the union AND the insane and unequal hurdles that are put up for these artists to join the union."

7. Gabourey Sidibe has had to suggest looks for her characters to directors beforehand so that she can come to set with her hair already done.

“If they don’t have the budget to hire a Black hairstylist for me, or won’t, I just get the director to agree that my character should have box braids or Senegalese twist,” she tweeted.

8. Dule Hill stated that he was forced to do his own hair on multiple productions because none of the stylists employed on the sets “knew how to do hair that looked like mine."

9. Asia Jackson revealed how she started styling her own hair after an incident where a stylist let her go on screen with her hair looking sloppy.

“One time I literally rolled out of bed and showed up to set and the hairstylist looked at my hair and said ‘It’s great the way it is!’ and walked away,” she tweeted. “I literally appeared on camera with bed head. Since then, I’ve been styling my own hair.”

10. Aisha Dee played Kat Edison, a main character on The Bold Type, but she revealed that it was years before there was a stylist on the production who knew how to do Black hair.

In an Instagram post, she wrote, “It took three seasons to get someone in the hair department who knew how to work with textured hair. This was impactful on so many levels, and I’m grateful for the women who show me how to embrace and love my hair in a way I never had before. I want to make sure that no one else ever has to walk onto a set and feel as though their hair is a burden. It is not.”

11. Jurnee Smollett-Bell had to ask Margot Robbie, who was producing Birds of Prey, to hire a Black stylist to do her hair while they were filming.

She explained, “In pre-production, when we were creating a look for the hair, for me it was very important to bring a woman of color on in the hair department to create the look for Black Canary. My hair, my texture, the kind of blonde we were going for…and I called her up and I said, ‘Honestly, Margot, it’s different. I need [hairstylist] Nikki Nelms and this is why I need her.’”

Smollett-Bell says that Robbie didn't initially understand her request, but after hearing Smollett-Bell out, she gladly agreed to hire Nelms as her stylist.

12. And lastly, Taraji P. Henson recalled an incident on a magazine shoot where a stylist who didn't know how to do Black hair damaged hers with a root booster.

Henson considered asking for a new stylist, but was afraid she would be considered "difficult." She also said there was another incident where they bought her a cheap wig that they didn't even know how to style. Eventually, Henson just brought in her own stylist and paid for it.