AFRO ARCHIVES – A PERFORMERS WORLD – Episode 5

What Do You Do With Your Hair For Theatre Rehearsals?

In the acting world, few hair and make-up professionals know what to do with afro-textured hair.

Natural afro hair shrinks. Lighting and even sweat affects afro-textured hair. We wash afro hair less often, in order to protect it because of the porosity of the hair owing to the hair cuticles and lower level of oil secretion from the scalp. As children growing up, we have hair stories that we can laugh about now, but cried about at the time, and this has affected our hair education and hair choices as adults.

Historically, black women have put chemicals in their hair and on the decision to change our hair to its natural texture, we have to re-learn how to manage it.

An actor in theatre rehearsals, wants to be free. We do not want to think about our hair. As the practicalities are discussed by the actors on what they do in theatre rehearsals with their afro-textured hair, to manage frizz and shrinking, actresses Ann Akin and Martina Laird give a commentary on the lack of knowledge of hair and make-up artists in the acting industry when it comes to afro-textured hair, and darker coloured skin.

“I feel like I have to shrink”, “I have to make it easy for them” are comments from Ann, which I found upsetting to hear. Afro Archives episodes 5 and 6 are about differences. They are about discrimination.

If you have afro-textured hair, there are frustrations only you experience. An industry that is focused on catering for only one sector of society, with European-type hair, to the disadvantage of others, is in my opinion discriminating. 

#AfroArchives, Episode 5 part 2

If you missed the introduction to Afro Archives catch up here. Next episode of #AfroArchives, released on 24th June, “What do you do with your hair for TV/Film work?” – let’s keep chatting hair.

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Photography (C) 2015 Robbie Spotswood

About Ayesha Casely-Hayford

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