As a stylist in the industry for over two decades, there have been several occasions where I have had talent cry and confide in me because they were on production sets with no qualified hairstylists available to properly do their textured hair.
This is part of the reason why I, Pekela Riley, chose to become the 1st African-American female Ulta Beauty Pro Member, as well as a DEI texture advocate. My core focuses included styling and showcasing beautiful unapologetic texture on women of color and co-creating a texture hairstyling education curriculum.
The lack of textured hairstylists available on set, capable of doing quality and healthy black hairstyles and multicultural hair textures is a significant challenge in the entertainment industry, particularly concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a passionate advocate for these principles within the beauty industry, this issue hits home.
The representation of diverse hair textures in media is vital for authentic storytelling and inclusive representation. However, the limited access granted for hairstylists skilled in working with diverse textures can hinder this representation. It's a multifaceted problem that impacts not only the quality of on-screen representation but also the opportunities available for talented stylists from underrepresented backgrounds.
This is why I am proud to see how Black actors in Hollywood have influenced a new provision for hair and makeup that empowers them to receive the appropriate professional services they deserve. That's what I call Texture Love + Texture Power!
Black Hollywood actors “feel heard” now that SAG-AFTRA has finally addressed their long-overlooked concerns about hair and makeup.
Details into SAG-AFTRA’s recently reached deal with Hollywood studios reveal the new provisions for hair and makeup that will greatly benefit actors with more textured hair who have faced discrimination in the past. As part of the new contract, principal performers or those who have speaking roles will be able to consult with production about their hair and makeup needs ahead of filming, Rolling Stone reports.
If production is unable to meet their requirements, the actor will receive compensation for seeking outside help that will cover a minimum of two hours in the styling chair. Actors and stylists are praising the new provision that addresses industry discrimination that historically underserved and damaged textured hair.
“You can tell the minute somebody touches your head whether they know what to do with it,” Linda Powell, the SAG-AFTRA national executive vice president said.
“All of us have felt, at some point, disrespected in the chair because of a lack of understanding of who we were when we sat down.”
Actress Meagan Good has grown up in the industry. Starring in films like Eve’s Bayou as a child to her current starring role on Amazon Prime’s Harlem, Good has enough experience in the business to know the struggles that come with hair and makeup as a Black actor.
It was after one hairstylist seared her scalp with a hot comb that she learned early on to bring her own hair and makeup kit to set. She also educated other Black actors to do the same.
“You’re on set and everybody else is working, but those moments when you jump out of hair and makeup, you’re now in your trailer rushing, spending 15-20 minutes trying to redo what could have been done right,” she explained.
Now SAG-AFTRA and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), are set to meet with IATSE, which represents hair, makeup, and other entertainment crews, to ensure an increased number of hair stylists and makeup artists who are qualified to work with actors of all races and ethnicities.
Additionally, both parties will invest in training makeup and hair experts on how to work on all hair textures and skin tones.
“There are so many persons of color that have been discriminated against and it seemed like it was just a normal thing that we dealt with and we didn’t always feel heard,” Towanda Underdue, a SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee and board member says. “But now we feel heard.
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