'Queen Charlotte' star Golda Rosheuvel said she 'cried' after hairstylists made her feel seen. Here are 17 Black celebrities who faced hair discrimination on set.
Black actors have spoken out about the lack of inclusivity on sets, specifically with hairstylists.
"High School Musical" star Monique Coleman said she wore headbands while filming because stylists didn't know how to do her hair.
Meagan Good said an inexperienced hairstylist once burned her forehead with a hot comb.
Black actors in Hollywood have been vocal about the lack of inclusivity on TV and film projects, but in recent years, conversations have shifted to include beauty expectations, as well.
"High School Musical" star Monique Coleman told Insider in January 2021 that her character wore headbands because on-set stylists didn't know how to style Black hair properly. One year later, Taraji P. Henson revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that a stylist with little knowledge of Black hair damaged her tresses with a root booster.
From Gabrielle Union to Halle Bery, here are 17 Black actors who been candid about their experiences.
Golda Rosheuvel, who plays the titular role in Netflix's "Queen Charlotte," said she "cried" and "got emotional" after hairstylists made her feel seen as a person of color for the first time.
Rosheuvel shared details about the touching moment during an interview with "Today" in April.
"It's extraordinary on one hand and very heavy on the other," she said. "I remember my initial chats with hair and makeup and being really really shocked, actually, that they wanted to just tease my own hair out and have that as kind of the front line of the wig."
The attention to detail among the "Queen Charlotte" crew made Rosheuvel realize how Black hair is an afterthought on some sets.
"Those words and that kind of discussion of showing my own natural hair within a character's look had never ever been discussed with me," she said. "So, I got so emotional and I cried because it was such a moment of I'm being seen not only as an actress, as a person of color. But this character is being seen through these ideas, hair and makeup and costume and how the show looks."
"High School Musical" star Monique Coleman said her character wore headbands because the stylists didn't know how to work with Black hair.
Coleman, who played Taylor McKessie, told Insider's Olivia Singh in January 2021 that her character's hair was a byproduct of a non-inclusive hair crew.
"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," Coleman said. "But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front."
Coleman suggested stylists "incorporate headbands into her character" and "just make that a part of who she is."
The "America's Got Talent" production reportedly told Gabrielle Union that her hairstyles were "too Black."
Union appeared as a judge on the NBC competition show for just one season, but her exit in November 2019 caused waves across the industry. According to a report from Variety that same month, Union complained about misconduct and racial discrimination on set before her firing.
One point of contention, per Variety, included "excessive" notes about her appearance and critiques that her hairstyles were "too Black."
At the time, Union didn't directly comment on the report but tweeted a thank you to her fans on Twitter. However, in March of that year, Union agreed with a tweet suggesting TV and film sets need hairstylists who know how to style "ethnic hair."
"The pressure to 'just be happy they picked you & you got a job, don't ask for the SAME things every other actor/model gets on GP...' Listen, if u stay quiet, u WILL have bald spots, hair damage, look NUTS (tho they will tell u its cuuuuuuuuute)," Union wrote.
Union has spoken about hair discrimination several times, including in a 2017 essay with Glamour and a 2020 Harper's Bazaar interview.
Taraji P. Henson opened up about dealing with inexperienced hairstylists on set, adding that she was "tired of biting my damn tongue" over hair discrimination.
During a February 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Henson recalled a magazine shoot where a stylist with little knowledge of Black hair damaged her tresses with a root booster. Henson told THR she considered asking for a new stylist, but "then I would have been difficult, right?"
Henson also described another shoot when a hairstylist bought a "cheap wig" and "didn't even know how to style it."
Henson later paid to bring in her own hairstylist.
"I'm not saying you have to be black to know how to do [that] hair, but you got to know what the hell you're doing," she told THR. "When an actress of color requests a hairstylist, listen to them. They're not being difficult."
Natasha Rothwell, who appeared in "White Lotus" and "Insecure," said she styles her hair before arriving on set because stylists may not know what to do.
Rothwell told THR that she often bought her hair supplies early in her career, noting that her white counterparts didn't have to do the same.
"They can wake up, roll out of bed and don't have to worry about what's in their bag," Rothwell told the outlet in February 2020. "It's a real disservice to actors of color who are effectively doing someone else's job and not getting paid for it."
She added: "There's nothing [more] dehumanizing than sitting in a hair and makeup chair and watching your co-stars go through the works and leave, and you're still there because someone's moving very slowly because they're very scared. It's [you] feeling like a problem to be solved."
"New Girl" star Lamorne Morris said he was forced to style his hair during one project because the production "didn't have the budget."
Morris told The Guardian in May 2021 that he had to wake up early and get his hair styled before arriving on set.
"I would have to go to the barbershop at 4, 4:30 am before set to get my hair cut," Morris 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."
Meagan Good said a hairstylist inexperienced with Black hair burned her with a hot comb.
Good, who stars in the Amazon series "Harlem," shared the story during a May 2021 virtual panel hosted by SAG-AFTRA. The Hollywood Reporter's journalist shared a screenshot on Twitter.
"When he went to press my hair, he put the metal comb underneath the comb and that comb slipped out," Good said. "The pressing comb, basically, burned my forehead, and I had about five to six tooth marks on my face."
She added: "It was quite frustrating for someone to say that they knew how to do it and to not really do it and to kind of use me as an experiment."
Three months later, she elaborated more on her poor experiences with hairstylists who didn't know how to style Black hair.
"For me, being 40-year-old now, it's something that I've dealt with for the past 25 years," Good told US Weekly in August 2021. "Always being in a situation where, to some degree, if the stylist doesn't know how to do my hair, which is more often than not, I'm taking a huge bag with me to set with my pressing comb, particular flat iron, particular products — I can't just use anything."
Halle Berry said she sported her signature pixie during the 1990s because some hairstylists didn't know how to maintain Black hair.
Berry told The Associated Press in October 2019 that she got the cropped cut after having bad experiences on other sets.
"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. Those days are different now — that's when I started."
Tia Mowry, who starred in "Sister Sister" with her twin Tamera Mowry, said she cried after seeing how one hairstylist attempted to style her hair.
In the same October 2019 AP interview, Mowry said it's "mind-blowing" that Black actors are still fighting for inclusivity on set.
"There was one time in particular I was doing this movie and, my God. I was the lead. And after this person did my hair, I cried," Mowry told the outlet. "I was like, 'I cannot go out there looking like this.' I just don't understand why you have to fight to get someone to understand the importance of that."
She added: "When you have someone look at you on television, you want to make sure that you are represented in the correct way. Our hair is really important. So we got to represent, and we need someone who knows how to help us represent."
Trina McGee said a costar referred to her as "Aunt Jemima" while she was getting hair and makeup done on set.
McGee rose to fame playing Angela on "Boy Meets World" from 1997 to 2000 but told Yahoo Entertainment in July 2020 that she faced microaggressions on set.
She wrote on Twitter that Will Friedle, who played Eric Matthews, once called her "Aunt Jemima" while she was getting hair and makeup done, referring to a pancake mix and syrup company that featured a Black woman on its packaging.
McGee told the outlet that she didn't think Friedle understood the gravity of his words.
"I don't think he understood how I had to deal with it," she said. "I didn't have a hairdresser. All those little micro braids you see, I stayed up all night doing them right before I went on national television for myself."
Queen Latifah said she faced ignorance about Black hair from stylists early in her career.
The star, 53, told the AP there needs to be more Black hair stylists hired across the industry.
"It's not because their heart wasn't in the right place — they just didn't have the skill set to do black hair," Queen Latifah said in October 2019. "As African Americans, we have all different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and you got to be able to work with that. We are always in a position to be able to work with what white people do. That's just how it's been, but it has to be reversed."
She added: "It has to be some respect over here and figuring out what to do with our hair. So we just really need to add more people to the industry."
Tiffany Haddish recalls leaving a movie set in tears to find someone who could properly style her hair.
Haddish told The Associated Press in the same interview that the incident happened while filming "Keanu," a 2016 action comedy starring Keanu Reeves, when no one on set knew how to braid cornrows.
"So then I had to go outside of the movie to find people in New Orleans to braid my hair. And I cried about it because it was a lot of extra time, and I could have been resting or learning my lines or just making sure I was on point," Haddish said.
Jurnee Smollett said her "Birds of Prey" costar Margot Robbie helped her advocate for a Black hairstylist on set.
Smollett said during a February 2020 interview with BUILD that she felt it was important to have a stylist who could confidently work with her hair texture.
"In preproduction 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," Smollett told the outlet. "My hair, my texture, the kind of blond we were going for — I called her up and said, 'Honestly, Margot, it's just different.'"
She praised the production crew for being open to her suggestions.
"It wasn't something that they were aware of — the importance of Black women hair and having a woman of color do it," Smollett said. "But they were open and they were able to listen, and when I explained it to them, they said, 'Absolutely, we'll bring her in.'"
Model Olivia Anakwe made headlines after revealing the struggles she experienced at photoshoots and projects.
Anakwe shared her experience in a March 2019 Instagram post that she hoped would bring awareness to the discussion.
"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," she wrote in the caption. "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."
Anakwe described an incident when she arrived backstage to get cornrows: "... 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," Anakwe wrote.
She implored production crews to hire Black stylists or beauticians who know how to style afro-hair.
"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," she added.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II said "100%" of Black actors have faced hair discrimination on TV and film sets.
After Teen Vogue shared a story about Olivia Anakwe calling out the modeling industry on Twitter, Abdul-Mateen retweeted the story and shared his thoughts in March 2019.
"100% of Black Actor/Actress I've spoken to on this topic face the same thing in film and television," he wrote. "Hair Stylists in our industry should have proper training, AND be able to show proof. Too often they begin to 'figure it out' the second we sit in the chair."
Yvette Nicole Brown said she often comes to set with her hair done to avoid looking "crazy on screen."
Brown, who worked on "Drake & Josh" and "Community," wrote in a March 2019 tweet that "Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them."
"It's either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya!" she added.
Tati Gabrielle spoke about styling her own finger waves for "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."
In a January 2021 Instagram post, Gabrielle revealed that she did her hair for the Netflix series and shared a video of her styling her hair in finger waves.
In October 2022, she told People she styled her finger waves for two years before it proved "to be difficult."
"What could take a hairstylist maybe 20 minutes to do my whole head, it took me an hour [to an] hour and a half. I was having to wake up earlier than everybody else to do my own hair. It was just a lot," Gabrielle told People. "I went to the point of being like, 'OK, this isn't fair.'"
She added: "I felt like I should say something so that other people later on don't have to experience this."
She told People that she chose to shave her hair during the second season to "alleviate expectations."
Read the original article on Insider