The politics of black hair in white spaces have sparked dialogue everywhere from the workplace to Hollywood. While we’re currently fighting the battle of locs being accepted in the corporate world, Hollywood is slowly but surely embracing the kinks, coils and wide spectrum of textures that come on the heads of black stars. It was once expected that a woman should either relax, straighten or weave her natural hair for the stage or screen, but these days, you’re more apt to find the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross or Lupita Nyong'o sporting their natural tresses. Along with those two leading ladies, we’ve compiled a list of 10 other celebrities who have embraced their natural hair both on and off duty.
Nicole Ari Parker
Nicole was inspired to become natural after becoming a mother, and wanting her daughter to embrace her natural beauty. In an interview, Nicole said “I wanted my daughter Sophie to love herself, and hair is a big part of that. So when she saw mommy wearing natural styles she started to embrace the beauty of her own natural hair.”
Photo by Vincent Sandoval
Being the personification of girl power and self confidence, Janelle Monae is one of the leading women in Hollywood who champion the natural hair movement. Though she admits, she wasn’t always so empowered by her natural texture. She once revealed to ESSENCE that “I haven’t always paid much attention to my hair, but as I grew older I found the beauty in it. I’ve been natural for many years now. I’m an ideas type of girl, and being natural allows me to have more versatility with natural hair. Hair is about options and showing diversity.”
Photo by Getty Images
It’s been a little over ten years since India.Arie let the world know that black women are more than their hair, and rallied us all to embrace who we are naturally. Since then, she’s continued to be a champion for women to love their natural selves, from their bodies to their hair. She’s even come to the side of those facing criticism for their hair, having once penned in open letter in response to those who bashed Blue Ivy Carter’s hair, saying, “I think all these people making negative comments would feel the same way if Blue Ivy’s hair were too done. If she had a relaxer, of hair pulled too tight at the edges. Being gentle with a child’s hair is simply appropriate – this goes the same for all children. Come ya’ll Lol [we are] better than this."
Photo by Noam Galai
In addition to her sultry voice, Lalah Hathaway is known for her sleek and colorful locs. While her tresses make up as much of her personality as her love for music, the songstress says her locs aren’t exactly political, but rather, personal. In an interview with ESSENCE, Lalah once said that ““My record label said [wearing locs] was too urban and too ethnic…and people ask me what my hair says about my spirituality, and I say ‘nothing’ because it's just hair.”
Photo by Desiree Navarro
Erykah has always been the soul sista who has embraced her natural truth. Her earthy vibes have been an inspiration to black women everywhere who aspire to be just as comfortable in their skin as Erykah seems to be in hers. She even has shown just how comfortable she is on the topic of embracing the natural, having taken to Instagram to show off her greying hair. While other 44 year women may have booked the next available salon appointment to color their emerging greys, Erykah snapped a selfie and shared it on social media, saying “Body and brain have aged. My consciousness has witnessed this, yet has not aged. This ‘awareness’ is who we are.”
Photo by Rachel Murray
By now, we’ve all seen the powerful and poignant episode of How to Get Away With Murder, where Viola’s character Annalise Keating strips off her makeup and wig in an act of self expression and release. While it was an empowering moment for both her and her character, it’s taken a lot of self love and affirmation for Viola to get to that place. In an interview with Vulture, Viola once opened about her struggle with loving her natural hair after having to cut her hair due to her battle with alopecia, saying “I had a wig that I wore when I worked out. I never showed my natural hair. It was a crutch, not an enhancement. I was so desperate for people to think that I was beautiful. I had to be liberated from that to a certain extent."
Photo by Rich Polk
Kimberly Elise, 50
Kimberly credits her youthful glow to attention to skin care and a clean eating diet.
Photo by Tommaso Boddi
Known for being a free spirit, Solange did the big chop back in 2009 and has never looked back. This eclectic lady had always marched to the beat of her own drum, and has always used her body and art as a means of self expression. In an interview with ESSENCE, Solo revealed “ "I honestly was just tired of the energy surrounding my hair. So when I cut it, I didn't think about what anyone else would think."
Photo by Danielle Venturelli
Jilly from Philly has always embraced her natural ‘do. So much so, that she even graced the October 2012 cover of ESSENCE with short, natural coils. Always being ahead of the curve, Jill has embraced her natural coils long before it was trendy to do so. Once on a movie set, Jill had to wear a wig for the role. She took to Twitter to express her longing for her natural curls back, saying "Up getting ready for work; missing my healthy natural hair sooooo much. Few more months.”
Photo by Ethan Miller
We’re all well aware of how stunning Sanaa Lathan is without makeup. Over summer sixteen, she showed us she’s equally as gorgeous without weave as well. The actress took to Instagram at the start of the summer, declaring “Summer ‘16 is au naturel. No makeup. No weaves.” All summer long, the lovely actress blessed Instagram feeds with flawless pictures of a beautifully bare face and tremendous tresses.
Photo by Lou Rocco
In June 2017, the young actress inspired Instagram followers when she posted a photo of her natural hair, while also addressing a newfound love of her curls.
"Why do we let everyone else tell us what we should look like? How we should dress? How to wear our hair? What we can't do based on our appearance or the color of our skin?," she wrote. "Haven't ever really worn my hair natural but I'm sick of straightening this magic. I'm a black girl and I'm hella proud. And whether you are black, white, brown, yellow, red, green, or purple you should be proud too because you're BEAUTIFUL."