Lena Waithe And Vanessa Williams On What They Want For Black Hair In Hollywood
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

Vanessa Williams has been in the entertainment game for decades. She’s a legend who’s done a lot and seen a lot. But for the first time in her career, she’s seeing a new attitude toward textured hair.

During ESSENCE’s Beauty Carnival, the singer and actress talked to the cast and creators of the film Bad Hair about her hopes for and optimism about Black hair in Hollywood.

“Well, I think we’ve made tremendous strides,” said Williams. “Being in the business from the ’80s till now, [back then] nobody would know what textured hair was and how to deal with it. The fear factor for any kind of textured hair was ridiculous, and it’s slowly been acceptable. And I think the industry is so scared now that I think everything will be accepted. I think the fight is over.”

ESSENCE Entertainment and Talent Director Cori Murray talks with (clockwise from left) Justin Simien, Lena Waithe, Elle Lorraine, Vanessa Williams and Laverne Cox.

She laughed at the tail end of her statement as if to signal that, based on history, her optimism might be premature. But Lena Waithe chimed in to reinforce the idea that there’s progress. And she also shared what she wants for the representation of Black women in Hollywood through hair.

“When I look at television and I see Black women, I love seeing Black women have their natural hair,” said Waithe.

“Now, mind you, it’s a preference, and that’s the thing that I love about [the Bad Hair] movie. It’s [about how] Black women should have the freedom to decide how they want to wear their hair,” Waithe continued. “I’m not trying to speak badly about women who want to process their hair or whatever. But what I do love to see is that all of our hair right now on this panel looks so different. And I think that’s what it should look like. There should be a variety of Black hair on television. And I think that’s what’s so exciting to me when I turn on the TV.”

Waithe, who is the creator of The Chi on Showtime and the creator and executive producer of Boomerang and Twenties on BET, was introduced to most of us through Master of None, back when she had locs. The women on her shows sport a variety of different hair textures and styles, including relaxers, natural hair and even really low cuts.

TOPICS: