Actor Isaiah Mustafa rode onto the scene on his Old Spice horse in a series of fun, offbeat commercials, and we found ourselves simultaneously amused and titillated. The Old Spice Guy was handsome, well-spoken and wildly funny. How could we lose?
When Isaiah appeared last Thursday on “E! News” to discuss his new character on ABC’s “Charlie’s Angels,” host Guiliana Rancic asked the divorced dad what he was seeking in a girlfriend. He explained that his future woman needed to be kind, athletic and have “good hair.”
He told Guiliana that his own hair was too “nappy.” Then Guiliana, who appeared to be rocking lengthy extensions of her own, asked whether this “good hair” had to be real hair. Mustafa insisted yes, for the sake of the hair his future children would inherit.
We contacted the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” for clarification.
ESSENCE.com: Isaiah, your statements truly struck a chord. You seemed to realize that as you immediately got in touch to apologize. How do you feel about those troubling words now?
ISAIAH MUSTAFA: It was an ignorant statement and I am truly sorry. I see how polarizing the topic of hair can be. I irresponsibly used words that carry a negative stigma. I need to be better than that. I never had any intention of alienating, hurting or offending anyone. And I certainly didn’t intend on making anyone feel less empowered.
ESSENCE.com: In the past year Black women have been called ugly by a “Psychology Today” contributor and have been told that we are doomed to be single by mainstream outlets like “Nightline.” Nivea recently featured an ad with a Black man holding his “nappy” head featuring the tagline “Re-civilize Yourself.” What does “good hair” mean to you?
ISAIAH: What is good hair? It can be anything to anyone. Good hair is healthy hair, whatever you perceive that to be. I wasn’t feeling that my hair was at its healthiest during my “E! News” interview and that’s where my comments stemmed from. Not from self-hatred as I read on speculating blogs.
ESSENCE.com: You’re a single man, Isaiah. What kind of woman are you looking for?
ISAIAH: Ideally, I would like a woman who is intelligent and strong enough to handle this single dad and his 11-year-old daughter. That’s the most important quality that I’m looking for.
ESSENCE.com: Your “Charlie’s Angels” on-camera love, Annie Ilonzeh, is a gorgeous woman who wears every style from a her natural Afro to straighter looks and add-on pieces. How was it working with Annie?
ISAIAH: Yes, Annie is a beautiful person with beautiful hair. I’m fortunate to be working with someone as smart and talented as she is. She’s pretty damn tough too!
ESSENCE.com: You seem genuinely apologetic, Isaiah, and we believe in compassion and forgiveness. Many people don’t know that you are a dedicated father with five sisters, a brother and a supportive mother. What is it like raising a daughter?
ISAIAH: Yes, I have five beautiful sisters with various hairdos and I love them with all my heart and soul. Raising a daughter is hard work. There’s no other way to describe it for me. My daughter has me on my toes at all times. I hope that my daughter grows up empowered and doesn’t define herself by the way she looks but by qualities that make her a intelligent, strong and responsible woman.
My mistake and poor choice of words don’t define me. My apology is sincere and I refuse to let anyone tell me how I feel inside. I love my heritage, my race and for damn sure love myself.
Hear the full audio interview and Isaiah’s extended apology at AbiolaTV.com.