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Opinion: Hollywood Stylists Without Black Hair Experience Leaves An Embarrassing Mark On The Industry

Diversity in styling within Hollywood has been a problem, and USA Today columnist Rasha Ali is calling the disparity out with her own experience. “A stylist once left my Black hair a ‘hot mess’ on set. The embarrassing problem Hollywood needs to address,” said Ali. Learn more about her perspective-changing experiences in the story below.


It was 5 a.m. in Los Angeles and I was walking my half-asleep self to the hair and makeup tent so I could be done up to blend into a 1960s-themed state fair movie scene. I was a background actor, but this was my moment to shine. 

I hopped into the next available stylist’s chair after the previous actor left with her hair bumped up and face beat like she walked out of a 1960s magazine. My hair was in its natural state, curls poppin’ per usual, and my face bare aside from foundation and mascara. Five minutes later, she was done. I walked out of her chair with a horrendous shade of pink lipstick and a couple strands of my curls pulled back and clipped with a bobby pin after the stylist said “we don’t need to do much, your hair is cute!” Spoiler: I looked a hot mess.

That was in 2013. In 2021, things don’t seem to be getting much better, experts say.

On last week’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the comedian devoted a segment of the episode to Black hair discrimination, illustrating how these issues permeate all walks of life, from work to entertainment. “Even in Hollywood, stylists who are both familiar with Black hair and who are in the stylist’s union are rare and actors definitely know when their production has failed to hire one,” Oliver says. 

Gabrielle UnionMonique Coleman, Chris Chalk, Taraji P. Henson, Natasha Rothwell and more Black actors and actresses have spoken up as recently as this year about showing up to work and having to either do their own hair and makeup or having to sit through a stylist who didn’t know what they were doing. 

Despite the abundance of talented Black hair and makeup stylists – and the years of ongoing conversations highlighting numerous instances of discrimination when it comes to Black actors – the issue is still prevalent in Hollywood, experts say.

‘Hollywood should be embarrassed’

Beauty reporter Darian Harvin believes over time, Black actors have found workarounds to the problem so they end up looking presentable on screen. 

Read the rest of this article here on USA Today.

Vanessa Roberson

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