Curls and Confidence: The Evolution of my Hair Love Story
I LOVE my curly hair.
Six years ago, I HATED my curly hair.
And before then? No one even knew what my real hair looked like for the longest time.
Let me break it down for you.
I’m from California. Growing up, it was all about fitting in. And since I was one of the only black kids in a lot of my classes in grade school, I was often trying to fit in with my white friends. What did that mean for me? Straightening my hair, A LOT.
I will give my mom some credit. She never put a perm in my hair, even though I begged her for it. No chemical straightening ever. But that hot comb was my BEST. FRIEND.
I got my hair done regularly. And the older I got, the more frequently I got it done. It got to the point where, if my hair wasn’t straight, that was an “off” day for me. Like, I can’t really go anywhere important because my appearance wasn’t “suitable.”
Fast forward to when I was Miss Fullerton during my time in college, I showed up to an event with my hair not straight…And someone on the team looked at me and said, “Your hair is…um…frizzy….Are you going to do anything with it?” It was the only time I had ever ventured to wear my curls as a title holder. It was something I was so nervous about, wondering if it would be okay…me showing up as…me. I still had a full face of makeup on. My outfit was on point. I just had my curls out instead of my hair sleek and straight and I got called out right away. I immediately took care “of the problem.” And just like that, it was reinforced that my curls aren’t suitable for anything deemed important.
Let’s just call a spade a spade and say that perspective is now officially outdated.
Fitting in? BOOOOORING.
Textured hair isn’t suitable for special occasions? GIRL BYE.
Hair the way it grows out of your scalp deemed inappropriate? If it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me.
With all that said, transitioning sucks. If you don’t know what I mean by ‘transitioning’ let me explain: It’s the transition between always manipulating your hair (with heat or chemicals) to not doing any of that anymore. Oftentimes, chopping off all the dead parts of the hair is involved, resulting in really short hair, which obviously alters your entire look.
Brace yourself. Here’s what my big chop looked like:
I know. It was a rough time for me.
This was right around 6 years ago when I decided to PUT THE HOT COMB DOWN. Y’all I was so addicted. Like, I should have been in a Hot Comb Anonymous support group, because even to this day, when my friends get their hair straightened, I get this rush, like—maybe I could just stop by a DryBar and just pop in for an hour to get a blowout. It’s so fast and easy and who REALLY cares? (Which by the way, no body cares. We truly are free to do what we want, which is GREAT.) BUT I know me. If I do it once, that will be game over. You will never see my curls again.
So what changed. What was the switch for me? A couple of things.
1) When I was in Beautiful the Carole King Musical, all the girls in my dressing room were talking about their natural hair process. They talked about this every day, and you know we were there 6 days a week. I was totally left out because I had NOTHING to say. I was like, “This is dumb. I’m going natural.” Yes, I went natural because I had severe FOMO at work. LOL.
2) One of my best friends who I have always looked up to said that when my hair is straight, I looked hella basic. I’d never really thought about that. I considered it. I thought about it. I agreed.
3) I took an on-camera class and the teacher stopped me when it was my time to hop on camera. Here’s how the conversation went:
Her: “STOP. Your personality is doing something weird.
Me: Give it to me. What is it?
Her *extremely hesitant* I think it’s your hair.
Me: What do you mean?
Her: *silence for a bit* Are you wearing a wig?
Her: *no response. She’s so hesitant*
Me: Go on. Tell me what you’re thinking. I promise I won’t sue you lol.
Her: If I was going in between casting you and one other girl and both of you were right for the part, I’d choose the other girl just so I could avoid the conversation of what’s underneath there.”
BAM! EVERY DESIRE TO WEAR WIGS LEFT ME IMMEDIATELY.
And just like that, my life was changed. I thought: it’s TIME to start embracing the hair that’s coming out of my head because a LOT of these women on these commercials are rocking their REAL hair in whatever form it’s in. Not only that, but a lot of Broadway shows are also casting actors for whatever their signature look is. If my signature look is some plastic hair (which is was)…it might be time for me to put some thought into this.
That class was a game changer for me. Beautiful on Broadway was a game changer for me. Moving to New York was a game changer for me.
And now, 6 years later, I am proud of my natural hair. I embrace it in my audition videos. I require texture in my red carpet looks. On my wedding day, I wanted textured hair in my photos. It feels good. It feels fun. It feels like it matches my personality. I feel more myself. And I’ll admit, it’s taken me so long to feel beautiful in my curls, to feel feminine, and attractive without my hair being straight. But we up in here.
I owe a huge thank you to all the women (and men) who came on my podcast that I started during the pandemic called Black Hair in the Big Leagues. Thank you all for letting me pick your brain not just about your career, but about your hair journey, about where your confidence comes from. About your tips and tricks about how you handle your tresses. For the episodes specifically from 2020 and 2021, I was on a MISSION to figure out what everybody was doing to maintain their curls. I was on a mission to find the confidence to wear my own hair out. And every guest that I had on my show and that I currently bring on to my show has inspired me and encouraged me to embrace fully who I am.
I’m still on the journey (it seems to be never ending), but these individuals have been an integral part.
A special thank you to Geo Brian Hennings (@geobrianhmu), Shai Amiel (@shaiamiel), and Sasay (@sasay_allday) who’s hands I trust in my hair other than my own.
And huge shoutout to Innersense Organic Beauty for being my favorite product to wash my hair with. I love trying new products (especially when sent to me for free!!) but Innersense continues to be a staple in my shower caddy that I trust to nourish my hair, and the only company that I reached out to instead of the other way around to collaborate because the products are THAT bomb.
Grateful for the journey, the education, the inspiration, the encouragement, and the realization that my hair is my crown. That my hair –the way it grows out of my head—is statement hair all on its own. The realization that God designed my curls on purpose and with intention. And that instead of my textured hair being a source of shame or something that I should hide, it is indeed my superpower.