Celebrities sound off on Twitter about lack of Black hairstylists in Hollywood


There’s a lack of Black hairstylists in Hollywood, and Black celebrities are sounding off after an Instagram post went viral featuring a model who encountered the same issue.

Black celebrities on Twitter are speaking up about their disastrous experiences working with hair and makeup teams. Actresses like Yvette Nicole Brown and Gabrielle Union took to Twitter on Monday after an Instagram post and subsequent Teen Vogue story on the post went viral.

TheTeen Vogue story highlighted the hardships that model Olivia Anakwe outlined in a lengthy caption on Instagram just last week. She shared that her experience as a Black model has led her to sit with hairstylists who either weren’t familiar with Black hair textures and did a poor job on her hair, or straight-up ignored her altogether.

In the post, Anakwe wrote:

"Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair… After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair. This is not okay. This will never be okay."

After Teen Vogue shared the story on Twitter, actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (who plays Manta in Aquaman) responded by saying that the situation in Hollywood is no less different than that in the modeling world.

Yvette Nicole Brown later chimed in on the conversation, responding to a tweet that said Black actors will often have to go off set to get their hair styled beforehand. For Brown, that meant not only taking care of her hair before heading to set, but also making sure she brought her own makeup and had good clothes in her size.

In another tweet, Brown referred to this issue as having to pay a “black tax.” In this context, the term is used to describe additional money that Black people end up paying in their everyday lives to get up to the same level as white people. While one person on Twitter proposed that the extra work expenses should be deducted from taxes, Brown argued that taking those extra steps shouldn’t be necessary in the first place.

Much like there is a push to get diversity on screen, there should also be a push to get diversity behind the screen, especially when it comes to getting stylists who are familiar with Black hair.

Gabrielle Union then chimed in on the conversation, adding an extra layer of complexity to the situation. Union reminded people that, technically, any work done for those actors on the job must be done by union stylists. She also mentioned despite it being a victory that a Black actor could get a role in the first place, it does not erase the other barriers they will encounter along the way.

The solution of course, as Brown tweeted, would be to ensure that there is a balance of diverse talent on and off camera. While studios may be concerned about representation that audiences see, we can’t forget that minority actors should still receive the right amount of attention as any other actor.

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It’s never easy to completely and fully solve these kinds of issues, but when people like Anakwe, Brown and Union speak up to have their voices heard, change is not far to come.