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Afro Archives Episode Six

16 October

What Do You Do With Your Hair For TV and Film Work?

Hair Continuity…Afro Archives Episode Six

I explored the practicalities of working on screen in Afro Archives Episode Six. TV and films are made sometimes involving scenes being shot out of sequence. There are also possibly re-takes over a period of time. A key part of the filming process becomes the issue of continuity. Hair is therefore very important because it needs to look the same as it did on previous takes.

What’s So Special About Afro Hair?

Afro-textured hair requires a different type of hair care, and informed attention to styling. Manipulation with straighteners and blow-dryers damage the hair by harming hair cuticles. Chemical straightening (hair relaxers) physically and chemically change the hair fibre by opening the hair shaft, which makes the hair strand vulnerable to damage not to mention the damage to the scalp, and that relaxers are said to be toxic. The severity of the health risks that chemicals expose us to are still being discovered. Our afro-textured hair has been a grave and living experimentation going beyond our hair to our bodies and general well-being. The seriousness cannot be under-stressed, and there’s lots to still learn and know about hair texture and porosity. Race determines these hair characteristics. 

Relating This To Screen Work

The fundamental issue is that to be protected over longer periods afro-textured hair needs certain types of styles. To promote healthiness styles such as up-dos, braids, twists and dreadlocks are really good. But these styles are not common on our screens and they are not often embraced as images of beauty or even “smart” or “professional” looks. Controlling and having expectations of an actor’s hair without knowledge of afro-hair texture (including aspirations to European hair/styles as a benchmark ideal) becomes a serious issue for working on TV and film when it does not fit with healthy afro hair maintenance. Additionally,  it affects the images portrayed. Seeing positive role models with natural hair in styles that are realistic, and manageable is important for embracing and accepting our hair. Going further still, since these hair characteristics are determined by our race, it is also important for embracing and accepting our identity. Not to mention that it would be good for hairstyle inspiration.

Afro Archives Episode Six

“A lot of casting directors already have a visual of what they want.”

Hairstylists On Set

Hairstylists on set are more used to dealing with European hair. On Afro Archives Episode Six  part two actress Holly McFarlane described her experience of being in hair and make-up as a good one, of finding it exciting to see what the hair artist might do, making it slightly different to what she might do. Contrast this with the actresses with afro-textured hair, who find that the make-artists tend to do nothing with their hair, just pat it down a bit. Actress India Ria Amarteifio puts a call out, she asks that make-up and hair artists on set “step over the boundary and do something else”. When it comes to continuity, it would help.

Afro Archives Episode Six

“If you study things on TV you start to notice that you rarely have an office worker with afro hair.”


Afro Archives Episode Six

“One or two people that I’ve done a job with actually know how to do my hair.”

Next on Afro Archives

Coming up in Afro Archives Episode Seven, we’ll be hearing from the men!

Press play and watch Episode Six for yourself. Missed Episode Five? Catch up via our Afro Archives commentary over on Africa FashionLove Hair Talk.


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