September 18, 2021


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The push for inclusion extends to hair, makeup artists in movies, TV shows

6 min read

As Hollywood cameras pledge to feature more black actors, another question arises: what is being done to the support staff around them – and especially to the hair and makeup trailers?

“Bold type” star Ayesha Dey posted a letter on Instagram on July 15 describing her experience as a woman of Hollywood descent – using the moment “to demand a better and more authentic presentation both on the front and back of the camera” – she has haircuts in certain parts of the industry. And joined a group of voices talking about the lack of variety in the makeup department.

D writes – “Cat Edison played in the Freeform series wearing her hair in a curly, curly style, she found someone in the hair department who took three seasons to learn how to work with textured hair.

“I want to make sure that someone else has to walk on a set and their hair doesn’t feel like a burden. Not this. “

D is certainly not the first actor of color to share these feelings. While black actors in particular have been talking about the situation in the hair and makeup department for decades, stars like Nia Long have revealed that if the makeup artist didn’t have her shadow she would just put extra makeup shade in a ziplock bag.

But now that Hollywood has traced the history of systemic racism and embraced the Black Lives Matter movement to find ways to develop diversity across the industry, actors, hairstylists and makeup artists at the center of the problem have become more vocal, with the expectation that someone will eventually listen.

“I think unions need to be held accountable for the amount of diversity they have in hiring. Producers, studios, networks need to have a mandate where the hair and makeup trailer is varied, “Long says.” If you have a black lead, bring a black person to that hair and makeup trailer. “

He added, “There are talented people of all castes who are able to do the job. [But] I don’t know that PTSD wants to walk there to see a white woman looking at my hair while I know I’m going to explain myself to her. And it’s going to turn into something else, if he doesn’t like my tune or he’s trying to tell me how I’m going to do it. “

Unfortunately, this is not so easy.

“Producer [and] Employers are the sole authority in hiring, hiring and terminating, ”said Julie Sokash, president of the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild (IATSE Local 70706).

Actor Ryan Michelle Bath recently responded to a Twitter thread started by Oscar-winning director Matthew A. Cherry, asking how the industry plans to ensure inclusion in the hair and makeup category to increase on-screen representation. Bath shared that she was “once told by the union’s hair stylist that they ‘can’t give her enough for my hair.'” She said in her tweet that she had to straighten her hair professionally every Sunday at her own expense. Working on the project (Bath declined to specify the title of the show).

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Ryan Michelle Bath and Jill Scott star in “First Wife Club”; Bath says the stars had to fight Shoran’s Tracy Oliver for the right hair and makeup.
Carolina Waztasik / BET

When the incident happened in late 2004-05, Bath told Variety that he was working on an event for which there was a clause in his contract that if an actor had black hair, the production would not be “financially or otherwise responsible for your hair,” The performances must come to get it done. “

This is just one example of how Bath has learned to handle Hollywood’s views on her hair, chemically straightening out fielding pressures or booking roles for her natural style swings for knitting or wigs. Bath now wears the natural texture of her hair.

“For me, having natural hair was a work of revolution and denial,” she said. “I don’t want to be responsible for growing up another generation and the only way to be beautiful and sexy is to have long straight hair.”

On set, however, Bath insisted that he “was not in a position where there was no more power than me as a hairstylist.” In her latest series, BET’s “First Wife Club” Bath says that Sharuna’s Tracey Oliver has played a role in the fight to get the right hair and makeup for the stars. Although Bath wore a wig for the show, the experience of working with the hair and makeup team at the beginning of her production was so frustrating that “I would go to my trailer and I would turn my face because I couldn’t look in the mirror because my makeup and hair were so bad.

But when Oliver hired hairstylist Oscar James (whose clients include Tyra Banks, Tiffany Haddish and Vanessa Williams), Bath says there has been dramatic improvement.

Struggles also spread among men in the industry. Variety’s #watching time: Hollywood’s black men Actors Jay Farrow, Chris Chuck, Derek Luke, Algie Smith and Aldis Hodge discuss the team’s acting challenges when you’re not seeing or feeling your best. They also discussed how difficult it is to be a barber in their hair and makeup union, so that they can cut their hair in the designated place the actor was forced to drive near them or at a hotel during the position.

“I would go in my trailer and turn my face because I couldn’t look in the mirror because my makeup and hair were so bad.”
Ryan Michelle Bath 6

“There is a consideration that is not given to black men and women, when it comes to hair and makeup trailers, bringing in black cast members and giving them an environment to improve, to win,” Hodge noted. “And when I ask about it [I say], ‘Why are you protesting? It’s the opposite of what you do for a living.

“The Neighborhood” star Tichina Arnold has also found her own way of doing things with the trailer for hair and makeup, saying that she and her mother decided to chemically straighten hair shortly after starting their careers at the age of 11.

“I used to do a variety of events and events and there was literally no color that was capable of doing my hair,” Arnold said.

“A lot of people didn’t know how to make a little girl with a nappy head in Queens. Now I’m part of a project where people hire me instead of auditioning, it puts me in a better position, because now I like, ‘OK, you want me to do this job, and I need it’ so I’m always looking for people like that. I try to get in touch with someone I’m familiar with. “

Arnold has used such so-called star requests – when celebrities make specific requests for a stylist to do their hair and makeup – to get his personal hairdresser Tash Jennings on board for a special project or event, even though Jennings has no reunion. This does not mean that Jennings is always allowed to work on set and, as a result, is not too close to achieving the amount needed to go to the union.

In order to gain membership in the local 606, hair and makeup artists must have union employment for 60 years of non-union work or 30 days within 12 months, for three years within a five-year period of organized production, low-budget SVOD new media production, Music video or TV commercial. Sokhas further noted that as a labor organization, the local 606 does not keep a record of its members’ race, ethnicity (or ethnicity or ethnicity), country of origin, citizenship status, sexual preferences, religion or similar data, but has made progress internally. The steps point to a recently formed diversity committee to give voice to union members. Sokash said he also encouraged members to take additional skills education courses such as barbering, textured-hair and wig work and natural-hair care.

For many white artisans, such skills can be completely new. Celebrity hair stylist Ted Gibson – who is not a member of the local 606 – as a black artisan, had no luxury of being able to build a career without a complete toolkit.

“What I’m grateful for today is that I’ve been able to create something of a career for myself,” he says. “And I truly believe that how I was able to do this was because I had to cut my hair without having a black hair. And what I mean by that is that I have to do all kinds of hair to stay at a certain level and I definitely don’t need white partners. “

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