“We’re All In This Together”…Right?

The real reason for Taylor McKessie’s iconic headband look.

22nd September 2006. High School Musical is released, sparking an entire frenzy and little girls dreaming they could sing a duet with dreamy Troy Bolton, Ryan Evans or Chad Danforth and envious of the wardrobes of Gabriella Montez, Sharpay Evans and Taylor McKessie.

So, 15 years later on the anniversary of the film, when Monique Coleman revealed in an
interview that Taylor’s staple piece headbands were purely because the hair and makeup on set were unable and clueless on how to style black hair, the world went mental.

After the crew attempted to style Coleman’s hair before filming began, they had done a poor job. That was when she suggested to put a headband over the front and in turn incorporate them into Taylor’s character and personality.

Coleman said: “We’ve grown a lot in this industry and we’ve grown a lot in representation and we’ve grown a lot in terms of understanding the needs of an African American actress, but the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front.”

Despite this saddening news, Taylor McKessie delivered us some iconic looks with her range of astonishing headbands that colour coordinated with her outfits perfectly.

However, this isn’t the first revelation of poor hair styling for black actresses.Plenty of other
actresses have shared their experiences throughout the decades.

Trina McGee who played Angela Moore on Boy Meets World in the 90s revealed she never had a hairdresser throughout her time on set and the intricate braids and amazing hairstyles her character had were actually done herself during the night before filming.

Another 90s classic Karyn Parsons who played Hilary Banks on the pop culture phenomenon The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air explained how her hair became so fried and began to break away and revealed that she started wearing wigs halfway through the series as her hair could not cope with the treatment anymore. As a black show, this revelation was heart-breaking to hear.

Fast forward past the nineties and noughties to the present with shows such as Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina which show diversity amongst the cast, though still fall victim to the same problems. Tati Gabrielle who plays Prudence Blackwood on the spooky show shared an Instagram video of her creating Prudence’s signature white waves and stated in the caption that she does her own hair. This was followed up by her co-star Jaz Sinclair who plays Rosalind Walker sharing in an interview that she “holds her breath” every time she sits in a hair chair on a new job. She revealed she does her own hair on the set of Sabrina as well.

Riverdale actresses Vanessa Morgan and Ashleigh Murray praised Yvette Nicole Brown from
television show Community after she shared a tweet stating: “Most black actresses come to a
new set with their hair done or bring wigs & clip ins with them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen.”

Morgan replied to the tweet saying: “Isn’t this the truth. This is the sad reality of the industry and a stress of mine on every project… @iamamurray aren’t you happy this is trending?” To which her co-star Murray replied: “YES.”

A lot of black actresses are facing the same problems of not having the same luxuries as their white co-stars when it comes to hair styling. They often do their own hair before coming to set, risk damaging their hair from clueless stylists or, in the case of Kat Graham from The Vampire Diaries, have their natural hair up and wear a wig instead.

Why should they have to put themselves through the anxiety, stress, emotional and physical
turmoil because of lack of knowledge?

Diversity has increased considerably over the last few decades on screen with more ethnic
minorities and LGBT representation on our screens allowing everyone to feel included and see themselves – however this diversity clearly does not run behind the scenes as well.

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