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Academy Award winner Viola Davis refuses to work with hairstylists who can’t do black hair

(Jordan Strauss)

For years, diversity has plagued the confines of most establishments.

The lack of black hairstylists in the entertainment industry has been an ongoing struggle for some of Hollywood’s biggest names gracing the big and small screen.

But Viola Davis has taken matters into her own hands.

“That has not been my narrative lately in terms of hair because I refuse it. I reject it,” the “How to Get Away with Murder” star said in a recent video interview to EBONY.

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The Oscar, Emmy and Tony award winner said she specifically only hires people who are well-versed in African-American hair and hairstyles.

In March, a viral discussion erupted when actors such as Gabrielle Union, Gabourey Sidibe, Yvette Nicole Brown and Emmy Award-winning talk show host Loni Love responded to model Oliva Anakwe’s Instagram post sharing her frustration over hairstylists not knowing how to properly style her natural hair.

“Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair,” the 22-year-old Nigerian American clotheshorse wrote. “I was asked to get out of an empty chair followed by having hairstylists blatantly turning their backs to me when I would walk up to them, to get my hair done. “

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Anakwe, whose been featured in campaigns for Saint Laurent and represented designers Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs, noted how black hairstylist must know how to do everyone’s hair but asked why the same rules didn’t apply to others.

She mandated: “This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change.”

“I don’t think that people understand our hair...they don’t understand that we’re different, and yet, the same,” Davis said. “What I find is hair is something that a lot of people don’t honor when you do film.”

In 2016, the usually red-carpet ready actress bravely bared her soul on primetime television when she removed her wig, make-up and jewelry for an intense scene of the Shonda Rhimes-created ABC drama. Phoebe Robinson called it “The Single Greatest moment in Black-Women Television History” in an article for “The Cut.”

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Davis, who has worn natural hair styles at glitzy events and in magazine photo shoots, explained that even if Hollywood doesn’t respect black hair, she and her production company, JuVee Production, do — and will continue to do so with the hairstylists they hire.

“I don’t embrace it,” said Davis, who won the 2017 Academy Award for her best supporting actress performance in Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences.” And with my production company — that’s not going to be part of it.”

In 2012, Davis and her husband Julius Tenon launched the Los Angeles-based JuVee Productions, focusing on developing and producing independent films, television, theater and digital content with an emphasis of producing narratives from a diverse range of emerging and established voices.


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