While there are a number of Black women who never had a relaxer put in their hair as kids, but many of us were given perms in the hopes of making our hair a bit more manageable for our parents. For Amara La Negra, her mother was able to work with her thick strands, but as a child star breaking into entertainment, her natural hair was deemed problematic by others.
In a new interview with Ebro in the Morning, the beauty talked with the hosts about growing up and being a cast member as a child on the popular Spanish language television program, Sábado Gigante. It was a great launch pad for the singer and dancer, but filled with a lot of awkward moments and very little diversity.
“When I was in Sábado Gigante, I was the only Black girl to be on the show because they had this section that was for the kids,” she said. “They had questions and it was entertaining. Even the models they had on the show, they never had a Black model. Even though Don Francisco once offered me the opportunity, it never actually happened. So I was always, like I used to say, the bug in the cup of milk. They would put me right in the middle or right in the back because they didn’t know where to place me so it doesn’t look awkward. So, I was always like here or back there.”
And to make things more awkward, she said she was told that she would need to get a perm because her hair was troublesome for the stylist who did the kids’ hair on set. It was a moment, based on Amara’s mother’s reaction, that let the star know her look was not like everyone else’s on the show. It was just the beginning of having to deal with this reality. But she said she was encouraged by her mother to not let such comments and situations deter her from going after her what she wanted. She would just have to work harder.
“I actually started perming my hair when I was in Sábado Gigante,” she said. “I remember that my mom took me backstage and they were doing my makeup and my hair. And the hairstylist said, ‘You need to do something with her hair because it’s unmanageable. We cant be dealing with this every time she has to come do her hair.’ I remember looking at my mom’s face at that moment and she looked at me and it was that moment that I realized something was different. As a kid I didn’t know what it was. Because as a kid you don’t see the difference. ‘You’re fun, I’m fun, we’re friends.’ But my mom started perming my hair, then I became acceptable. They’re like, ‘You’re ok. You can kind of fit in. Your hair is straight. It’s going to work better now.’ It took that. My mom always told me, ‘You’re going to have to work twice as hard for people to recognize your work.’ I never understood that until years later and it was very true, unfortunately.”
Check out this conversation starting at the 2:00 mark: