Black Panther Hairstylist On Inspiration Behind Looks: “It Doesn’t Matter What Your Hair Is Like, All Black People Are Beautiful”
When it comes to Black Panther, there’s no shortage of things to discuss, from the impact of the Marvel film on the movie industry as a whole, to the representation of African culture and the exploration of issues affecting the diaspora that are often left unspoken, to the sheer beauty of the cinematography and the cast. And, yes, hair.
Part of the display of the uniqueness of the various tribes that inhabit Wakanda was the intricate styling of hair, which the film’s lead hairstylist Camille Friend told PeopleStyle was absolutely intentional not just in terms of representation but also sending a message.
“I just wanted people to know that it doesn’t matter what your hair is like, all black people are beautiful,” Friend said. “So for me this is one of the high points of my career. I can always look back and say, ‘We did a movie that was really well accepted and we might change the world and people’s perceptions by this movie.’ I think that’s one of the greatest things.”
To that end, Friend explained, “Every hair piece you see in the movie was made by hand. I joke that there is no 1-800-African-Hair [hotline]. I wasn’t something we bought at a store, it was created with our hands, and that’s what makes this movie great, to me.”
Check out the inspiration behind the looks of each of the films’ heroines below:
“Director Ryan Coogler was really into how Letitia was going to look because her character is our technological officer who comes up with the Black Panther’s suits and gadgets,” Friend explained. “She’s very smart, young and hip and she had a lot of costume changes so we wanted to be able to establish different looks for every wardrobe change. We decided to give her individual micro braids that we could move and bend really easily in order to create a lot of different styles. And we touched them up every two weeks to make sure they always looked good on camera.”
“Danai is the head of the Doras, whose heads we shaved every single day because their heads are adorned with temporary tattoos,” Friend shared. “The first day that we had to shave everybody’s heads there were some tears, but Marvel was really up-front with people about what we were going to do and we made sure to hold each woman’s hand and take our time.”
“Nakia is the Black Panther’s love interest but one thing I love about her is she is strong, she’s a fighter,” Friend said. “Throughout the movie she has two looks, one of which I coined the Wakanda knots. It’s basically a natural hair wig that we shampooed and conditioned and section by section we twisted the hair down upon itself to it make it look like a cinnamon roll. Then after it dries, we pull it up.”
“I wanted to work with Angela my whole career, so when I heard she was in it I was like, ‘This is my opportunity!’ She has been in a lot of films; people have seen her in a lot of ways, so I just wanted to give her character something different,” said Friend. “We talked about giving her these beautiful dreadlocks [and] I wanted to make them gray because I did want to show that she was a little older. Angela was totally into it. It’s really an interesting piece because all the dreadlocks are handmade by Louisa Anthony and inserted into the base of the wig. It was a really big process (that took about eight weeks!) but in the end I think the look is so, so stunning. I think it came out really well.”
To see what went into creating the looks for Erik Killmonger, Daniel Kaluuya, and M’Baku, click here.