Sheinelle Jones' story about wearing her natural hair at work is one that many Black women can probably relate to — the only difference is, she had to do it in front of an audience of millions. The Today show co-host, who appears during the third hour of the broadcast, penned an essay for Today.com describing how quarantine pushed her to embrace her natural hair.
"I have always wanted to try wearing my hair in a natural hairstyle on the show, but I didn’t know how to do it," Jones, 42, said in an essay published on Today.com. "In our business, the demands of having our hair styled every morning can be a bit tough, so it never seemed like I had time to figure it out."
Jones decided that, since she has been shooting the morning show remotely from her home due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no better time to take the leap. With the help of celebrity hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, who works with everyone from Kerry Washington to Yara Shahidi, Jones tried a natural look and filmed herself styling it for a Today segment.
Sturdivant-Drew shows Jones how to twist out her hair the night before her broadcast so she would wake up with a head full of natural curls. "I have to be honest: When I took out the twists Monday morning, I was really nervous," Jones admits.
Turns out, she had nothing to worry about. The results were flawless:
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Trying something new this week with my natural hair ... thanks @takishahair !! 🥂 Our segment airs next Tuesday on @3rdhourtoday —- Trust me I still love my blow dryer ☺️.... but I think it’s time to add some new natural hair looks into rotation. I’m still trying to perfect it! I wrote an essay about why I feel it’s so important ... I put the link in my bio. ✨ Have a good night! @todayshow @3rdhourtoday #naturalhairstyles #twistout #somethingnew
The experiment ended up being far deeper than a simple hair tutorial for the seasoned news anchor.
"I realized, particularly as an African American woman on network news, it’s not something you see often — and it’s definitely a 'step' that is long overdue for me personally," Jones writes. "I felt obligated to call my executive producer before I went on-air — just to let her know that I was a bit nervous — and when we FaceTimed, her eyes lit up. She told me she loved it."
She continues, "I just looked at a picture of myself when I was a little girl. Wearing my natural hair at 42 years old, I see the same girl in the mirror. It would’ve been kind of cool [when I was a little girl] to see someone on the news who had my hair, and I hope I can offer that to little brown girls I may never meet."
(Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)