A young, Black female television reporter found one of the most challenging parts of her career to be something she was born with -- her hair.
Brianna Hamblin, a 23-year-old reporter at CBS 19 News in Charlottesville, Virginia, did something many of her colleagues warned her against when she first embarked on her career, reports Yahoo! Lifestyle. She went natural on air.
“At industry events, I was hearing people say, ‘You shouldn’t wear your natural hair,’” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I was surprised by that.”
When she struggled with having to pay for a new wig during the summer, Hamblin finally decided to ask her boss for permission to wear her hair natural in September, and her request was immediately approved, Yahoo reports.
“You might have noticed that I’ve been wearing my #NaturalHairOnAir recently,” Hamblin wrote in a lengthy post on October 23.
“This might not seem like a big deal, but in the news industry it actually is,” she continued, crediting her “amazing news director” for supporting her new on-air look.
“A news director so open to change is rare (from what I hear),” she wrote. “You’re told that your hair has to stay consistent throughout your career which, as a Black woman multimedia journalist, that’s not as easy as it sounds. That means having a style that holds up in rain, snow, heat, humidity, wind, sweating while running around with camera gear, and still looking flawless by the time you get on camera.”
Hamblin began working at the news station in January 2018 and said she struggled to find a hairstyle she could “maintain through all of that.”
Prior to going natural, Hamblin, like many on-air reporters, opted to go with straight hair.
“Straightening my own hair every day or getting chemicals in my hair to be able to do so would damage my hair way too much and eventually look awful,” she wrote on Facebook. “Weaves still require me to keep straightening a part of my hair to blend and my hair started to break off.”
She thought about other options like cutting it all off and wigs, but still encountered challenges.
Finally, Hamblin said she “had to build up the courage to try my natural hair” and the reception has been positive, with coworkers and others encouraging and praising her.
“That being said, there is nothing easy about my natural hair,” she confessed. “I love it, but one unexpected rain during a Live shot and I’m done for.”
Hamblin admitted she’s still figuring out what works best for her, but she wouldn’t have been able to make a decision without trying the natural route.
She credits a Facebook group called Curly Girls On-Air with inspiring her to follow suit, and told Yahoo she was nervous about how viewers would perceive her, especially working in a smaller market.
“But I haven’t received any hate mail. Newsrooms need diversity because the people watching are diverse. We need to redefine what looks ‘professional’ so little girls with natural hair realize it,” she told Yahoo.
“So to any curly haired reporters out there reading this, if you have a news director as great as mine, don’t be afraid to try everything to truly find your look!” she wrote on Facebook, adding, “If you’re at your first market, do it now so you can be completely confident in how you present yourself throughout the rest of your career!”
(Photo: Brianna Hamblin’s Facebook)