Black actresses’ naturally curly hair was seen few and far between in the world of television because the sleek and straight look was mostly in. There was almost no representation of Black woman’s natural hair in movies. Besides a few Black exploitation movies with the sexy Pam Grier, actresses’ hair was usually relaxed or straightened hair.
Now with the spotlight on celebrities like the adorably talented Serayah from Empire, who has become known for wearing her natural hair on the show, we now see more naturally crowned beauties on our TV screens.
We caught up with the 22-year-old actress to talk about her experience with her natural hair, the products she uses, and even how her dad got involved with her hair treatment!
BET: Let’s talk hair. You are definitely a part of the curly hair community. How do you maintain such beautiful natural hair?
Serayah: Not overprocessing or, you know, doing too much to my hair. I found that’s how to keep it the healthiest. Use protective styling and no heat as much as possible — things like that.
B: How do you keep your hair healthy when you’re constantly having to change it on set and when performing?
S: Wigs. My hair is just braided underneath. It’s not being touched. I found that is the easiest way.
B: Do you have any hair horror stories?
S: I think that one of my worst days is just a full afro puff, and I was just like, "This was not the look I was going for." All the work I put in this morning and it just chooses what it wants to do.
B: Let’s talk your relationship with your natural hair. What has been your experience?
S: When I was younger, I used to hate it. I wanted my hair to be straight, but I guess now since I got the role on Empire and my hair is curly on there, it kind of made me love it!
The natural hair community was contacting me and I was like, "OK, let me just try to see what I can do, try different styles to like it more."
B: So you are now the brand ambassador for TxturePRO. How does it feel?
S: It feels amazing because I get to talk about a product and not just for a relationship or a check. I really use the product every day! I used the WetBrush and I just thought their brushes were amazing.
They really do just get through textured hair or curly hair so easily — even dry! Growing up I used to use the Conair paddle brush and it would kill my head. Like, I would be crying when my dad would do my hair with that brush.
I think it makes your hair healthier because you are not tearing your hair out while brushing it. I’ve had such a hair transition— it came a long way. My hair was damaged when I first started Empire because they washed it every day, so I had to cut off a big chunk of my hair. [The product] really just helped me in the transitioning phase. I am a living testimony for the curl story with TexturePRO.
B: You mentioned your dad used to brush your hair, what kind of memories do you have about that?
S: I moved in with him when I was young. I got my hair texture from him, so he was kind of used to brushing out hair, but the only difference is he wouldn’t wet it [my hair] enough and it would be dry and I would be screaming! It was horrible! I was like, "No, I’ll just do it myself." That’s when I learned how to do that ponytail and slick it back!
B: Being a young, beautiful, brown millennial in the Hollywood industry, is it hard?
S: As far as it goes with acting, there are selective roles that are specific to young African-American females. I think it is getting better though. I feel as though there are more mixed movies and TV shows now, which I’m thankful for. I feel like there is a lot of change going around, which I am excited for.
B: How do you think your Black beauty helps you in the industry?
S: It definitely helped me because people think I’m like a pioneer. [People are] like, "Oh my God, what’s it like wearing natural hair as a celebrity?’
My hair has been curly all my life, so that’s cool. For me, being Black and wearing my hair in its natural state on TV makes me proud to represent.
B: Do you ever feel forced to conform to beauty standards that don’t fit you?
S: I can’t say I have. I would really love to change my hair but because of the show, if I get asked to do a photo shoot, they are always like, "I want you to wear your curly hair." I really am kind of stuck in that, so I do get excited when I get to do a really sleek look sometimes.
B: What kind of #blackgirlmagic beauty advice do you have for those who admire you?
S: My advice is to know how beautiful it is to be you. Whatever that means, not even just being natural. Even if you love to wear makeup, do it and be fearless in it.
And this is only the beginning of Serayah's evolution. “I am almost there on my curl journey. I have an inch of straight left. I’m almost there!” she tells us.
We can’t wait to continue to follow Serayah’s hair journey and her acting career. She is definitely a #BETBabeToWatch!
(Photo: TxturePRO by Wet Brush)