The days of rushing to the TV to behold the glory of a black face on television are thankfully, well and truly over. But the new question on many of our lips is: are we finally settling into a new era of true representations of black women in the media?
The 2019 BAFTAS lended a nod to diversity and representation with nominations for Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo and a win for Letitia Wright. Viola Davis is the seasoned professional we have watched grow from bit parts to leading lady and Oscar winner and the trajectory and impact of her voice in line with her career speaks volumes. The pivotal moment in HTGAWM when her character took off her wig revealing her natural hair beneath resonated with black women the world over.
Davis’ continues to make waves and open up conversations on hair & beauty in her interviews and style choices from her light brown TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro), tousled bob, and straight pixie cut to her 2019 BAFTA elegantly tapered afro.
Cynthia Erivo aka the triple threat: actress, singer, songwriter and all-around wonder woman. Erivo is well known for her now-signature platinum blonde cropped TWA that marries perfectly with her flawless cinnamon brown skin; who says black girls can’t be blonde?!? Having captured a style all of her own she effortlessly shifts this signature to awe-inspiring formations such as her sculpted ‘fro and bejewelled eyebrows for 2018 Met Gala, platinum faux locs, tousled blonde bob and my favorite to date, long purple almost mermaid-like tresses for the 2019 BAFTAS in a nod to her award wining role in The Colour Purple.
Cynthia’s hair, like so many women, represents more than just a hairstyle. It speaks volumes as to who she is, where she is and what she stands for. Having come under fire in the past for going blonde, she stands bold in her choices and wanting to stand out by being blonde is one of them.
Letitia Wright aka the new guard’s well deserved BAFTA 2019 Rising Star win and heartfelt acceptance speech had me reaching for a box of tissues. The importance of Wright being cast in Black Panther, especially in light of the film’s epic success, further fuels the discussion of the normalcy in an unapologetically Afrocentric film. Being used to seeing our non-black starlets rise to fame, it is refreshing and heartening to see a young black starlet enjoy the same spotlight.
Wright’s continued success in the London theatre scene with The Convert is equally of great importance. Written & directed by two black women: Danai Gurira and Ola Ince respectively, it seems that the normality of blackness in all aspects of the media has finally arrived.
The ‘New Normal’ for black women’s hair isn’t tethered to just one style, we can cut it short & dye it blonde like Cynthia, rock a short relaxed pixie cut like Letitia, or Viola’s current elegantly tapered afro. Films are now also showcasing to the world the myriad of hairstyles we as black women can and do wear. We have the choice to do as we please with all aspects of our lives – including our hair.