Jodie Turner Smith: I was asked to apologize to a hairstylist who couldn’t do my hair

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I seriously cannot stress how beautiful and badass Jodie Turner-Smith is. Jodie is an absolute goddess. Of course having cheekbones that can cut glass helps. The fact that Jodie is willing to take on unconventional roles while breastfeeding is propelling her to icon level. Jodie will be starring as Anne Boleyn in UK Channel 5′s Anne Boleyn miniseries, out June 1st. The fact that Jodie, a dark-skinned Black woman, is playing the role of a historically white British queen has people on Salty Folk island in an uproar. This led to Jodie receiving a lot of racism. Jodie, being the boss that she is, took it in stride by ignoring the haters.

Jodie is front and center again as the star of Glamour UK’s first ever hair issue. Her photos are giving Grace Jones fierceness in goddess locs. In her profile, Jodie talks about the slow shift to representation behind the camera for BIPOC, particularly with hairstylists and makeup teams. Jodie says that she has often been on set where the hair team did not know how to deal with her textured hair. Jodie goes on to say that she was made to apologize to a hairstylist because SHE didn’t know how to do HER hair which is absolutely insane. Below are a few highlights from Glamour UK:

“For the longest time, I just loved to wear my hair very short. People don’t really understand Black women in protective hairstyles [such as braids, locs or weaves created with extension hair to reduce the manipulation of fragile Afro hair and limit breakage]. They’ll say, well, that’s not your hair, so why can’t you just go back to what your hair looks like? Which is another thing I’ve heard that’s really not right. Right now this is my favourite protective style, I just love the locs. I also love twists and braids, and their cultural significance.”

We discuss how her industry is finally waking up to treating Black women’s hair with appropriate respect. “Hair is important to everybody,” she says. “It’s so funny. It’s suddenly a big deal when we Black girls are talking about it, but [it’s important to] everybody. That’s why there’s a whole thing about when you have a bad hair day. Right? Nobody wants that.

“So it’s frustrating as a performer, when you go on set and the people are not qualified to deal with your texture of hair. While we’re in this time where diversity and inclusion have become the buzzwords of the day, it’s important that filmmakers go the whole length of what that means. If you are hiring a diverse and inclusive cast, you must also hire people who know how to deal with their texture of hair.”

But, as Jodie goes on to highlight, for Black women working in the film industry, the path to representation on screen has sadly – and often shockingly – not always been so easy. She too has had her own experiences of texturism, something that comes up during the course of our conversation. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fight about hair and makeup on a job,” Jodie says, with palpable exasperation.

“I did one job where I was actually asked to apologise to the hairstylist because she didn’t know how to do my hair. I was told, ‘It’s very easy for one to gain a reputation for being unfriendly and difficult.’ I just was so floored by that experience. At the time I was obviously not as well-known as I am now. And so I just had to basically eat that sh*t.”

Anne Boleyn had an all-female production team (bar one man) and I ask Jodie how much difference this made to her experience?
“As a woman, it feels different to work with female filmmakers, she says. “There’s an element of being seen and your character being seen and feeling more alive when you work with women, because obviously we pay attention to different things and want to honour the fullness of an experience in a different way.

“I do also enjoy working with men and I’m not limiting myself in that way, but I think it’s important right now that women get to tell our own stories – in the same way I’ve relished the opportunity to work with Black filmmakers, because there’s a certain nuance to the storytelling that I don’t find when I work with white filmmakers. When something’s helmed by female filmmakers… there’s so much power in that.”

[From Glamour UK]

Jodie is one of my favorite up and comers. I love how raw her performances are and she reminds me of Grace Jones, my melanated icon growing up. The fact that Jodie ended up with her teenage crush, Joshua Jackson, in real life (like Jason Mamoa did with Lisa Bonet) makes her goals. Jodie said so many profound things in this profile that it made me love her more. I love how she was the influence behind her character, Anne Boleyn, having a textured long afro for the series. I love how Jodie explained why Black women wear protective styles and how many people don’t understand the significance of that. I love her realness when recounting the unforgettable pain of child birth.

My favorite quote from this profile was when Jodie said she takes self care wherever she can. “I don’t have an answer for how to successfully make it through, but I just reach out to every branch of support that is offered to me because I know that by myself, I don’t have all the answers of how to cope, but I can try to use all the mechanisms to do so.” That is beautiful and powerful because women, especially Black women, often do not take help when it is offered. We literally kill ourselves trying to live up to the strong black woman trope. We don’t have all the answers and often we do not have the strength to bear everything we face in life, but isn’t that what life’s about? To not walk the journey alone, to allow love and support in along the way so that the journey isn’t so hard and lonely?

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