How to Style Your Hair for Headshots: For Black Women
As a black woman, I understand that our hair is demonized in the media, the corporate world & education. There's a pressure to alter your hair to conform to standards that are put in place & its difficult to know when you can deviate from these standards without being punished for it.
As someone who looks at headshots for film & television for a living, here are my tips on how to style your hair for headshots as a black woman!
It would be irresponsible to not acknowledge Black Lives Matter, so here are a few things that you need to know first before i jump into the article.
Companies are going to start hiring black people for advertisements once the entertainment industry opens back up. Be wary of these companies but TAKE ADVANTAGE of the money & career advancement this brings. Pay attention to the companies that are doing it for good reason. Trust your gut & educate yourself.
There are going to be a lot more tv shows and films that address coronavirus & BLM when the entertainment industry opens back up. This means more roles. This is good.
While I'm not sure how things will logistically work, shows typically film in a staggered fashion. This is how Chris Hemsworth can be in seemingly 4 million things at once. When shows start up at the same time, there will undoubtedly be conflicts in actors schedules. Actors may have to choose which roles they are willing to work on, which may lead to recasting. This is good for YOU.
I don't want to pretend to have all of the answers, and I'm sure you've seen a lot of BLM content today or whenever you're reading this. So, back to the article.
Confidence is key!
Due to the versatility of our hairstyles, I can't recommend just one hairstyle. Everyone has a different facial structure (etc) and its important to take that into account. Wearing a hairstyle that you are confident in gives you a certain internal light that shines through. It makes you stand out. If you feel comfortable wearing straight hair, wear straight hair. If you like bantu knots, wear bantu knots. If you're a bald woman (like I am under my wigs!), wear your short cut. Your confidence in your hairstyle is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of your headshot.
However...make sure your hair doesn't overpower your face
You can go on Instagram and find many women who have bold hairstyles that work for them. Their confidence in the style makes it work. You CAN wear bold hairstyles if they fit who you are as a person. We have a hair department on hand to alter your hair for a role if its necessary.
If you have a bold hairstyle that doesn't necessarily fit your personality, or a wig with a lot of volume, I would steer away from these options. We need to be able to see your face & if your hairstyle is going to be distracting, stay away from it.
Bald is not a bad thing
I cut my hair in 2017 and it was the best decision I've ever made. I personally wonder whether wearing a wig changes peoples perceptions of me, so often when I need to make a good impression I will put on a 16 inch wig.
If you have a fresh haircut, don't wear a wig. If you aren't good at melting your lace, don't wear a wig. If you're more confident without the wig, don't wear a wig.
Headshots are important, but if you're worried about being typecast as a "strong" black woman (i,e angry) for having a low cut, remember that your acting skills are a larger determining factor for getting the role. If you're auditioning for a "soft ethereal black woman" role and you nail the audition, the hair & makeup department will step in if they feel like your hair is inappropriate,
There are admittedly many things to unpack about roles for black women that I will cover in an article later.
Have different headshots for different roles
Do NOT audition for all roles with the same headshot. As a good rule of thumb for beginners (if you are intermediate or have an agent. please disregard this advice), you should have your "teen", regular & period piece headshot.
Why you need a "teen" headshot
There's a reason why when you watch teen shows everyone seems 29. Typically due to the content, shows and films are not allowed to hire minors. This is why one of the Sprouse twins (I'm not looking up which one it is. You know which one it is) is playing a teen in Riverdale right now.
If you're under the age of 30, theres a higher likelihood that you will book a teen role than an actual teen. This is why you need an age appropriate headshot.
Of course, please use your judgement. You CAN wear makeup for your teen headshot, but it may make you look too old. If you choose to wear makeup, I would keep it natural. If booking teen shows becomes your niche, you can experiment with the makeup looks that you submit, because not all teen shows are the same.
Why you need a period piece headshot
I am defining period piece as any media that depicts a world before the 1900s. Unfortunately for black women, this typically just means slave shows & films. While I advocate for having less slave media, some of these roles are beneficial. Heavy emphasis on SOME.
Only audition for roles that you are comfortable with. If you are adamantly against playing a slave (I get it), you don't need a period piece headshot. If you're okay with playing a slave in a film that documents black history (Harriet (2019)), you should have a period piece headshot.
I'm going to start by saying:
DO NOT WEAR A LONG STRAIGHT WIG FOR A PERIOD PIECE. DO NOT WEAR BOX BRAIDS FOR A PERIOD PIECE.
Just don't do it! DON'T! Help yourself by wearing your natural hair or a curly wig thats brushed out. If you're going to wear your hair naturally, I recommend gelling it down, braiding it or wearing it out. If you are able to, you can also have a headshot where you have finger waves or your hair is pressed.
It's tough to know what to do with your hair in any given situation. I get it. Trust your gut always and remember to wear hairstyles that you're confident in! You got this!
Need a review? Register for a session with me, I will review 10 of your headshots to make sure you're on the right track.
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