Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Tabitha Brown and many more Black actresses have had to deal with the horrors of the beauty trailer on set because stylists were not trained on how to do Black hair or makeup. Luckily, Black Beauty Roster, a platform for diverse hair and makeup education, has partnered with WarnerMedia to train professional stylists how to treat Black hair and skin. This partnership aims to increase the diversity of beauty professionals in the media industry as well as improve the ways in which Black characters are styled and costumed for the screen.
BBR Co-founder Simone Tetteh said BBR was inspired by the racial reckoning of summer 2020. While reflecting on the value of Black life and Black talent, she realized one group that needed advocacy were Black beauty professionals.
“I think we’ve all seen the stories and the tweets and heard about these horror stories that happened when there is just a lack of diversity behind the camera. We’re in a really interesting place where for the first time, I think in my lifetime, I’m able to turn on any channel or any streaming service and see someone who looks like me. And as great as that diversity is, we recognize that at same diversity is not in the hair and makeup chair,” said Tetteh.
The partnership with WarnerMedia was a result of their summit held last year. The WarnerMedia team reached out to BBR and they joined them in a panel, learning more how they can be a better ally and advocate.
From WarnerMedia’s Press Release:
“We’ve listened to the needs of our talent and creative communities’ desire to access beauty professionals that will help them continue to create best in class content while delivering an equitable and intentional experience. We acknowledge that not everyone’s the same and the needs of our talent to do their best work is paramount. We are thrilled to partner with BBR, a company that shares our commitment to championing underrepresented artists and inclusive environments to increase across the industry,” says Yvette Urbina, Vice President, Equity + Inclusion, Pipeline and Content, WarnerMedia.
Tetteh said it’s important that Black and brown talent look authentic on screen. One of the biggest factors toward making them look like themselves is hair and makeup. With the amount of makeup and natural hair products available to Black women now, actresses prefer to bring their own products to the trailer. The need for better styling of Black talent isn’t as simple as providing those products on the table if the stylists don’t know how to use them.
Tetteh said the problem is ultimately rooted in education.
“You don’t learn how to work on a 4c hair in cosmetology school. You don’t learn how to work on a mannequin with 4c hair in cosmetology school. It’s simply not taught. That is really why there is such a disconnect,” Tetteh said. “That’s really what a major tenant of BBR is too, is providing education - educational resources for not just beauty talent color, but also white beauty talent too they can feel really confident in their skills and be able to work with any texture of hair that sits in their chair or any skin tone that sits in their chair as well.”
From WarnerMedia’s Press Release
“As we continue to see more diverse talent in front of the camera, we have to ensure we are diversifying behind the camera as well — especially with hair and makeup. We’ve seen and heard of too many on-set hair and makeup horror stories from talent of color and it’s time we change the narrative,” says Simone Tetteh, Black Beauty Roster Co-founder. “We’re thrilled WarnerMedia wants to partner with us to not only diversify the industry but lead the charge by changing it for the better.”
The BBR leadership council is composed of leading hair and makeup professionals in the industry including Sir John, Kim Kimble, Vernon Francois, and Larry Sims.
BBR holds educational resource for brands and companies to help them learn how to be better allies and advocates for their talent of color. Tetteh said the goal is for talent of color to be considered and feel safe in the chair and for beauty professionals to feel competent and equipped with the knowledge and skillset so they can work with anyone.
“It’s crazy to think that, you know, just 10 years ago, people were fighting for diversity in the hair and makeup trailer, like really pushing for it. And now it seems like it’s not as much of a fight as more much of it is like we’re pushing the boulder uphill, but I think we’re getting closer and closer to the top of that mountain,” said Tetteh.