Lights, Camera, Action! But wait, how do I look?
I don’t know anybody who wakes up camera ready, be they white, Hispanic, Asian, African American, or otherwise. At the very least, they all need some facial powder, and a good haircut. But as with everything else, it seems like black folks, particularly women in this case, have to work harder to maintain an appearance that’s acceptable in society. Hair is of particular concern. And while we may be celebrating Black History, the history of our black hair continues to evolve, even during a time when so many women are actually going back to their roots – literally. Nevertheless, whichever side you’re on – permed or natural – hair needs to look good and if doesn’t, you get talked about – badly.
Consider high-profile women with rigorous jobs that have been criticized for their perceived horrible hairstyles: Venus and Serena Williams, Gabrielle Douglas, and of course, most recently and horrifically,veteran sportscaster Pam Oliver, who’s reportedly worth $4 million; and who was dogged so badly on social media for her make-up and challenged wigs and weaves – may they rest in peace; that it distracted us from her doing her job which she performs so well on the sidelines of football fields and sports arenas. Why bring up money? Because home girl from around-the-way hair looks better after running track and she put them tracks in herself, is why. And for the record, all of the aforementioned women have money now. So clearly we’re talking about priorities.
Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of people who need to do better with their hair. It’s less criticism and more highlighting the reality of how being on TV can bite, even when it’s not a reality series. It would take too long to get into the myriad of fashion missteps. Perhaps I’ll save that for another blog. But when it comes to the topic of hair and makeup, and if black women actually have it harder than their counterparts, I asked some of the best in the business to give their professional opinions. Here’s what they had to say:
• Jacque Reid, Tom Joyner Morning Show contributor and host of “New York Live” said, “Hair and make-up IS difficult for black women on TV when we are reporting news/sports or anchoring news. Unlike entertainment hosting and reporting on shows like “E!” Or “Extra”, women in news and sports typically are responsible for our own hair and makeup. It is a luxury to have someone to do your hair and make-up. And most of us, like most of you, are not hair and makeup experts. I can pull together my look, but it does not compare to how I look when I get my face and hair professionally done. Also, we are not Oprah. It is rare for women in our field to have our own personal hair and makeup team. Even if we have access to professionals, they are shared by many people and often they are not proficient in doing hair and makeup for black people, especially if you have natural hair. Lastly, depending on what you are covering, you want to be careful not to come off like a prima donna. You don’t want to walk into a sports locker room and have the guys after the game stand by while you fix your hair and makeup. You will lose major points.”
Now to Pam Oliver, who admittedly does her own hair and makeup and to other black women who may need some help, here’s some advice:
• Kym Lee, celebrity makeup artist and creator of Wink and Pout Makeup, responded to my question: Is it harder for Black women to look good on camera? She says, “It really depends on the TV network and its beauty team. My suggestion to all on-air talent of any nationality is to get lessons from a professional artist and keep a personal makeup bag handy. When all else fails, soft, smokey eyes with lashes and a natural colored lip work for every occasion.”
• Derek J, celebrity hairstylist and host of Bravo’s “Fashion Queens” said, “It’s always harder for a Black woman in any field.” But in terms of advice he says, “Get a consultation with a hair professional and experiment. Let them show you some looks that work for your face. Try them together and then you can do it on your own for on-air and otherwise.”
And here’s some tea: At the time of our interview, Derek’s team was in the process of reaching out to Pam Oliver offering his expert services for a weave makeover! Take it Pam! Girl, we want to see more of you on TV, looking your best!
Finally, here’s what I have to say, Deya Direct style:
• Deya Directive 1: Know your industry. It’s visual, which means you’re branding yourself and your skills.
• Deya Directive 2: Face reality. It’s an ugly fact. People who look good go further as studies have proven. Gone are the days, if they ever existed, that you can just put your head down, do a good job and people will give you credit. Sometimes, depending on your industry, people have to see something they like visually before they pay attention to what you do and have to say.
• Deya Directive 3. Invest in your best.Be great at your job, and hire someone else to help you look good. Nobody is good at everything, which means we all need help with something. In Pam’s case, if that means hiring a personal hair and makeup team to meet you in your hotel at 4 a.m., then get to primping!
In the words of music artist India.Arie: “I Am Not My Hair”, but the fact remains: hair matters. And if we come out in public looking like it doesn’t matter to us, unfortunately it will matter to everyone else who’s looking.
Weigh in! What do you have to say about this topic?
Deya “Direct” Smith is a lead producer on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and host of Girlfriend FM & Beyond the Studio celebrity interviews. She is also the best-selling author of “Touch Yourself, 30 Ways to Live, Love and Let Go!” (www.touchmebooks.com). Deya is a life-changing coach, writer and speaker. If you have a question about life, love or relationships email DeyaDirect@aol.com.