*“Bad Hair” is a horror-comedy written and directed by Justin Simien (“Dear White People”) making its Hulu debut on October 23.
The film is set in 1989 Los Angeles where Anna (Elle Lorraine “Insecure”) – an overlooked assistant at a music video channel- is looking to get her big break in front of the camera. Her dreams come to a screeching halt when her boss leaves the company, and new management takes over. A new executive, ex-model Zora (Vanessa Williams) steals Anna’s ideas for revamping the network, but not before telling her to change up her look if she wants to get ahead.
A trip to an exclusive salon run by mysterious stylist Virgie (Laverne Cox) leaves Anna with a “killer weave” that has a thirst for blood. Inspired by the Korean hair horror genre, the film also stars Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Usher, Kelly Rowland, James Van Der Beek and Jay Pharaoh.
Jill Munroe spoke with the cast about the new film and explored some of their personal thoughts about themes in the film.
Jill: Is it ok to alter yourself in order to get the opportunity to get into the room, like Anna did in the film?
Elle Lorraine: To be honest I’ve done it at times. So, I’m not going to sit here on a high horse and pretend that I’ve never conformed or assimilated to be comfortable in a room. I understand that journey and that need. But, there is not a time that we should feel like we have to. We should be able to present ourselves as we are, in our natural state. And be appreciated for what we bring to the table… no there isn’t a time, but it’s a process and we’re still transforming.
Lena Waithe: For me, I spent so much of my life conforming. When you are a queer person and you know it, but you can’t tell anyone, you’re constantly wearing a mask. And once I moved to Los Angeles in my early twenties, I took the mask off fairly early… and sort of shunned that. But I think that’s because of my experience, and knowing that I was a little different from everyone else, and trying to be like everyone else… I had to learn that lesson quickly and very early, that when you try to hide who you are, you suffer.
Jill: In the film, Anna’s new weave seems to get her the life she has been searching for, was there a moment in your life where hair has been transformative?
Laverne Cox: So many moments, it’s always transformative. I was thinking about the first time I went blonde. I have this really intense relationship with blonde hair. Particularly because I’ve read my bell hooks – she’s an author, black feminist writer – and she’s very critical of black folks and blonde hair, and them sort of embracing white supremacy beauty standards – so I have this very intense relationship with blonde hair. The first time I went blonde, I felt like the whole world sort of looked at me differently. I was excited by that, but also troubled me deeply. It’s just really complicated.