With the slowly but surely growing number of leading Black women on television shows, it was only a matter of time before aspects of Black culture were brought to the nation’s attention—even aspects as seemingly simple as Black women’s hair.
In a recent episode of Shonda Rhimes’ newest hit series, “How to Get Away With Murder,” leading lady Viola Davis is seen snatching off her wig and wiping off her makeup after receiving some particularly troubling news.
With tears still glistening on her cheeks, Davis’s character Annalise Keating looks at herself in the mirror as she peels away layer after layer of makeup, false eyelashes and pulls off her wig as she prepares for bed.
In other series, we tend to see Black women lay down with wigs or weave still firmly on their heads and unwrapped by any sort of scarf or bandana.
According to Davis, she wanted to get real about the true bed time routine for Black women.
“The conversation was, ‘Shonda, I want to take my wig off,’ “Davis told Access Hollywood. “You know, I said, ‘I do not want a scene where I’m going to bed at night with my wig on’ – we don’t [do that].”
Davis revealed that other Black actresses contacted her immediately after the episode aired to praise her for stripping away the artificial layers on national television.
“[I heard from] Halle Berry and [‘Sleepy Hollow’ star] Nicole Beharie,” she said. “Halle Berry just said, ‘Girl, I had to send you an e-mail, you’re doing such a great job, I celebrate you.’ She’s always like that by the way. She’s very, very very supportive.”
This isn’t the first time the leading lady made headlines for her hair.
Hollywood hadn’t seen that too often from Black women on the red carpet, but Davis proved that it could be done and it could be done flawlessly.
Black women’s hair and the culture that surrounds it is certainly a new discussion for mainstream media and has already left publications like People Magazine scrambling to delete offensive tweets.
“Olivia’s back to straight hair so you KNOW she means business,” the magazine tweeted during one episode of “Scandal” after Washington’s Olivia Pope switched from a curly do back to her long straight look.
Since the negative perception that a Black woman’s natural hair isn’t professional or looks wild and untamed has plagued the media for years, tweets like the one from People Magazine would have gone unnoticed, or perhaps even celebrated, in the past.
With more leading ladies taking the reigns in hit television series, however, one can only hope that pop culture will work on banishing that negativity surrounding Black woman and their natural hair.