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Home » How Nathalie Emmanuel Fought Hair Discrimination On Set — Read Interview

How Nathalie Emmanuel Fought Hair Discrimination On Set — Read Interview

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Halle Berry was one of the first people that I felt represented by in cinema, and then she had the short, cute cut. Neeko, who cuts my hair, and I met during Oscars weekend [this year] and I decided to go through with a close crop. So much was caught up in my hair: negative feelings, the feeling of burden, the trauma connected to it, but also the joy, the defiance, the empowerment. I felt like I had to shed it because a lot of cultures believe that your energy and spirit is in your hair. I just wanted to reset. And I’m still rocking my natural texture. It’s just shorter.

I always like to keep [makeup] as natural as possible. American projects tend to want the glamour a bit more, whereas in British things, it’s almost like you’re kind of begging for more blush — like, “Please?”

Generally, our sort of style on British TV and film is very, very minimalist. So I’m somewhere in the middle. I want to look natural, but also just enhance what’s already there and not look like a completely different person.

When it comes to body image, we’ve been fed this narrative where we have to fit this one ideal. I just have to remind myself that I’ve been told a lie. I look in the mirror sometimes if I’m feeling self-conscious about some part of my body and I just tell it, out loud, “I love you. I love you, little roll here. I love you, little scar here. Oh, my God, that’s like a memory. Don’t change. You’re beautiful.” I feel super silly doing it at times, but it does kind of work in a way. It sort of helps hack my brain. It’s empowering to say, “I’m in love with all of this.” — As told to Alaina Demopoulos

Fashion stylist: Cher Coulter. Hair: Nicola Harrowell. Makeup: Marco Antonio. On-set producer: Joseph Beattie.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.


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