Jodie Turner Smith: I was asked to apologize to a hairstylist who couldn’t do my hair

I seriously cannot stress how beautiful and badass Jodie Turner-Smith is. Jodie is an absolute goddess. Of course having cheekbones that can cut glass helps. The fact that Jodie is willing to take on unconventional roles while breastfeeding is propelling her to icon level. Jodie will be starring as Anne Boleyn in UK Channel 5′s Anne Boleyn miniseries, out June 1st. The fact that Jodie, a dark-skinned Black woman, is playing the role of a historically white British queen has people on Salty Folk island in an uproar. This led to Jodie receiving a lot of racism. Jodie, being the boss that she is, took it in stride by ignoring the haters.

Jodie is front and center again as the star of Glamour UK’s first ever hair issue. Her photos are giving Grace Jones fierceness in goddess locs. In her profile, Jodie talks about the slow shift to representation behind the camera for BIPOC, particularly with hairstylists and makeup teams. Jodie says that she has often been on set where the hair team did not know how to deal with her textured hair. Jodie goes on to say that she was made to apologize to a hairstylist because SHE didn’t know how to do HER hair which is absolutely insane. Below are a few highlights from Glamour UK:

“For the longest time, I just loved to wear my hair very short. People don’t really understand Black women in protective hairstyles [such as braids, locs or weaves created with extension hair to reduce the manipulation of fragile Afro hair and limit breakage]. They’ll say, well, that’s not your hair, so why can’t you just go back to what your hair looks like? Which is another thing I’ve heard that’s really not right. Right now this is my favourite protective style, I just love the locs. I also love twists and braids, and their cultural significance.”

We discuss how her industry is finally waking up to treating Black women’s hair with appropriate respect. “Hair is important to everybody,” she says. “It’s so funny. It’s suddenly a big deal when we Black girls are talking about it, but [it’s important to] everybody. That’s why there’s a whole thing about when you have a bad hair day. Right? Nobody wants that.

“So it’s frustrating as a performer, when you go on set and the people are not qualified to deal with your texture of hair. While we’re in this time where diversity and inclusion have become the buzzwords of the day, it’s important that filmmakers go the whole length of what that means. If you are hiring a diverse and inclusive cast, you must also hire people who know how to deal with their texture of hair.”

But, as Jodie goes on to highlight, for Black women working in the film industry, the path to representation on screen has sadly – and often shockingly – not always been so easy. She too has had her own experiences of texturism, something that comes up during the course of our conversation. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fight about hair and makeup on a job,” Jodie says, with palpable exasperation.

“I did one job where I was actually asked to apologise to the hairstylist because she didn’t know how to do my hair. I was told, ‘It’s very easy for one to gain a reputation for being unfriendly and difficult.’ I just was so floored by that experience. At the time I was obviously not as well-known as I am now. And so I just had to basically eat that sh*t.”

Anne Boleyn had an all-female production team (bar one man) and I ask Jodie how much difference this made to her experience?
“As a woman, it feels different to work with female filmmakers, she says. “There’s an element of being seen and your character being seen and feeling more alive when you work with women, because obviously we pay attention to different things and want to honour the fullness of an experience in a different way.

“I do also enjoy working with men and I’m not limiting myself in that way, but I think it’s important right now that women get to tell our own stories – in the same way I’ve relished the opportunity to work with Black filmmakers, because there’s a certain nuance to the storytelling that I don’t find when I work with white filmmakers. When something’s helmed by female filmmakers… there’s so much power in that.”

[From Glamour UK]

Jodie is one of my favorite up and comers. I love how raw her performances are and she reminds me of Grace Jones, my melanated icon growing up. The fact that Jodie ended up with her teenage crush, Joshua Jackson, in real life (like Jason Mamoa did with Lisa Bonet) makes her goals. Jodie said so many profound things in this profile that it made me love her more. I love how she was the influence behind her character, Anne Boleyn, having a textured long afro for the series. I love how Jodie explained why Black women wear protective styles and how many people don’t understand the significance of that. I love her realness when recounting the unforgettable pain of child birth.

My favorite quote from this profile was when Jodie said she takes self care wherever she can. “I don’t have an answer for how to successfully make it through, but I just reach out to every branch of support that is offered to me because I know that by myself, I don’t have all the answers of how to cope, but I can try to use all the mechanisms to do so.” That is beautiful and powerful because women, especially Black women, often do not take help when it is offered. We literally kill ourselves trying to live up to the strong black woman trope. We don’t have all the answers and often we do not have the strength to bear everything we face in life, but isn’t that what life’s about? To not walk the journey alone, to allow love and support in along the way so that the journey isn’t so hard and lonely?

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28 Responses to “Jodie Turner Smith: I was asked to apologize to a hairstylist who couldn’t do my hair”

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  1. Laalaa says:

    I just LOVE the fact she is with him and nobody mentions that in the article in a way that would define her. She is AH-MAZING

  2. MissMarirose says:

    I have no doubt that Jodie was made to apologize to that incompetent hairstylist because she cried.

    Luvvie Ajayi said it best a few years ago:

  3. hunter says:

    If a white woman cannot portray a half-asian character and a straight person cannot play a trans character, why is it okay for a black woman to portray a white character?

    • Maria says:

      Because whitewashing and white privilege and cisgender privilege have co-opted the majority of stories?
      There arguments that this casting is tokenism which, coming from Black people or other POC I understand although I personally am excited for this portrayal.
      But no, it is not a “well if white/cis people can’t do this why is this ok??” situation.
      Also – all the major historians/specialists of Anne Boleyn have endorsed this casting.

    • lanne says:

      Google it. I’m not teaching today.

      • whateveryousay says:

        What Lanne said.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        my goodness, it’s SO EASY these days to get answers to questions like this…hunter is just trying (and not succeeding) to troll with a question like that.

        I’m reminded of the folks who asked why, since we have Black Entertainment Television, is there not a “White Entertainment Television”. It’s like “have you SEEN television?”

      • Jillian says:

        That question wasn’t in good faith anyway, please do not waste the time

    • Lily P says:

      I as a white individual am not underrepresented as a result of this casting, but the same cannot be said if this scenario was flipped.

      edit to add: ^ what Lanne said.

    • Laalaa says:

      Hello, white privilege, short time no see.

    • Seeker says:

      I was gonna do a whole long answer, but Lanne is right- if you really want to understand the difference, you’ll do some research and not expect others to spoon feed it to you.

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      Because there’s a difference between majorities portraying minorities vs. minorities portraying majorities when there are fewer opportunities for minorities.

    • NCWoman says:

      Well, Hunter, the playing field has never been level–it’s always been stacked in the favor of white actors by virtue of the stories that get produced. It’s about being fair and giving actors like Jodie who have historically been relegated to the sidelines the chance to shine that they deserve. To have opportunities similar to other actresses of her caliber, she should be able to win the roles of “white” characters and not be passed over simply due to her skin color.

    • Green Desert says:

      Really astounded that at this point people still don’t understand this. There are a lot of anti-racism resources out there. Too bad you didn’t at least take that lesson from 2020.

    • Hannah says:

      These are some good resources.

      It’s different for a marginalized person to portray a non-marginalized person because the power relation is so different. No one is being harmed and nothing is being co-opted. Anne Boleyn has been played by a lot of white women already. Whereas Black women have been and still are SEVERELY underrepresented and marginalized in film and TV. This is an opportunity for a talented Black woman to play the role and advance her career. (Not my favorite role since Anne Boleyn has such a tragic and depressing ending.) But it’s hopefully a good move for Jodie Turner-Smith’s career.

  4. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    She’s phenomenal.

  5. Myra says:

    She is such a goddess. Don’t hairstylists do some form of training? Studios also have a responsibility to recruit the right hair and makeup specialists for their diverse casts.

    • CJ says:

      Depends s on what you have been trained in. Traditional schools have no focus on black hair. Typically that undertaking occurs through the personal development of the stylist.
      The term stylist also creates issue. The hair “care” part is often missing when it comes to black hair.
      When I first went natural some ten years ago, there were braiders in plenty and black stylists but there work was limited to weaves wigs and perms and not dealing with our hair in its natural state. The black community has come a long way but the rest of the beauty world has yet to catch up.

      Case in point, my step daughter is mixed and her mother is a stylist… and she only ever straightens her hair. I’ve been the one who had to teach her (and learn myself because our textures are different) how to care for and love her hair as it is. Her mother just straightens it and inev damages it and we start the process all over again

    • Mollie says:

      Hairstylists often specialize. You may be able to blow someone out but not every hairstylist knows how to braid. The studio probably expected the stylist to braid Jodies hair or perform a service outside of their skillet which is on the studio.

  6. Brandy Alexander says:

    I’ve never seen anything with Jodi in it, but Anne Boleyn is one of my favorite historical figures. I’ve read so many books about her. I wonder if there is a way to watch this in the States.

  7. Lady D says:

    Already infuriated reading about the GOAT Simone Biles, and now this ish. Honest to God, don’t understand how black women cope with this a 100 times a day, day in and day out. It’s sickening the amount of strength these women are expected to have.
    She is stunningly beautiful.

  8. josephine says:

    The pics are stunning. I love the blue sky and green plants and gold jewelry and how they highlight her beauty. And her profile is as gorgeous as her face is from the front. She has a truly perfect face.

  9. Beth says:

    Gawd, I love her. It almost isn’t fair to be that gorgeous, that smart, that cool, with an awesome hubs — but she deserves all the raves.

  10. Green Desert says:

    I’m biracial (black/white) with a 3B curl pattern. Growing up in a small Midwestern mostly white town there was no one who could do my hair. I wanted to fit in so I relaxed it for many years (badly, by local hairstylists who had no idea what the f*ck they were doing). Been rocking my natural curls for a long time now. I’ve lived a few different places as an adult and let me tell you – even my curl pattern which is much looser than Jodie’s baffles most stylists. I have to specifically search for curly-hair experts and find one “specially” trained in cutting/styling curly hair.

    I know I have privilege there…it’s harder for black women like Jodie with tighter curls. I sort of know what she feels like but I also know this kind of thing is more difficult for her. Stylists can make you feel like you’ve done something wrong by having the biological curl pattern you have. Like, I’m sorry my hair isn’t straight and “easy.”

    Great Chris Rock documentary from 2009 called Good Hair if anyone is interested in learning more about Black hair.

  11. Lunasf17 says:

    My understanding (at least in the US) is that textured hair care isn’t taught at stylist schools in general and stylists have to seek out specialized training or experience. I don’t really thing it’s the stylist’s fault (maybe they were a jerk since they wanted an apology though about whatever went down), the production company should have found someone who is trained in textured hair. Just scapegoating working stylists when it’s a production/oversight issues doesn’t fit right with me. I’ve heard these stories about black actors on a set with no one who knows how to style their hair floating around for years and the stylists (often working class women) always get blamed when it seems like others in charge are at fault. Stylists often don’t know who they are working on during shoots. Production teams need to hire stylists who know how to do textured hair as well.

  12. Lindy says:

    Everytime I read another interview from Jodie, I’m newly impressed by her talent, her resilience, and her style. Looking forward to watching her as Anne Boleyn!

  13. Vernie says:

    I am so glad this site continues to cover JTS on a regular basis. She is phenomenal. Thank you, Oya!