Tracee Ellis Ross: 'You Hire Me, You Hire My Hair'


In an essay for Entertainment Weekly, Tracee Ellis Ross talks about the importance of black women on primetime television having the freedom to wear their hair the way it grows out of their heads.

For all the lack of diversity in Hollywood, right now is actually is actually a great time for black women on television, with actresses like Viola Davis, Kerry Washington and Nicole Beharie starring in primetime shows. What’s also notable is that they’ve had the opportunity to ditch the flatiron and wear their natural hair onscreen. Viola Davis delivered one of the most powerful scenes of the year when she removed her wig on an episode of How to Get Away with Murder, as Ross points out:

I think what is important about Viola Davis taking her wig off on How to Get Away With Murder is that it illustrates that there is a mask that women are thought to have to wear. For black women, it can be a more complex mask. Our culture has created a very limited view of what beauty is and can be. I think right now television is one of the places where women are pushing up against that and saying, “You know what? I don’t need to play this game anymore in order to be considered beautiful.”

While it will never not be frustrating that black women wearing there natural hair continues to be treated as some sort of revelation, I’m glad that women like Tracee Ellis Ross and Viola Davis are making a point to let people know: this is real, this is us. You might as well get used to it.

I’m very conscious of how I wear my hair on the show, and yet it’s the way I wear my hair as Tracee. You hire me, you hire my hair and you hire my ass. It’s all coming with me.

Image via Getty.

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