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Black Panther’s Lead Hairstylist Talks the Symbolism and Power Behind the Film’s Natural Styles

There’s power in hair. Black Panther‘s lead beautician Camille Friend made it her mission to create an authentic and captivating depiction of African and Black American beauty.


Angela Bassett in 'Wakanda Forever.' Disney/Marvel Studios
Angela Bassett in 'Wakanda Forever.' Disney/Marvel Studios

From Angela Bassett‘s changing crown and Lupita Nyong’o‘s new dreadlocks to Letitia Wright‘s braids, the film’s sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — which hit theaters on Friday, November 11 — is filled with symbolic hair images that took a lot of research, dedication and respect.


First and foremost, Friend wanted to pay homage.


We took inspiration from the Zulu tribe, the Masai tribe and the Senegalese Warriors. I always like to start with the traditional because that’s the basis. That’s where everything comes from.”

Secondly, Friend worked to highlight the versatility of Black hair. “The greatest thing about our hair is that you can do anything. I always say wear your hair however you want. You want to wear it straight, do it. You want to wear a weave, do it. You want to wear a relaxer, go for it. We have freedom.”


She continued - “[Our hair] is ever evolving and when you see Wakanda Forever, that will be evident.”



WAKANDA IS TRULY FOREVER


Wakanda Forever follows the leaders of the fictional country as they fight to protect their nation following the death of King T’Challa, who was portrayed by Chadwick Boseman in the first film. The Golden Globe winner died in August 2020 at age 43 following a private battle with colon cancer. Director Ryan Coogler revealed after Boseman’s passing that he decided not to recast the role.


Nyong’o’s Nakia also experienced a transformation. “She stepped away from Wakanda, she stepped away from being a war dog and now we see this much softer, gentler version of her, and we wanted her hair to reflect that, so she let her hair grow.”


Making her work even more special, Friend has watched as the hair in the film has influenced the real world.


“When we did the first movie, you couldn’t find hair that came in a 4A, B or C texture. We had to make everything. We permed everything. Fast forward to now, you can buy it all. I call it the Black Panther influence. Hair brands understand they have to do more, do better. People are feeling empowered. We won’t settle for something that isn’t right for us. We’re being heard.”


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