The hair tips, advice and recommendations given on this blog are given based on the experiences of the authors. These tips may not work for everyone and every hair type and it is important to acknowledge this since we are neither hair specialists nor trichologists.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nse Ikpe Etim talks about her new movie, "Phone Swap", and natural hair.

In Kunle Afolayan's latest movie, Phone Swap, Nse Ikpe Etim plays the lead female character. Her character's name is Mary and this character wears locs in the movie. So I caught up with Nse Ikpe Etim on the set of Phone Swap to talk about hair and her new movie.

On the set of Phone Swap

Tell me about your natural hair journey?

It basically started with me not wanting hair. I would say that I always shaved my hair.I never really had hair and when I started [growing it] I would wear a weave. And then a year ago, Kunle approached me to do this movie, Phone Swap. Now I was wondering, [since] the character wears locks, how are we going to do this? You can't get locks in one year. Well, not a torrent of locks like was described in the script. But I felt, if I wanted to become the character, I had to become natural. It took a long time to make up my mind, because I realized it's going to be difficult. So I used to talk to a girl called Adedoyin. I would go on and on about it. She said, "Natural hair is beautiful". I was like okay.

So I started just weaving and wearing wigs and everything. And then I had to lock the hair with the fake locks. It's been very difficult. My hair would break. I would feel uncomfortable because sometimes you don't know what to do with the hair. And I just went on and on with the hair and before you knew it, right now I'm more comfortable in my skin.  
I'm sure I could have been able to pay rent with the money I've used to buy hair and the debts you incur from having to buy hair when you've got hair. It just doesn't make sense to me. And a lot of the money can be put into good use. If you don't have anything better [ to do with it] then give it up to charity. This is not me trying to be an activist for hair but this is me being as realistic as possible.  When you've got hair I think you should flaunt your natural hair -- the only thing that makes us truly African and truly beautiful. And kinky hair is beautiful. I would say that it was Kunle Afolayan that literally led me to natural hair.

Prior to this script, had you ever read a script where the character specifically has natural hair? What did you think?

First , it was wow, okay this is natural hair. And I'm wondering, well we can fix the locks, we can do this. I was looking for ways around it. But you know when you look for a way around something it is never that thing.  I decided to grow my hair, so even if I had to add an extension It would still be natural. If I take off my locs now you would find that my hair is natural. And I've got thick hair.  My hair is healthy -- you know when you have healthy hair that is really full and nice.

What do you think about the fact that Mary has locs? What do you think that says about her character?

Strong. A strong character.I think very few people can carry things that are their own. I don't wear a lot of extensions. I used to wear the hair, yes which, because of my profession, I might have to wear a wig or an extension but me as a person, Nse, I like my hair, a lot. Someone laughed at me when I had no hair and I said, "I am not my hair". And the person said, "No Nse, you are your hair". (She laughs)

Courtesy Bella

Going back to what you said earlier, why was it a struggle, going natural?

It would be a struggle because we are used to a perm. We are used to looking slick. Because you think natural hair can never look sleek. But what natural hair would look like is  beautiful. You can't explain it. There would be no description. There would be nothing to describe it. It would be a wow effect.

I remember when I did the Wow Magazine shoot and I kept saying I wish my hair were slightly longer. And the girl asked why. I said because it is natural and she said, "We can use it, your hair would work". But I said, "Not yet, the time hasn't come". But you know what, time comes when you want it to come. So I think the time has come.

So Are you looking forward to it? Looking forward to wearing your natural hair out?

I can't wait to finish the film, take off my hair and walk the red carpet with natural hair. I think I would do a movie with just my hair. Yes, I'm gonna do it.

When I look at our Nollywood films  I never see our [natural] hair and even when it is an epic movie, they have relaxed hair and then they put something on it.

I  remember when I did Black Gold I was meant to be an activist, a lawyer -- about two scenes or three scenes. And the makeup artist said, "Your hair?"  I said, " Cornrows" and she was like what?
I said, "Weave the hair go back."

They thought why would you want to appear like this in a movie?
But I am African. How else do you  appear?  I am an African lawyer;  I'm this and that. This is the only way the other people, the white man, or whoever is watching, would think, I'm connecting to my roots.
I think this movie in particular, yes Phone Swap might be a romantic comedy, might be anything you want to call it rom com, give it all the big names, the only thing I know it has done and it will do is connect us to our roots. 

First the clothes are very us, the hair is us. We have Lydia [Forson] carrying her natural hair. So it's like we are promoting us. It is a film by us for us. When I say a film for us by us, I mean for us comfortable in our skin... A film by us for the world. Yeah.

So finally what has the whole experience taught you in regards to natural hair?

I'm comfortable in my skin. I'm not worried about not being me. I am able to be me, as I was created to be. I do not need any thing, any additives -- yes maintenance. But I work with what I have; I am not looking for what I do not have. I'm not Caucasian. I am African and that's it.


Omozo said...

"But what natural hair would look like is beautiful. "

I love that line so much I read it over and over again. So true!

Great interview Oghomwen. I enjoy watching Nse in her movies. I wish both of you all the best.

Natmane said...

From her smile and carriage there is no doubt that Nse Loves herself!! I'm a fan and now I have one more reason to watch out for her. Thanks for the interview...really that's a good question: "What should an African woman look like" we spend so much time, resources and sometimes get into debt just to 'belong'...

*ajalahtravel* said...

She's extremely confident.....beautiful. Even Kunle's hair is a statment.