This is the concluding part of O'Natural's interview with Lydia Forson
You talked about the fans recognizing you. But what are the reactions of the directors, the producers, the costumers, when they see you?
I will give an example. On this set [Phone Swap], the plan was for me to have a weave. Now in my heart, I wanted to do something with my hair. But I understood where the character was coming from and I respected the director's point of view. But then I took out my hair and I have to thank Nse. (See our interview of Nse here) She said, “You know what? Do you, let's see what you look like". I had twisted my hair, I took it out and I put it up like how I do it. And everyone looked at me different. Like okay this is what she really looks like. So on several occasions I get on a set and people see my natural hair and the assumption is, what can we do with natural hair? And I am forced to teach them how to treat my hair, because they are so used to doing the weave. So I become my own stylist at that point, when I'm given permission. I try not to impose that [natural hair] on any director or producer. When I'm given the freedom, I ask what is my character? I will be able to do something amazing with my hair.
So every time I get on any set, they want to force the hair to go in a certain direction, because the assumption is if you are playing this character you are in a long weave or with a curly weave. And I love this story [Phone Swap] because Nse's character has dreadlocks, and the only reason why they did not want me to use my hair was because they did not want the characters to clash. After I did my hair, they realized that you can have ten people with natural hair in a movie and they will all look different and will suite their character. So I don't blame the world, they just don't know. So when I go anywhere, it's my job to educate them, that listen, I can do this. I can play a mom with my hair. All I have to do is dye it back to black. I can be a feisty woman, up it up. Even if I want, I can use a curling thong and it will be like the perm that they want…
And I'm very humble when it comes to working with people, because you don't want to tell them to do it like this. So I let them do their own thing, then I say let me do it my way and it almost always works.
What's so amazing about what you are saying now is that there are different types of characters and natural hair is versatile enough to be interpreted for that character. That's an amazing thing to say.
Because when people say natural hair, all they see is Afro and I've never worn an Afro with my hair: it's always a punk or I've dyed it or I've twisted it. And these are stuff I do on my own... if you are not creative, you can't work the hair. Creativity is a big thing. Most women do not even know how to treat their own hair. That's why they would run to do a weave because when they put it on, all you have to do is comb it. I like to take care of my own hair. So I dye my own hair. I twist my own hair. I wash my own hair. I have my own hair products. So it's easy for me. But the major issue we were talking about is the stereotype of natural hair that you can't do anything with it. And when you have natural hair, the only character she can play is that she is a house girl or good girl then she has the natural hair but they never see you do anything feisty with the natural hair, but you can. But it is not entirely the crew, its lack of knowledge. And then some people with natural hair have no clue on how to take care of their hair. I like to read, I like to experiment.
|Picture Courtesy of news1ghana.com|
Do you have a regimen? What’s your routine?
Weekly shampoo, conditioner... Because I put so much colour in my hair, I always try to moisturize. Again, I don’t like grease; I always like moisturizers that are not too greasy. And then occasionally, once in a while, I will treat my hair. I will buy maybe a cholesterol treatment or I can even crack two eggs and put it in my hair. It will smell for a bit but then when I finish, I will wash my hair. That’s protein for my hair. So that’s all I do, I don’t do anything fussy.
I have a very simple approach to life. I don’t believe in rules you know, do this a certain way. Everyone wants to hear "Okay Lydia Forson does this to her hair, she wakes up and she does this". Then you think to yourself: when I do the same thing I will get the same result. Find what suites you.
Would you like to see more natural hair in our African movies?
It’s not even a matter of hair. I think I would like to see people be more original. People try desperately to look like certain people. Be yourself. I’m not one to preach. I am not a hypocrite, I don’t go about saying everyone should do natural hair. But I would like to see more originality. People wear weaves up to their butts… I really have a big problem with those weaves… and I will tell you without any fear.
We can’t compete with America or the U.K by trying to be like them, they are already there. We can compete with them by trying to be like us, because there’s something new. It’s like African print and then silk. There’s a contrast. Some people will have a taste for African print or a taste for silk. But you have silk and then there’s imitation silk. What do you think people will go for? So don’t try to be a cheap imitation. Be original… I’m not saying go natural, I’m just saying be original.