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.

Also many pictures on this blog belong to the authors but there are others that we do not have ownership for and thus we do not claim ownership of the ones that do not belong to us.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Natural hair is freedom you cannot buy" - Interview with Actress Kate Henshaw

I met Kate Henshaw at the Kinky Apothecary's birthday event (Check out the blog posts here and here) and she graciously agreed to chat about her natural hair journey. Kate Henshaw is a popular Nigerian actress who has featured in many successful Nigerian movies. She won an AMAA (Africa Movie Academy Award) for best actress in 2008 and she also writes a weekend column for the Vanguard Newspaper. I enjoyed Kate's humour, honesty and her excitement through out our chat. Enjoy!

When and how did you go natural? I stopped retouching my hair on the 10th of September 2010. I cut off the last relaxed bit of hair about a year later and started doing this (points to her twists). I decided to go natural because I was tired and I wanted my hair back. I had really healthy hair before I ever started using Ultra Sheen relaxer which was the very first relaxer I used. I remember it very well because my mom was a hairdresser.

My hair was long, full and, healthy and then I started relaxing, which made it look nice, but then I started loosing my hairline. Then they said retouch every 2 weeks; retouch every 6 weeks; retouch every 8 weeks. It was crazy and my hair was falling off even with all the advanced products I was using. It was getting limp. My hair stylist and I tried everything. And then I decided that I would just cut everything off and have a change when I turned 40 even if it had to be a low cut: I was prepared to do it.

Wow! So what was the reaction of your family and friends? One of my friends said "Ah you are a celebrity, you cannot be carrying this type of hair"  I asked "Why?" Why can't I carry this kind of hair? It is my hair. I am tired of all this Oyinbo culture. We are black people! We should be proud of how our hair is: kinky, fun, healthy, rough. We like it like that! You know, I was just tired of trying to make it look like their's because that's basically it: for me to fry my hair to look like Oyinbo hair. It is not Oyinbo hair. The kinky will always come out you know?

So since your mom is a hairdresser what did she say? My mom. (Kate smiles widely) Oh when she saw it she said " It suits you. It makes you look younger". I said "Yeah, I know right?"

It is just so much fun! Oh! I cannot explain the feeling I had when I went to the gym and came back for the first time and I put my hair under the shower and the water just hit my head and I was like "Oh!" It felt amazing! Amazing!

I always hated the hair dryer. Each time I had to fix a weave-on, I needed to sit under the dryer for maybe an hour and the heat made me angry. It is just so exhilarating having this hair. And it is not for anybody. It is for me! I have chosen it for me. If I need to style it into something else, I will wear a wig, at least then I have the freedom of taking off the wig.

So it sounds like it is freedom for you. It is freedom you cannot buy! You cannot pay for it! Everybody should go natural o!

(I start laughing)

I know it is hard. Some people say it makes them look like a house girl. Trust me that is who you are: Natural. Not a house girl but Natural. Having your own hair and making it work. You have to make it work. You have to try. I am one that always looks forward to challenges. I want to try out new things and I do not care what anybody thinks. It is for me. You can never please the world so you do what makes you happy.

So how did you learn? I took part in a stage play alongside Tosin Otudeko and she had natural hair and it was long hair. I thought she was a girl of 20 only to find out that she is married with 2 boys! I asked her a few questions and she introduced me to Kinky Apothecary and to Nibi (owner of Kinky Apothecary. See Nibi's interview here). I went to her house and asked her what products I should be using. She told me that she cannot tell me what products to use but that I should try various products  to see which works. She said look out for products that do not have silicone in them and this and that. I was like "Just tell me what to use! That is too much work!"  Then I went to her blog and learned about co-washing and so many other things.

Do you twist your hair yourself? No, no my hand cannot reach there! I go to the salon and pay them for that.

Do you find anything frustrating about having natural hair? Styling can be frustrating. This (she points to her twists) is about the only style I have been doing since I went natural. I am loving it but I would like to do different styles.

As an actress, how have the directors, producers and film makers approached you having natural hair? Funny enough, I have used this hairstyle in a movie which is yet to be released. I played a high powered executive. The producer said "Oh I think you will have to use a weave-on" and I said "No! A high powered executive can carry this type of hair" And I was looking slamming in my suit!

The movie Kate mentioned is titled "The Meeting". Check out the trailer below.

Keep it natural!



Africa Naturalista said...

Nice. A celebrity is comfortably carrying natural hair.

In my opinion, I think Kate Henshaw shouldn't limit herself to twists, even though her hair is not so long. She can be more hair stylish, even with natural hair. This will go a long way in letting Nigerians know you can carry natural hair and still be very styling, not just by twists.

Natmane said...

Okay people, now you know why I love Kate Henshaw! Great interview Omozo.What's with Nigerians and this 'house girl thing'?
Ms. Kate, I think you should find some time to go through the numerous hair blogs you will most definitely find more hair inspiration apart from twists. And thanks a million for representing the Natural Community! Who says an executive cant rock her kinks?

Omozo said...

@Natmane and Africa Naturalista: Great points about trying other hairstyles. I shared some websites with her during the interview.