This Wig Designer Is Trying to Fix Broadway’s Hair Inclusivity Problem

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As an actor, you are already feeling vulnerable.You’re going to have to go out there in front of a camera, trying to do as few takes as possible. You want to do well. This is high stakes. You’re getting paid a good amount of money in most, or some, regards. However [the audience] sees you is what’s going to be marked down for history.

Feeling an [added] level of vulnerability, having to be at your best when you don’t feel your best, that’s a heavy load. I know there have totally been times where I’ve felt like I haven’t been able to give my best performance because I was so in my head about how I looked, knowing that this is not the best representation of me.

Instead of my one job as an actor, I’m thinking about having to do somebody else’s job and just on a certain level, unable to focus. And it’s not always fair.

Allure: You’re having to multitask whereas other actors that aren’t Black may not have to.

NM: Oh, 100%. They’re just reading their scripts, in their chair, not having at all to really worry about these problems. But I, instead of being able to just read my script, sometimes I have to be looking in the mirror praying that I can say the right thing to get them to pivot when they’re doing it wrong and try and hope to have the courage to say the right thing and not be labeled a diva or a problem. It’s a really heavy load.

Allure: Tell me about starting your consulting agency, AcTRESSES.

NM: I was in my first show, in New Jersey. The theater didn’t have anyone who knew how to braid our hair. My castmate was going through it about having to travel to Brooklyn [to get her hair braided] from deep in Jersey. It took several hours to get to Brooklyn; to hop on multiple trains, then the subway. She was stressed because in the theater you only get one day off each week.

Her whole day was gone. And [the burden] wasn’t just in the travel. It was in the load of having to find somebody to do her hair. And the only place she knew was Brooklyn. And I remember saying, ‘“Hey, do you want me to do it?” Like, girl, let me do it. I don’t want you stressed out like this. I just found myself being in those situations every time I turned around. Since I have this ability to do hair, I wanted to take the load off.

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