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FEATURES Jun 10 2012 1:02AM

True Blood Actress Tanya Wright Discusses Her Natural Hair

by Chai, Back to Curly  
TM.com: First off, congrats on going natural! What inspired you to make the change? Was it a difficult one being in Hollywood?

TW: Hollywood is a funny place. I like to say it is mostly fear-based—that is, most people do what everyone else is doing—especially if it’s making money!  It occurred to me recently that I was on the bandwagon without actually making a decision to be on it. I just followed the herd—until I didn’t and started to follow my own path. Then, my life really started to blossom, personally and professionally.

For me, going natural was less a decision and more of an evolution. I never disliked my hair, I just didn’t know what the heck to do with it! I had NO IDEA what it needed to be healthy, other than what I had heard in the magazines and in the media, and many products work differently, depending on your hair type. I read a book called CURLY LIKE ME, and my world opened up. There was a way to deal with my hair! Also, at the time, I had just completed work on my directorial feature debut, BUTTERFLY RISING. I was feeling empowered and enjoyed being more...well, more me. I guess the hair was the natural next step. 

TM.com: What are three words to describe your natural hair today?

TW: Three words to describe my hair? BIG! EXPRESSIVE! COLORFUL! I don’t literally “color my hair (in fact I don’t use any chemicals at all”) but my hair—especially when it’s really big and really wild—is a bit like a party! I’ve realized when you have a big party on top of your head (big, bold, expressive curls), you’ve gotta tone it down with the rest of you. I tend to veer on the side of simple, classic clothes. My hair makes the boldest statement, and I find, for me, that’s enough.

TM.com: What's been the reaction of your friends, colleagues and loved ones on your decision to go natural?

TW:  Everyone’s reaction was simply, “why didn’t you always wear your hair like that?” That was all! I was concerned about wearing my hair down on TRUE BLOOD, especially because I play a cop on the show, but I just went into work one day with it down and everyone started complimenting me on how great my hair looked. Then, I just started wearing it down when we started to shoot!  I love it for Kenya, cause she can be a little tough, LOL!  It softens her a bit, gives her a bit more femininity. I like that and it’s closer to who I am. I enjoy being a woman.

TM.com: You're currently halfway through filming Season 5 of True Blood, what's been your go-to style while on set? While at home?

TW: My go-to-style on set is just letting me hair do what it do!  I am a fanatic about sleeping with a satin scarf at night and keeping my hair moisturized—I am a huge fan of Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk and am looking forward to trying the Monoi collection. I like to experiment with products that cater to curly hair. My hair tends to be on the dry side, so I keep it really well hydrated. Moisture is the name of the game in keeping my hair healthy. I also have this thing about freedom, and it sort of manifests itself in my hair. I rarely wear ties or barrettes in my hair. This may sound strange, but I feel like I’m in bondage when I tie my hair up! I don’t like it. I like just wearing my hair out and all over the place. It makes me feel happy and free.

TM.com: Will we see your character experiment with her new curls? What style would you like to see your character rock on the screen?

TW: Ha! I would love to see Kenya rock an Afro!  I’ve tried to do it on my hair, but it doesn’t stay up!  It just flops down. My hair is super-fine. I’ve worn an Afro for photo shoots in the past, and I love it!

TM.com: Did you ever feel frustrated during your transition? What kept you motivated while making the move to natural hair?
TW: The only thing that frustrates me about my hair is shrinkage!!!  My true length is somewhere in the middle of my back, but if I just co-wash it, add moisture and let it air-dry, it shrinks. But I’ve discovered banding and that helps to loosen the curl and lengthen my hair. It ain’t the most comfortable thing to sleep on, though, LOL! What keeps me motivated with my hair is that I can see PROGRESS: length, health, all that. Also, I enjoy taking time out to do something just for me, whether it’s deep conditioning or just nurturing myself. I LOVE THE NATURAL HAIR COMMUNITY ON YOUTUBE!! They are the bomb; so giving and helpful. I enjoy seeing black woman helping each other, sharing things that have helped them in hopes it might help other people, too. I’ve learned a lot from them about how to take care of my hair.

TM.com: Any tips, tricks, advice for fellow transitioners taking the plunge?

TW: My tip? JUST DO IT!  Now, I live in Harlem, N.Y., where just about every woman walking down the street is natural or in some mode of transitioning! It’s beautiful to see. It may be harder to see folks who look like you in other areas of the country. There is something so enlightening about the process, though. You’ll feel great in ways you never thought you could—complete self-acceptance, perhaps. I love it. 

As in life, the results you want (i.e., length) may not come over night—but they WILL, with patience. Moisture is key and take your time in the shower, girl!  I carve out an extra 20 minutes or so when I am co-washing in the shower to thoroughly moisturize and comb my hair with a wide-tooth comb when its sopping wet. Also, we all have different hair textures, and I think it’s crucial —whether you’re a 3C or a 4B—to EMBRACE YOUR NATURAL TEXTURE! Rock it and rock it hard! Confidence is a beautiful thing. And never—NEVER—leave home without your satin cap! :) 

TM.com: We're all excited for the new season of True Blood! Where else can we find you in the meantime? What are you currently working on? 

TW: I wrote and directed the movie BUTTERFLY RISING and wrote a book of the same name. We will be on tour with the movie this year (for updates, please join us on FB! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Butterfly-Rising/166995178653). I also appear in the upcoming film PREDISPOSED, which had its World Premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. And, of course, I’ll be back for Season 5 of TRUE BLOOD as Deputy Kenya Jones, where I will debut my natural hair! :)

 Lastly, I am working on a show about natural hair!  It’s spoofy, fun and can’t wait to unveil it. Hope you guys enjoy it!


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