There are a myriad of things that go into creating a television show. Not only do the actors/actresses have to learn scripts, they also have to be physically groomed for their parts. Hairstyling is an aspect of television and movies that is often overlooked by the audience. However, without that crucial component, characters would not be fully developed. It takes the right hair design to cultivate the character’s personality and to bring the era, in which the show is being set, to life. It also takes the right hairstylists to create a character’s hair identity. And that’s exactly who Stacey Morris and Nena Ross are – the right hairstylists with the right knack. From cranking out trendy hairstyles on the critically-acclaimed television show Black-ish in a matter of minutes to working diligently through a pandemic, these two deserve all the accolades they have received and then some.
The popular television show Black-ish has won many peoples’ hearts over for several reasons, and rightfully so. The characters are hilarious and talented, the storylines are both relatable and reflect the times, and the hairstyles the characters sport on the show are influential to our culture. Black-ish Hair Department Head Nena Ross and celebrity barber Stacey Morris are responsible for the recent fly hairdos we’ve witnessed on the show. Whether it’s a fresh lineup and precise beard trim on actor Anthony Anderson or a totally fabulous crown braid on actress Tracee Ellis Ross, the hairstyles are always intriguing. I got a chance to chat with Stacey and Nena about their work on Black-ish, and the first thing they discussed was the importance of properly caring for the actors and actresses’ hair.
“Hair care is first,” said Nena. “With the ladies it’s important to make sure they use the right shampoos and conditioners for their hair. I go in and find out what works for the different textures of their hair and make sure they have the right knowledge and stuff they need to care for their hair once they leave the show. And most of the styles they do are heat-protected styles so that helps cut down on breaking and shedding on the hair.” added Nena. Stacey, who is the barber for the male actors, agreed with Nena but also confessed that it takes a little more work to get the guys to adhere to a hair regimen. “Guys are not as diligent when it comes to taking care of their hair, but I make sure I provide them with the proper products at home so that I have a good canvas of healthy hair to work with when at work. I keep it simple, because guys don’t like more than two steps to hair care,” said Stacey.
When the pandemic hit this past year, both Stacey and Nena’s creativity process was challenged. They had to work around restrictions and masks, but they rose above the obstacles. They took their art in another direction to make sure the hairstyles on Black-ish reflected what was happening in the world. Most beauty and barber shops were closed, forcing men and women to either let their hair grow out or innovate when it came to doing their hair. Stacey and Nena followed right along with this reality on the show. Stacey remarked, “Everybody wasn’t able to get their hair done, and they realized that they discovered a new style so we did that on the show as well. Now, Anthony wants to wear his hair longer on his head, and the pandemic definitely had a lot of influence on that. After the pandemic you’re left with all this great hair so you don’t want to get rid of it. You want to figure out what to do with it.” Stacey created hairstyles for the males on the show that included modern-day afros and longer beards.
Although the actresses on Black-ish are known to rock an array of styles, as a result of the pandemic they concentrated on more natural styles and creative accessories. Nena explained, “There was more braiding throughout the season during the pandemic. I added accessories. We added yarn in Marsai’s hair and different jewels so that we could bring the braids out for a more contemporary look. For Tracee, we focused on doing different twist styles, up styles, and ponytail styles with the natural hair. It was nice to be able to work with them on their natural hair because that’s where 90% of black culture is moving towards, and like Stacey said…once you put the hairstyles on television it becomes a trend.”
Catch the ladies’ creative hair designs on the 8th and final season of Black-ish which is expected to air in 2022.