“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Camille Friend, head of hair department, talks about the stunning looks of the sequel

Both of 2018 Black Panther and this year wakanda forever have had a tremendous impact on popular culture, including expanding the acceptance and expression of Afro-Futurism in everything from fashion and hairstyles to architecture. Production designer Hannah Beachler and costume designer Ruth E. Carter won Oscars for their work on the first film and are up for a return to the catwalk with Wakanda forever.

For Black Pantherhead of hairdressing Friend Camille found ways to incorporate elements of African tribal culture and expanded those influences into wakanda forever. She used the same trial and error and inventive thinking required to create looks that could be worn production-wide or in harsh environments, like those underwater sequences in Talokan. How could the Mayan-inspired Talokani hairstyles look consistent when the cast members wearing them have been submerged in water for over 12 hours?

In a conversation with The creditsFriend tells us how to fix the issues needed to get those gorgeous looks wakanda forever. She also considers the lasting effects her designs have had on pop culture and how she is helping Hollywood become more inclusive as the founder of Hair Scholars, which mentors and educates professional hairstylists on working in film and television.

hair design in wakanda forever was partly based on research on Senegalese warriors, the Zulu tribe and the Maasai people. What are some of the direct results of this research that viewers may see expressed as part of specific characters or specific scenes in the film?

The Jabari are definitely inspired by Senegalese warriors. Even since the first one, you know, with Winston Duke, we’ve really talked a lot about how the Jabari look, from the angles of the cuts to the lines in the head, even the white paint. All this really comes from the Senegalese warriors. Then you have the Himba tribe, where you have the beautiful clay look at the elders of the tribe. I remember the first one, Ryan said he really wanted to make a clay wig. I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t that easy.

Angela Bassett as Ramonda in Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER.  Photo by Annette Brown.  © 2022 WONDER.
Winston Duke as M’Baku in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Eli Ade. © 2022 WONDER.

Problem solving time?

Yes! We had weeks of trial and error. After a while, I just had to pray to God for the answer, and in fact, the answer was going to Home Depot. We ended up making a clay wig out of different substances that would hold and last during filming. This time we posed the clay wig. We could make a clay wig in two days, whereas before it took us a week. So we have evolved. It’s basically plaster of paris. I will tell you the steps. We basically take a braided wig, then put the plaster on it, and smooth it down with gloves and a bit of water. We let it dry, then we go in and paint. It is what remains and lasts forever. We’ve made it a science. I’m very happy with this one.

(LR): Dorothy Steel as Merchant Tribe Elder, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Danai Gurira as Okoye in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 WONDER.

Were there historical elements for T’Challa’s mourning and commemoration scenes?

Certainly, I will tell you this story. The reason Shuri and Ramonda’s hair ended up short is because Ryan knew that in West African culture, when someone is grieving, they all cut their hair. When we enter the story, it’s the year after T’Challa died, so what would their hair look like a year later? This is where my design started for these characters in wakanda forever.

Angela Bassett as Ramonda in Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER.  Photo by Annette Brown.  © 2022 WONDER.
Angela Bassett as Ramonda in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Annette Brown. © 2022 WONDER.

How did you design the underwater sequences of Talokan? It must have been a challenge.

I will say that I have a whole other respect for water. In a lot of movies, you shoot them dry for wet. The hair is really dry, but we spray it a little. In wakanda forever, it was a whole different ball game. When you have people completely submerged in water for 12 hours a day, how are you going to get there? Also, we couldn’t put any product in the hair because the hair product in the water makes it cloudy. So how are we going to keep that hair product-free? We had to figure it out, and again, it was through a lot of trial and error. What glues work? What glues don’t? We ended up using a lot of silicone glue because it held up underwater and it’s more of a flexible glue. We took chewing gum, broke it down with alcohol, and made it very fluid. Then we made a hairspray out of it which we sprayed on all the pieces and let them dry. We figured out how to make it thin enough that it wouldn’t change the color of the hair. Then we sprayed all the parts with the glue hair spray we made, and that’s how all the hair stood in the water for 12 hours a day.

Tenoch Huerta as Namor in Marvel Studios' Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.  Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.  © 2022 WONDER.
Tenoch Huerta as Namor in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 WONDER.

Can you talk about how the two Black Panther and wakanda forever have been influential in the real world in terms of access and expansion of hair products and designs for black hair?

After the first one, a writer friend called us and said we made dark hair look great. After Black Panther, there have been so many other movies that have featured natural hair. I am so proud that we were able to have an impact by starting this movement. I have people contacting me on Instagram and saying, “My daughter was so happy to see someone who looks like her on screen. They saw someone whose hair texture was the same. Also, 3C or 4A, B or C textures were very hard to find on the first one. We had to get there. We had to perm it. It was a lot of work that we had to do. On this one, every manufacturer now has it. I think culturally that’s what’s changed. Even with products, I did some research recently and found over 40 hair care companies owned by black women. It’s a nice thing to have so many on the market.

Angela Bassett as Ramonda in Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER.  Photo by Annette Brown.  © 2022 WONDER.
(L-R): Danai Gurira as Okoye and Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Eli Ade. © 2022 WONDER.

It’s the whole spectrum of natural hair, both on and off screen, that’s celebrated.

I think there is a huge difference. And we have things like the CROWN Act, which legalized wearing your hair naturally. You can wear your hair in any style you want and still be in the workplace. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer, a doctor, or a short-lived cook; you have the right to wear your hair naturally, as it comes out of your head. The younger generation will grow up with it, without any shame for their hair. It just gives us better body positivity and gives us so much more of a great image and confirmation that black hair is beautiful.

And to move the needle in Hollywood, you founded Hair Scholars, which has its own website and is making a big impact on inclusivity in the business.

It’s one of my greatest passions. I strongly believe in equity and inclusion. I worked for Warner Brothers, and that’s what I did for them. It’s a matter of education. Education is liberating for people. What I like to teach is how to be in the business, how to treat it like a business, how to close your deals and how to be a department head because that’s definitely what people are looking for, that’s the equity in business. That’s how you put on a wig. This is how you do textured hair. So all of these things together will make a better community. At this point, a lot of producers are calling me for movies that I’m not even doing, and I’m helping people team up because I know people in LA, New York, London, and Atlanta; I know all the people and what their skills are. I am perfectly happy to do so. Whether you’re white, black, Native American, Asian, or Filipino, there’s absolutely no excuse for an artist to sit in the chair and you, as a professional hairstylist, makeup artist, or barber, not being able to style your hair. . This is unacceptable in 2022 and 2023 and in the future. Every artist has the right to enter the trailer and sit on the chair and be taken care of and feel beautiful.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently in theaters nationwide.

For more on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, check out these stories:

How ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw Used Light and Shadows

Hannah Beachler, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Production Designer, Reveals Her Talokan Guide

Let’s discuss the mid-credits scene of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Featured Image: Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Photo by Annette Brown. © 2022 WONDER.

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