Teyonah Parris Is on a ‘Very Intentional’ Hair Journey to Make Sure Black Women Feel Seen ‘How We Naturally Are’

“I want to be part of normalizing our existence,” the “They Cloned Tyrone” actress tells TheWrap

Teyonah Parris’ decision to wear her natural hair is part of her “very intentional” goal to ensure Black women feel seen on-screen — and in all spaces — just as they are.

Parris, an NAACP Image award winner, has shown up and shown out in every role she’s been cast in, from “Candyman” (2021) to “WandaVision” (2021) to the “Photograph” (2020) and more. And in every role — including those mentioned — and at least for the last decade, she’s made it a point to wear her natural hair along the way. 

In Juel Taylor’s “They Cloned Tyrone,” Parris continued her mission. 

“I’ve been very intentional for maybe a little over a decade now about making sure that as a Black woman, and as Black women, we feel seen in these spaces. Just how we are. How are we naturally are.” Parris, who played Yo-Yo in the film, told TheWrap. 

“If that’s curly hair, kinky hair, whatever that is, I want to be a part of normalizing our existence as it is,” Parris continued. 

Historically, Black hair hasn’t always been deemed acceptable or attractive, particularly in predominately white spaces and corporate settings in the U.S.

Opposition to Black hair textures and Black hairstyles, like afros, locs and twists, prompted Black people to launch self-affirming actions, including The Black Hair movement, which started in the midst of the 1960s Civil Rights era. But while the Black community found ways to encourage the love of their hair in its natural state, the some organizations has continued practices that target and punish Black people for having it. 

"They Cloned Tyrone" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris and John Boyega in”They Cloned Tyrone” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

In 2018, four Black women came together to fight the issue on a legislative level with the C.R.O.W.N. Act, which bans discrimination on the basis of hair texture and hairstyles. So far only 19 of the country’s 50 states have enacted the law. 

Parris previously went on her own journey toward loving and appreciating her hair, and now the actress said she’s thankful for the support she’s received from creatives she’s worked with over the years who understand the message she wants to send to watchers. 

“I’ve been very blessed to be able to work with storytellers, directors, who could also stand behind that, and are like, ‘Yeah, sure, why wouldn’t she or couldn’t she have natural hair?’ So to play Monica Rambeau, who is a Black female superhero, chocolate skin, big natural hair — it was like, ‘We’re going to do this right, and we’re going to do it well.’ I’ve definitely had support with making sure that intention and care was given to bringing that image to the screen.”

And her “They Cloned Tyrone” co-star Boyega loves every bit of it. 

“It’s great though, and it’s different for the men,” Boyega told TheWrap. “It’s much more complicated and harder for the women. So to see that, and to see members of my family also be the beneficiaries of characters like that. It’s just something that’s inspirational to me to be there.”

“They Cloned Tyrone,” which is his feature film directorial debut and stars Teyonah Parris, John Boyega and Jamie Foxx. The film is now playing in select theaters and streaming on Netflix.