Afro Hair Rituals

Afro Hair Rituals, from the BBC New Creatives Project, is a short film with a big message that all Black girls could benefit from hearing more often. 

Afro Hair Rituals

Watch Afro Hair Rituals here.

‘Afro Hair Rituals’ is a short film from the BBC New Creatives Project, depicting a snapshot of a young Black girls hair routine. It takes a simplistic and beautiful look at the rituals surrounding Black hair, in a cathartic and relatable way that you don’t usually see on-screen.

The mainstream often depicts the Black female hair experience in a cliché manner, taking place in a salon surrounded by members of the community, and a hairdresser with impractical nails, who has no concept of the amount of pain and discomfort she is inflicting on her client. Now that is not to say that this doesn’t happen, but before we migrated to our hairdressers, we often had our hair done by family members, in settings like those depicted in Afro Hair Rituals.

The short film shows the lovely relationship of a young girl getting her hair done by her grandmother. It was refreshing to see this therapeutic and intimate depiction on-screen for a change, emphasising how rooted in our heritage the action of getting our hair done actually is.

Directed by Amber Akaunu, Afro Hair Rituals is a short film with a big message. A Black girl’s hair is often the staple for which assumptions about her are made. In a political sense, it can be the cause of discrimination in a workplace, whilst simultaneously being a political statement for rebelling against racism, discrimination and Eurocentric beauty ideals.

Amidst all this, it can be forgotten that our hair is simply an expression of Black beauty, culture, heritage and of course, versatility. Afro Hair Rituals cuts through all the noise and brings it back to basics.

Choosing the dynamic of grandmother and granddaughter was a smart choice on Akaunu’s part as it subtly celebrates Black heritage: from the Afrocentric art and music to the giving and sharing of food, it humanises our experiences, and in my view, extends that our hair is ours, and is not a novelty for others to touch, appropriate, or have an opinion about.

The dynamic between grandmother and granddaughter also shows how our styles and techniques are passed down through generations. It’s our culture, and it is steeped in a rich history that is often lost in the fight for protecting it. In a three-minute window, Afro Hair Rituals champions natural Black hair and the message that our hair is beautiful. It’s simple, relatable, effective, and it’s the gentle reminder that every Black girl needs.

Read our interview with Amber Akaunu here

New Creatives is a talent development scheme supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts. Check out our New Creatives coverage in the New Creatives Voicebox.

Header Image Credit: Funke Alafiatayo


Saskia Calliste

Saskia Calliste Voice Team

Saskia is the Deputy Editor of Voice and has worked on campaigns such as International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and Anti-Bullying Week. Outside of Voice, Saskia is a published author (Hairvolution) and has guest featured in various other publications (The Women Writers’ Handbook/ Cosmopolitan/ The Highlight). She has a BA in Creative Writing and Journalism and an MA in Publishing. She is a mentor for Women of the World Global, has guest lectured at the University of Roehampton and has led seminars/panel talks on Race, Equality and Diversity. She was a 2022 Guest Judge for Dave (TV Channel) in search of the 'Joke of the Fringe'. She is 27-years-old, based in London, and loves to cook and explore new places in her spare time.

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