Going natural is a usually a pretty drastic decision and for a lot of folks, it can be quite torturous. A common complaint is how lengthy the transition can be and the inevitable continuous maintenance; thespian and AMVCA Trailblazer Lala Akindoju was well aware of all this but she went ahead and did it anyway.
Although she readily admits she definitely doesn’t have the time, effort, or patience to care for it herself (she relies on a trusty team of hairstylists for that), she is committed to the long haul; thick, healthy long hair and she’s been watching it grow for over three years now.
When she’s between roles, she sticks to simple protective styles and an easy to care for routine. We chat to the #NewNollywood darling about her hair secrets, glam squad, why she went natural and what #LalasNigerianHairStyleSeries is about.
BNS: Have you always had natural hair ?
Lala Akindoju: Nope. Barely 3 years
BNS: What made you decide to go natural?
Lala Akindoju: At first wanted to give my edges another chance at living ?.Then [it was about getting] a new look. A new vibe. I really wanted to reduce the use of chemicals in my hair and I’ve come to love it. It helps me stay unique. Also, as an actor my natural hair is a great tool. I can cut it off for a role or shrink it or style it blown out, and I really love experimenting with it on the red carpet.
BNS: How so? How does having natural hair work as a tool? Does it differ significantly from your relaxed texture or wearing a wig or weave?
Lala Akindoju: ‘ I think it helps my uniqueness. It’s soft and easy to manoeuvre. My texture is also very obedient. So my stylist can manipulate it as much as we need to. I also look much younger with my natural hair. And it helps that when I’m outside the country my natural hair is a great conversation starter.
BNS: How did you feel about your hair when you were growing up? And do you feel differently about it now
Lala Akindoju: Lovedddd it. My hair was long and beautiful. Still is sha. When shrinkage is not showing me pepper [laughs]
BNS: Even when it was relaxed?
It was long and beautiful when it was relaxed.
BNS: What’s styling it like now – especially when you are between roles?
I keep it simple. Cornrows or twists. I don’t have the energy or inclination to self style to be honest.
BNS: Did you find it hard to get a stylist who understood your natural hair? And are you 100% committed to growing it out now?
Lala Akindoju: Not at all. There are many talented natural hair stylists. And I am a 1000% committed to growing it out, till it’s in its full glory – as long and gorgeous as it can possibly be.
BNS: Have you ever felt pressure to change your hair, either for an audition or for a role?
Lala Akindoju: Not really. There are wigs and ways to manipulate stuff now. Actually, I find that more directors are asking me to use my natural hair for roles. I’m also committed to communicating that an African woman can be beautiful and glamorous with her natural, un-straightened hair, just as much as in a wig or weave. That’s why I’m doing my best to rock my hair on red carpets and at events or at least a natural hair look with pieces for volume.
BNS: What are your go-to hair products?
Nature’s Gentle Touch. Their Tea Tree anti-dandruff line for my natural hair has been a lifesaer. I’ve used that for about 3 years. Also because dandruff was a disease I was dealing with [laughs], but the products have helped a great deal. For my braids or twists my hairstylist usually grabs some Darling bulk extensions aka ‘attachment’ .
BNS: Has fame changed you at all?
Lala Akindoju: Naahh. I doubt it. And I’m very conscious of not losing myself to fame. Even though fame comes with paying more attention to certain things.
BNS: Things like?
Lala Akindoju: Things like being camera ready, getting the right angles on the red carpet, especially with clothes. I also can’t give every single person my personal number anymore [laughs].
BNS: Do you think [natural hair] is a trend?
Lala Akindoju: I think so, but it will evolve -especially as representation is now so important. Showing younger girls of colour they can be beautiful with their natural hair is crucial. And I’m loving how seriously a lot of us are taking the message.
BNS: Trends come and go – do you believe this is one that’s here you to stay or people will move on to something newer and shinier?
Lala Akindoju: I think it’s here to stay
BNS: What have you learnt from your stylist about taking care of your natural hair?
Lala Akindoju: Moisture is key! In between hair appointments I make sure I keep my scalp oiled and I use a leave-in conditioner daily. I also make time to steam and deep condition once a month at the very least.
BNS: Why did you start the natural hair series?
Lala Akindoju: First I loved the hairstyles from my childhood and I felt like a lot of younger girls don’t know the these hairstyles. Plus I was a little nostalgic -missing the days when we were younger and things just seemed simpler and easier. I also wanted to encourage people to be confident with these hairstyles people call ‘razz’.
I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions to it, people actually responded really positively and some even told me they’d tried some of the styles out or planned to. Also – it’s really hot. ‘Not everytime wig’! [laughs].
BNS: What are your fave protective styles? You’ve mentioned wigs and weaves – Do you braid or is it always in diff cornrow styles?
Lala Akindoju: Twists are my fave especially because I can put them up and do twist outs later. I’m also really into braids and cornrows with extensions at the moment.
BNS: When you went natural did you transition or was it a big chop situation?
Lala Akindoju: Big chop ni o. I actually felt ugly and unattractive at the time but I got into it and became more confident about it.
BNS: How do you want to live out your days? What does your perfect day look like?
Lala Akindoju: A perfect day for me would be waking up in a house I own, surrounded by nature and family. Going to set or rehearsals or a meeting focused on pushing the agenda of telling the African story to the world. Coming back home to family and watching a nice movie before bed. Oh and some nice food should be in there like beans and dodo or amala and ewedu
BNS: And finally as July is #VacationGoals for us, what’s your a) First b) Best c) Dream destination and Why?
A. Rome– It’s a beautiful ancient city. I particularly love the cobblestoned streets and the buildings It’s warm at this time of the year (very, very important to me) and it has so much history.
B. Mauritius. I was supposed to have gone this year, but work didn’t let me flex. So I’m still dreaming of the place. I feel like it has such exotic vibes.
C. Niger State in Nigeria. This is a place I would really love to visit and spend some time in. Unfortunately the situation in Northern Nigeria has made a trip like this unfeasible right now, but I still really want to go. Niger has these beautiful rolling hills and breathtaking scenery. Exploring Nigeria more is a priority for me.
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