Thandie Newton, who played Olanna in the highly acclaimed movie adaptation of Chimamamnda Ngozie Adiche‘s novel, Half of A Yellow Sun, recently revealed that her curly hair was not always accepted. She had attended a school in Cornwall that was run by nuns, and told The Sunday Telegraph Newspaper how they would not allow her take school pictures because they thought her natural hair was too ‘ghetto’.
The British actress also recalled how she was always singled out by the nuns for looking different. She said,
“My mum braided my hair – for her it was the neatest, prettiest style, the equivalent of having your hair freshly cut and styled”. “I went to the best school in town, which was run by nuns, and they wouldn’t let me have my photo taken because of my hair”. “I think they thought it was a bit ‘ghetto’, though we didn’t really know what that meant. It was absolutely not ‘ghetto’. The next day my mum went into the school. I don’t know what was said, but I had my photo taken.”
Thandie’s mum is Zimbabwean.
Thandie also admits that, even though she loves her natural hair now, she had it relaxed as soon as she was old enough and many years after because it was what people wanted.
“There were layers and layers of low self-esteem attached to these early experiences, and I continued to have very low self-esteem for years”. “So as soon as I could I had my hair professionally ‘relaxed’ with chemicals to make it ‘normal’, and it stayed straight until only a few years ago. It was how Hollywood wanted my hair too”.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Keven Winter