Jada Pinkett Smith says an interaction with her hairstylist on the 1996 Eddie Murphy comedy The Nutty Professor is why the movie was “the last time I didn’t have my own hairstylist.”
During Smith’s latest Red Table Talk episode, the Matrix Reloaded and Girls Trip star said that while working on the film where she played Carla Purty, the love interest to Murphy’s nerdy and kind-hearted academic, Sherman Klump, they put her in bad wigs that illustrated how little the film’s stylists knew about Black hair.
“They put me in some crazy wigs for sure, where people didn’t really know enough about Black hair to know how to make wigs and what the wigs should look like,” she recalled.
Pinkett Smith told the table that the experience was a “rough one” because “the woman who made this wig, she missed the mark,” speaking to one of the wigs she wore in the movie. Pinkett Smith went on to explain that the reason her wigs looked so bad during the film was that the stylist straightened most of the hair, but not the roots.
That decision was something the actress said she pushed back on, but that the hairstylist ultimately carried out due to her uneducated assumption that Black women don’t have smooth roots when they wear straighter styles.
“She thought that the roots should be not smooth, but the hair should be straight,” Pinkett Smith recalled. “She was like, ‘Well, usually for Black women, you don’t have straightened roots.’ And I said, ‘Oh no, we do. We either straighten it with a hot comb or we perm it.’ But she didn’t believe me. So, she made it with roots that weren’t straight, but the hair was.”
The experience made her finally decide to get her own stylist, Pinkett Smith said. “That was the last time I didn’t have my own hairstylist,” she concluded.