Natural Hair dilemmas in the industry and workplace

Teesha Borum, america's Next Natural Model

Teesha Borum, america's Next Natural ModelTeesha Borum, america’s Next Natural ModelTeesha Borum, America’s Next Natural Model of season 09/10 posted this on facebook. Since I recently read about a model who had this same issue, I asked her if I could re-post to see what you think.

Teesha Borum, america's Next Natural Model
Teesha Borum, america’s Next Natural Model
Teesha Borum, America’s Next Natural Model of season 09/10
Photo by Tony Smart

So I just heard an advertisement on the radio for a relaxer and it sounded sooooooooo familiar to me. I quickly realized that I was called by my agent to audition for a commercial Feb. of last year for it (Not sure if the tv commercial was made or not but the radio ad sounds similar). I actually declined the audition, even though compensation was in the thousands…after reading the script you tell me what you would have done…

Casting Specs: “STAR STUDDED”

From the top of her fabulously silky smooth and shiny hair to the tip of her latest, most fashionable shoes, the Lady is always the center of attention. She lives in the spotlight because these hair care products give her hair, and her, celebrity style. The spot opens inside a retail store where the beautiful and stylish hands of our “Star Lady” are about to grab a box of the Relaxer from the shelf. When she picks up the box, the store instantly changes to somewhat of a star-studded event. Shelves on both sides are dark and all you see are flashing lights. The aisle becomes a red carpet and you see confetti start to fall. Our woman now flaunts an entire new superstar look as she makes her way to the register. You see various shots of her flowing hair in slow motion as she continues to the register. We get a glimpse of cashier behind register who is clapping in slow motion because of this new exciting transformation. She finally gets to the register and as soon as she puts our product on the counter, the store comes back to normal. We then cut to a shot of the product in its environment.

Overall Casting Direction:
This spot will focus on showing why this Relaxer is the catalyst and reason behind anyone having fierce fabulous superstar hair, no matter who you are OR where you are. So, Get Used to the Attention™.

Woman: (Principal)
Our woman should be young & beautiful (17-20), most beautiful smile, trendsetter, stylish and socially connected. She always wants to make an impression when she’s out. Her energy should always be upbeat and believable. She should convey your average girl who is most certainly hip and fashion conscious. She is natural when she walks the red carpet to register and not stiff and couture focused.

CASHIER: (Principal)
Our Cashier is an aspiring young AA female (17-22). She wants to be the best she can be and by seeing the transformation of the woman in the aisle she gets inspired. She’s genuinely happy and shows it with her subtle gestures (slow motion clapping etc). She’s pretty but doesn’t outshine our Hero. Her happiness doesn’t outshine the hero. She is more of the backdrop in the spot.

Two African Americans. One male and one female. Ages 18-26.

AA female between (20-27). Upbeat energetic and positive. She has somewhat of a familiar voice as if it could be an actress or R&B singer. She’s excited about product and believes in what it can achieve for your average young women who aspires to have beautiful, silky-smooth superstar hair.

Casting Exclusivities:
Hero OCP (Double Scale)

1. Styling Aids (such as hair moisturizers, mousses, gels, hair oils, styling creams, hair sheen sprays, and hair holding sprays, etc….)
2. Shampoos
3. Conditioners
4. Relaxers (home & salon)

Cashier OCP (Single Scale)
1. Relaxers (home & salon)


Lauren London (ATL.) Megan Good (Friday) Letoya Luckett

  • Models must show their natural (“real”) hair.
  • Hair length preference is shoulder-length to below shoulder-length.
  • Model must be willing to relax hair with the relaxer.
  • Make sure the girls look like the type that need a relaxer so it looks believable.
  • Model must be flexible in styling of her hair.
  • Models must be willing to cut hair (more than simply a trim).
  • The cashier should not have a studded look.
  • Cashier does not have to have long hair.
    Cashier does not have to relax, but must be willing to color and cut.

SET: Inside retail store, or creating a retail store set. The focus should be more about the aisle to the register. Generic products placed in aisle until store transforms.

PRODUCTS: A few boxes of the Relaxer Kit
Possible other products. Direction Provided by client.

Teesha Borum – America’s Next Natural Model 09/10 for Bronner Bros

Now, I have done an ad before with straight hair BUT It was my natural hair, only straightened. Not a relaxer…I was promoting Bronner Brothers, “Doctor in a box” and also had my nappy natural in print as well for the same product. So I personally declined going to the audition b/c I knew that If I were cast I would be promoting the idea that having “luscious relaxed hair” is the way to go and what makes a black woman beautiful. I had recently won the America’s Next Natural Model competition at the time and did NOT want to be a hypocrite and promote relaxed hair as the way to go!!! This was my response to my agent (I happened to have had the email, which is why I still have access to the script above)


“***, I apologize for just now reading the details of the audition. I originally checked your message from my phone and am now at the computer… But i will not be going to this audition because I am not a supporter of the message it sends nor would i want to relax my hair. I just won Americas Next Natural Model 2010 and would feel lame if i went and relaxed my hair. Typically I’m fine with flat ironing my hair for ‘the look’ but, not to sell relaxers. Thank you for submitting me but hopefully another commercial opportunity opens up for me. I will call you in the morning to make sure you get this. Ttys”

The client was confused and my Agent kept calling me back trying to understand my stance, once she understood she respected my decision. But I’d love to hear your thoughts…what would you have done? What do you think about the script and what message do you think it portrays?

Don’t get me wrong…I’ll advertise wigs/weaves/braids for the right price and if its not demeaning natural hair. But this just rubbed me the wrong way…

Don’t get me wrong…I’ll advertise wigs/weaves/braids for the right price and if its not demeaning natural hair. But this just rubbed me the wrong way…Us naturals shouldn’t feel less desirable b/c we choose to wear our hair how it GROWS OUT OF OUR HEAD lol I’m dumbfounded at how this relaxed haired image is admired and encouraged in the media and in the workplace. But honestly was I too sensitive? Thanks for reading!

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