By Jena Lynde-Smith

A student documentary about the challenges faced by Black women with curly hair will be broadcast by the CBC.

Journalism students Nicole Cozzi, Juwairiya Kembo, and Maan Alhmidi covered this topic as a project for their video journalism class in December, 2019. Their short film, “Curly Hair Don’t Care,” will be featured in the Absolutely Canadian series on CBC Ottawa —  a national weekly one-hour series showcasing documentaries and performance programs that tell unique stories from communities across Canada.

Originally posted on The 25th Hour, “Curly Hair Don’t Care,” digs into the subject of curly/kinky hair, a hair type that is common in Black women.

“I am so happy this video is going to be showcased on a major Canadian news organization. Juwairiya and I worked very hard to put this video together and were really proud of the outcome,” Cozzi said.

Kembo first approached Cozzi with the idea of interviewing Paula Whitelocke, the owner of Curly Hair Designs, as her salon was one of the few that catered to specifically to curly hair.

Reporter Juwairiya Kembo gets ready for her on-camera shot inside of Curly Hair Designs.

“I had never thought about how difficult it could be for someone with very curly hair to find a hairdresser that knew how to cut and style their hair, and also wondered how many other people were in the dark like me,” Cozzi said.

The trio visited Paula Whitelocke’s Curly Hair Designs and Paula Barker’s Silkie Locks Hair Design, two salons in Ottawa that encourage women to embrace their natural locks. In the short, they interview both salon owners as well as clients.

“Back then, we were forced into believing that the euro-centric look was of beauty, we weren’t really allowed to display the pride within our hair. For many years, for many decades, for many centruries,” Whitelocke says in the film.

Whitelocke has made it her mission to understand and care for curly hair, something she said they aren’t taught a lot of in hairstyling school.

Paula Whitelocke during her interview

“We’re going across the world trying to teach people to understand these different types and textures that they may not have, may have never been exposed to, and that the schools are not exposing them to,” she says.

Voicing over the film, Kembo reiterates the significance of Whitelocke’s and Barker’s shops.

“Salons like Curly Hair Designs and Silkie Locks are important in today’s society because they encourage people to embrace their natural hair and let it show to the world,” she says.

Cozzi said she hopes to continue uncovering stories similar to this one.

“While the topic of this story was fun, it was also really eye opening, in the sense that I didn’t really realize how hard it may be for someone with hair that’s different than mine, to find a salon that knows how to style it. To be able to cover fun, but educational stories like this in the future, would be really rewarding.”

Curly Hair Don’t Care will air locally on CBC TV this Saturday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. and will also be available to stream free and on demand as of this Friday, Oct. 30, on CBC Gem.

Thursday, October 29, 2020 in ,
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