While “Batman” and “Elvis” led the Make-up and Hairstylists Guild noms with three apiece, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hair department head Camille Friend’s nomination could have been a precursor to her Oscar nom. She could also make history by becoming the third Black hair department
head to win an Academy Award for hair and makeup. (Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson won earlier for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”).
Friend, who counts “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Pt. 1&2” and the 2019 “Black Panther” among her credits, is aware of the significance of her nominations.
“I thought about all the little Black girls, Latina girls and Asian girls. They can look at me and say, ‘Oh, I don’t just have to work in a salon. I don’t have to work behind a makeup counter. I can do this; I can get a nomination at the Academy Awards, and that’s the beautiful part about it.”
For “Wakanda Forever,” she crafted upward of 300 wigs and looks for the sequel.
Friend began with the main players. She wanted to look at the characters of Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and where they would be a year after their king T’Challa had died.
“In West African culture they would have shaved their heads,” she says. “So, it was looking at what that would look like.” She kept Ramonda’s platinum hair color and shortened it.
“I gave her a crown-like style, so her hair had to be out because I wanted to mimic the looks of what costume designer Ruth Carter was creating with her headpieces.”
This approach enabled the styles to seamlessly fit the crowns that Carter had designed for the queen of Wakanda.
As for Shuri, Friend also wanted to show an evolution. She sported a shaved hair down the sides and in
the back with added texture and a twisted look. “In the first one, Shuri was a kid and a scientist. In this, she took on the personal responsibility of her brother’s death. She has become a real woman and leader, and those were the things that gave me the motivation of what we wanted her to look like.”
Her approach for Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Nakia, was to use locs. Says Friend, “Her head wasn’t shaved because she was away from Wakanda, she had taken off and was living her own life. She was growing and transcending. So, we grew her hair out, but still kept that beautiful red color.”
The sequel expands beyond the kingdom of Wakanda and into the Atlantis-type waterworld of Talokan. That meant the entire crew and Friend had to build creations that would work underwater. Research and development were key for her when it came to testing how hairstyles would hold up. The one thing she knew was that once the actors were immersed in the set’s water tanks, any styling product — be it gel, spray or oil, would turn the water cloudy.
“We did a lot of testing,” says Friend. “We figured out that glue hairspray by Ken Diaz [‘Emancipation’] was key. We took his glue and thinned it out with alcohol and made it into this hairspray.”
Friend reveled in the idea of establishing looks for the Talokan and Dominique Thorne’s “Ironheart.”
“It was great to be able to set her up. [Director] Ryan [Coogler] was adamant about what Black girls did in college. I said, ‘Black girls wear braids. That’s what we do. We can braid each other’s hair, they are low cost and they last a long time. That’s why we want to give her braids,’” says Friend behind her decision.
WHAT: 10th annual Make-up and Hairstylists Guild Awards
WHEN: Feb. 11
WHERE: Beverly Hilton