Remember in 2015 when #OscarsSoWhite was trending? Well, while there are still strides to be made, last night's (April 25) show was a breath of fresh air for the POC community in the non-actor categories. We specifically want to shout out hairstylists Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson who made history at the 93rd Academy Awards. The duo became the first Black women to win the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category for their work on Netflix'sMa Rainey's Black Bottom (alongside makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera). The film stars Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman, but last night the ladies were the stars on stage accepting the award with a speech that recognized their ancestors and the other underserved female groups.
#Oscars Moment: Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, and Jamika Wilson win for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (@MaRaineyFilm). pic.twitter.com/K2BrYmsC7a— The Academy (@TheAcademy) April 26, 2021
"I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied, but never gave up," Neal said in a now-epic acceptance speech.
"I also stand here, as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling, with so much excitement for the future, because I can picture Black trans women standing up here. And Asian sisters. And our Latina sisters. And Indigenous women. And I know that one day, it won't be unusual or groundbreaking, it will just be normal."
Before their glass-ceiling-shattering win, they first gained buzz during nominations because, you guessed it, they were the first Black women to ever be nominated in the category as well. Viola was instrumental in making sure that the essence of the real-life Ma Rainey—dubbed the "Mother of the Blues"—wasn't lost.
"She wanted someone who could style her hair and handle it," Wilson told NPR. "African-Americans are familiar with both types of hair, y'know? We just don't do one texture of hair. We can do it all. And by actors now speaking up and saying that they want someone who can handle their hair, they have to bring an African-American hairstylist because there's not very many Caucasian hairstylists that feel comfortable doing African-American hair."
Below are fun facts from the magic behind Viola's hairstyling on-set and the careers of the ladies responsible for that magic.
This is not Mia Neal's first time at the hair rodeo. Before she was Ma Rainey's hair department head, Neal was known for her work on The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and Uncut Gems (2019). Plus, she already had an Emmy nomination under her belt for Outstanding Hairstyling For A Single-Camera Series - 2019. She's also been widely recognized before having received a BAFTA Award for Best Makeup & Hair in 2018, which she's up for again this year for her work in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Viola’s Go-To Girl
Jamika Wilson goes way back with Davis. As Viola Davis's personal hairstylist, Wilson has countless magazine covers under her belt. The two first collaborated in 2008 during press for Doubt. She later became hair department head for How to Get Away With Murder. She's currently prepping for Davis's new role as Michelle Obama in Showtime's upcoming anthology drama The First Lady. She also worked on other celebrity tresses like those of Orange Is the New Black actress Uzo Aduba.
Neal created over 100 wigs for the film, including two worn by Davis. One of these was a custom-made wig she crafted with European-imported horsehair. The story behind the process that took the actual horsehair strands to Hollywood-level hair perfection is all too real.
First, the bundles had to be rid of inactive lice eggs and manure. She explained in an interview with Vulture, that in order to not lose control of the hair, she had to build the wig before she cleaned it. Neal used a single-strand ventilation method to manipulate the thick horsehair and each time she pulled a strand through, manure and lice eggs were scraped off. Upon completion, she boiled and cleaned it noting that the smell never went away. During the boiling process, the ladies realized the hot water did more than cleanse the hair, it set the style similar to how a modern-day synthetic wig can be manipulated.
"When she passed the wig along to me, we discovered that it really holds its curl," says Wilson. "It also gives the feeling of kinky, textured hair. It was very bendable, so sometimes when there were touch-ups to do, you take your finger and roll the hair around your finger and set a curl there."
You're probably asking yourself why all this trouble? Realism. Raise your hand if you're copping horse bundles.
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Featured image via Jamika Wilson/Instagram
Jazmine A. Ortiz is a creative born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn and currently living in Staten Island, NY. She started in the entertainment industry in 2012 and now works as a Lifestyle Editor where she explores everything from mental health to vegan foodie trends. For more on what she's doing in the digital space follow her on Instagram at @liddle_bitt.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images