Who is she? Nikia Phoenix
How long natural?: I’ve been natural for a year and a half.
How did your natural journey begin? I big chopped and transitioned. I wanted something funky until my hair grew out,so I cut the sides and left the top a little longer.
How was the experience from then to your journey now?:
After all this time, I finally know what my texture is. It’s been an interesting discovery. Various people had me thinking that my hair was too coarse to go natural. HA! Glad I decided to go against the grain and grow it out.
What tips do you have for newly naturals?
Experiment. Try things that you’ve never done before. Don’t fret if it’s not what you thought it would be. You can always re-style and switch it up.
What is your routine?
I am really low maintenance. The only thing I do habitually is keep my hair moisturized. And I’ve also learned that I need to rinse my hair with cold water so that my curls will kick in.
What products do you use, or what would you recommend?
The one line of products I really like hasn’t hit the market yet. It’s called Free Your Mane. I like products that hydrate my hair and define my curls without being too heavy or greasy.
If someone wants to grow their hair long, you’d tell them what?
Whatever you do, love your hair and don’t hurt it. If you want long hair, keep it nourished.
Name the main things that have kept you through your natural journey and have kept your hair growing strong and long.
If I hear or smell my hair frying, I freak out. So, I stay away from heat styling. Long before i was natural, I used to love that fresh relaxer look. You know what I’m talking about… that “I will let my scalp burn until my hair is bone-straight” look. Now I realize how flat, boring, and unhealthy it was. No more!
I love that my hair has a personality of it’s own that can’t be tamed. As long as I treat my hair well, it grows thick and beautiful.
All about the Model!
How has modeling affected your outlook on being a natural?
I guess I haven’t really thought about it. I do get noticed more on blogs for my natural hair, and I like it.
Sometimes the stresses of acting, modeling and everyday life can take a drastic toll on our tresses, how do you protect your’s and keep it in check?
I treat my hair with TLC. I know that if I’m stressed, my hair will be stressed too. So I stay away from anything that could possibly do damage to my hair. For instance: certain hairstylists. You know when you have that feeling that someone does not know how to work with your hair, but he/she insists on touching it. More likely than not, that hairstylists would probably damage my hair. I just make sure I bring my own products whenever I go on a shoot just in case.
Being a model of color sometimes has it’s limitations, and being natural does too. How do you excell past these so called hindrances in the modeling industry?
I try my hardest not to focus on the negative. The industry likes black models that fit into perfect categories. The “white girl dipped in chocolate” look is what’s popular right now. But for me, I’m the “edgy model.” In the 80s and 90s, I would have been described as “exotic.” Both words used to bother me, because I don’t wake up in the morning feeling edgy or exotic. But I have realized that those terms are an attempt to categorize an individual that can’t really be explained. So, how can someone who is undefinable be limited?
Any advice to young women and men seeking to become a model of color one day particularly with natural hair?
If you want to be a model, please be honest with yourself. This business is not for the faint hearted. If you really believe in yourself, then do everything you can short of selling your soul to make it happen. Don’t compromise yourself to the point that you’re not yourself anymore. Hold on to what makes you you, because that’s what will kick start your career in the first place.
Do you think that natural hair is professional? Why or why not?
I do think natural is professional. I’ve been having this conversation with my mom lately. She’s been conditioned to think that natural hair isn’t polished. My mom keeps saying things like “you should get a few wigs so you can be more versatile” or “do you think you’re getting less work because your hair isn’t straight?” I know that she means no harm, but she brings up some interesting points. American society has black women believing that we can’t be accepted with our kinky hair. Locs and dreads are portrayed as dirty and unkept. Afros and natural curls mean you’re making a political statement. I believe that when employers see black woman with natural hair, they feel intimidated. I guess natural hair is an unofficial sign that we are not conforming to their standards of beauty.
What do you think about others wanting to touch and or play in your hair (especially without permission)?
People are always curious about things that are foreign to them. I don’t mind someone asking to touch my hair if it’s an appropriate situation. But it’s definitely got to be someone that I know, and not a complete stranger. I’m more open to others playing with my hair now compared to when I had a relaxer.
Any particular links/books/sites etc that you find to be very helpful?
There are so many natural hair blogs that I like. The natural hair community is like one big family with a lot of different personalities. I’ve also found that talking to friends who have been natural for way longer than I have is very helpful too. It’s nice to have a support system.
How else can we keep in touch with you?