Event Report: FIA Racial Equality and Ethnic Diversity Webinar on Hair and Makeup, March 14, 2024

Racial Equality and Ethnic Diversity FIA Event Reports News

As part of its continuous commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion, FIA is organising a series of webinars focusing on racial equality and ethnic diversity (REED) and its impact on the professional lives of performers. These REED webinars are special opportunities for our members to come together and share their experience and successful strategies to make our industry more diverse and representative of our societies.

Following two initial webinars in 2020 and 2022 which addressed racial discrimination in the entertainment industry in a broader context, a new edition of the FIA REED webinar held on 14 March 2024, focused on the critical subject of Hair and Makeup. Specifically, the discussion revolved around the lack of hair and makeup services adapted to performers with darker skin and textured hair, and the actions performers’ unions can take to address this issue.

The webinar was moderated by Deena Aziz, actor, member of the National Council of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association and co-coordinator of the FIA REED Working Group.

The event opened with a poignant testimonial from Kayo Shekoni, Swedish-Nigerian singer, dancer, actor, TV presenter and member of the Scen & Film union. Kayo shared her poor experience with hair and makeup as a performer of colour working in Sweden. Over her 40-year career, she consistently found herself having to provide her own make equipment and almost systematically encountered hair professionals ill-equipped to tend to her textured hair. Shockingly, she revealed having to shave her head six times due to mishandled hair care. Kayo concluded her testimony by saying that performers should not bear the burden of educating hair and makeup professionals.

The webinar continued with a series of presentations by four representatives from performers’ unions who have worked to promote hair and makeup equality in their countries.

Jenn Paul, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at ACTRA National, outlined her ongoing organization’s efforts to fight for equity in hair and makeup. In particular, she presented ACTRA’s forthcoming Guide to Best Practices and Pledge for Achieving Equity in Hair and Makeup, which offers concrete advice to producers, talent agents and performers to promote hair and makeup equality.

Wydetta Carter, actor and first Vice-President of American Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), then shared her own experience in terms of hair and makeup as well as the strides made by her union in this area. She mentioned the adoption of the CROWN Act in 2019, which made California the first state to ban hair discrimination at work and school, and the progress made since then. She also detailed the language negotiated by the AEA on hair and makeup.

Ian Manborde, Equity UK’s Equalities and Diversities Organiser, outlined Equity UK’s initiative to survey its members to get a better idea of the type and extend of hair and makeup issues. He reported on efforts to work with the entire industry – producers, agents, hair and makeup artists, hair and makeup equipment and product manufacturers – to advance hair and make up equity. He concluded by saying that next step for Equity UK was their upcoming negotiations with producers’ trade body PACT on TV and film productions.

Finally, Michelle Hurd, actor, and member of SAG-AFTRA’s work group on hair and makeup, shared the remarkable achievements of her union on hair and makeup, including the integration of pertinent language in the recent agreement with the AMPTP. She stressed that hair and make equity transcended simple health and safety issues and was a question of dignity and respect.

For those who missed this informative event, the webinar can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

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