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Lack of options for Black women’s natural hair in N.S. leads to film

Director Juliet Mawusi on new short at Halifax Black Film Festival

2 min read
caption Juliet Mawusi at the Atlantic International Film Festival (FIN), September 2021.
Laura Koshekova

The Halifax Black Film Festival is returning to the city for the seventh time, with in-person and online screenings.

It runs Feb. 24-28. 

My Type of Hair is a short film directed by Juliet Mawusi. It will be screening downtown on Feb. 25 at Cineplex Park Lane at 7 p.m. 

Background: Mawusi, 24, is a co-host for CKDU FM 88.1. She said she got into filmmaking in her final year of NSCC’s radio television journalism program, where she directed her first short film, Being Black in the Nova Scotian Music Industry. 

Ingenuity: Inspiration comes from Black communities and within. “Most of the time we don’t get the representation we deserve,” she said. “We don’t get the voices that we deserve.”

DIY hair: When she moved to Nova Scotia in 2017 from Ghana, finding someone to do her hair was impossible.

“I had to literally go to YouTube and learn how to do my own hair,” she said. “Because every salon that I entered at that time told me they don’t fix my kind of hair.” 

Research led her to learn many Black women in Nova Scotia have to do their hair from home. 

“It was just a struggle,” she said. “I realized that when people go to cosmetology school, they don’t get the opportunity to learn about Black hair. It was just recently that they produced courses that people can actually take to fix that type of hair.” 

History: The film is about the origin of Black beauty. It depicts the struggle for Black women from slavery to today to keep their natural hair.

You know when the slave masters came to Africa to kidnap our ancestors, they picked them as they were. They were not allowed to bring anything with them, so nothing to care for their hair,” Mawusi said. “So caring for their hair in a foreign land in North America, in America, it was impossible.”

Social change: “You know the saying that goes, ‘a little drop of water makes a mighty ocean’?” she said. “I want my films to add to the many voices that are constantly crying for change.”

Boost: The Being Black in Halifax series is returning to the festival with films from three other artists.

“I like the fact that the series creates opportunities for emerging Black filmmakers,” she said. “They create a platform. I like that because not all of us can get that opportunity. Sometimes we do it, but we don’t get that platform. It’s always the high-target people in the industry.”

Links: The festival is a chance for connection and mentorship among artists but also has the opportunity to show another side of Halifax. 

“When you come you are not only going to know something new about the city that you’ve lived in for all these years,” she said. “But also you are going to get entertained.”

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Ella Macdonald

Ella Macdonald (she/her) is an aspiring video reporter and photojournalist with an interest in world affairs and health reporting. Originally...

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