Awards Radar recently had an opportunity to talk to Nena Ross Davis, hair department head, and Stacey Morris, Anthony Anderson‘s Personal Hairstylist & Lead Men’s Barber, on Black-ish. Nena and Stacey were just recognized with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Contemporary Hair Styling for their work on season 8.
Season 8 follows beloved characters as they go through significant life changes in the final season of Black-ish.
In the interview Nena and Stacey reflected on the show throughout the season and shared insights into unique hairstyling choices they made for the final farewell with characters.
1. How did you get started in the industry?
NRD: I started cosmetology school in the 11th grade and graduated from Beauty School before I graduated high school. For the next year, eight years, I worked on perfecting my craft. Finally, through hard work and determination, I was able to join the local 706 hair and Makeup Union. From there, my career began to flourish in The entertainment industry.
SM: I started experimenting on my brothers at 12yrs old. Within 6yrs, knowledge of my skill level was achieved by then spread within the entertainment industry. That was the beginning of my unique career within the entertainment industry.
2. How long have you been involved with Black-ish, and how did you first start working on the show?
NRD: I have been involved with Black-ish for seasons 7 and 8. I received a call from the UPM on Blackish inviting me to become the New Department Head of Hair on the show, and I gladly excepted the position.
SM: I have been involved with blackish since the inception of the pilot. I started working on the show because my long time frame client & friend, Anthony Anderson, asked me to join his new venture as the male groomer for Blackish.
3. What was different about season eight compared to previous seasons in terms of hair?
NRD: The difference in Hair styling during Season 8 compared to previous seasons is that I was more creative with my styling. Naturally, the younger cast members, such as Marsai Martin, had evolved from a child into Young ladies, and I was able to do more creative styles to reflect her hair journey growth. Along with the other characters, we did a lot more trendy, innovative styling, setting the tone for the Final season. By season 8, I had much more creative freedom and an awesome new hair team that blended well with Stacey Morris, who has been on Blackish since the beginning. She was head of the male grooming department.
SM: By season 8, there were significant changes due to the pandemic experience, affecting our processes to do hair the way we used to. Because of this, a lot of times, I was limited on time & discovered new styles that could be properly implemented at that time. Organically the male cast’s hair morphed into lengths that reflected what was happening in the real world. Creatively by this time, we as artists had a little less suggestive input from Kenya Barris or the actors themselves and were given much more creative input. Also, it was our department head 2nd season & she settled into comfortably executing & running her department, making any necessary adjustments to our hair department.
4. How did you reflect generational differences in hairstyling?
NRD: Blackish was a current-day show, so naturally, we evolved with the times. As a result, our contemporary styling was on the cutting edge. We created new innovative hair styling, and we set the trend once it was seen on TV.
SM: The difference between generations was evident visually with the hair. The maturer cast had current-day styles but a little more reserved while the younger generation had more undone & longer unkempt, yet done looks like the more youthful generations now in life.
5. Throughout the show, characters matured and went through many life changes that were reflected in their looks. Whose hair journey was your favorite this season? Why?
NRD: I can’t just pick one cast member everybody had maturity in their hair looks and Journey. You can definitely tell the growth from previous seasons. I had an amazing and creative team, and we created the styles and moved through the cast’s hair journeys based on the episode. We displayed new hair looks based on the character’s need to reflect in each episode.
SM: It’s really hard to have a favorite. I truly loved the maturation of all the looks equally. However, noting the obvious, subtle nuances & levels of difficulty to achieve at times makes them all hard to compare to one another to distinguish just one favorite.
6. This season, you got to work with many special guests like Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, and more. Was there someone you enjoyed working with in particular?
NRD:We had so many amazing guests. All of them were a pleasure to be around the energy on set daily was just epic. Each guest cast brought a different type of enjoyment and great vibes to the show. It was such an honor to work with so many talented special guests.
7. What are some of your favorite hairstyling products that you used on the show?
NRD: I used Diamond drops by Sparkle Hair Import to maintain maximum shine and hair growth,
Passion fruit curl control paste by Curls, Moroccanoil finishing hair spray,
Smooth as Silk super hold Spritz, and for Tracee Ellis Ross, we used Pattern products to maintain her natural curl.
SM: black Solutions curl & twist foam, layrite pomade, sporting waves, Mvrck by Mitch, luster curl pink oil, Oasis 3 by Schwartzkopf, Kera Care detangling conditioning shampoo, unite 7 seconds detangler, Balmain Shine wax