The hair and makeup in 'The Woman King' is an Ode to African artistry

The hair and makeup in 'The Woman King' is an Ode to African artistry

By Cecilia Matanatabu
Monday 26/09/2022
Viola Davis (left) as Nanisca, a grizzled general and leader of the Agojie. and John Boyega (right), the young monarch King Ghezo, star in The Woman King. [Image: Ilze Kitshoff/ Sony Pictures]

The Woman King movie is one-of-one, telling the story of the Agojie, an army of women who belonged to the African kingdom of Dahomey (present-day Benin) in the 19th century.

As a part of a society that valued gender equality, this group of women was originally formed to take on the role of elephant hunters, then later became warriors who protected their land and people. In the film specifically, General Nanisca (Viola Davis) led the army to liberate Dahomean women who were abducted by the Oyo Empire and nearly sold into the slave trade — which eventually leads to an all-out war between the two states.

With a story as profound as this, it goes without saying that there was a lot of thought and detail put behind the hair and makeup for the film. The result is a true celebration of Black womanhood in its purest, rawest, and most majestic form.

Taking from the past 5,000 years of historical African hairstyling; the strength, authenticity, and fearlessness of the Agojie was inspiration enough for head hair designer Louisa Anthony to come up with culturally and historically accurate looks.

Anthony, who has worked on numerous TV and film sets, from A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Hanging with Mr. Cooper to Black Panther and Coming 2 America, says she primarily focused on working with the actors' natural hair to create the various looks.

From cropped coils to braids, each hairstyle is in alignment with that of the original Agojie women, however, tweaks were made based on the characters’ storyline, as well as the director, writers, and actors’ input.

“The present is important, but the past is something to understand and embrace because it gives us a foundation to continue to soar,” Anthony shares with InStyle.

[Source: indiewire]

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