Nena Ross and Stacey Morris interview: ‘Black-ish’ hairstylists
The long-running ABC sitcom “Black-ish” has rarely shied away from reflecting current-day events, and the pandemic was no exception. In Season 7, the Johnsons masked up and took precautions like the rest of us, and each department of the show’s crew took advantage of the challenge, especially the hairstylist team. Department head Nena Ross and barber Stacey Morris just earned Emmy nominations for their work on “Black-ish,” which involved giving the characters a more natural, grown-out look to reflect our new reality. “People during the pandemic weren’t able to go into the salon and get their hair done,” says Morris in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “A lot of people found themselves with overgrown hair, the men with overgrown facial hair, and so I kind of took advantage of that.” Watch the full interview with Morris and Ross above.
Morris and the rest of the hair team had to adjust to the cast having to wear masks and shields, which sometimes affected the cast’s hair, and the men’s facial hair. “Me and Nena and our other teammates are always fixing what that has caused, wearing a mask and a shield and whatever else you might have on,” notes Morris. For Ross, it was imperative to go the extra mile even with the added challenges of production. “I basically put my heart and soul into every look that I did for the whole season and I tried to make sure that my team did that as well.” It was also important to Ross to have the cast feel comfortable with their hair, such as Marsai Martin, who plays Diane, and her braided hair. “I wanted to make sure that I kept it authentic, real, and true to her character, so I did a lot of adding hair accessories and yarn and thread and sometimes we added metal in her braids, twisted it around and things like that, just to give it a more current modern-day look,” states Ross.
The “Black-ish” hair team is Emmy-nominated for the episode “Our Wedding Dre,” where Pops (Laurence Fishburne) and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) get remarried. The episode is a major showcase for their work, between all the Johnsons and the numerous guest stars. “Everybody was more done, it was less like everyday styles,” explains Morris, “like when we see them just in the house.” Adds Ross, “That episode was special because everyone was there,” including Yara Shahidi as Zoey, who left the show after three seasons to star in the spinoff “Grown-ish.” Ross has worked with Shahidi extensively on “Grown-ish,” and chose to style Zoey with two buns, fishtail braids and accessories. “We just were able to have fun with the hair and just do more elegant looks and styles,” recalls Ross, of the episode.
“Black-ish” is coming to an end with the upcoming eighth season, and it will be a tough goodbye for Morris especially, who has been with the show since the pilot in 2014. “We evolved into a family,” she admits. “That’s my set family with the actors and actresses as well as us, the crew and so, it’s exciting to know we made it this far, eight seasons, syndication, but it’s sad at the same time. I have no idea what it’s going to feel like on the last day.” While Ross only just came into her position with Season 7, she still felt that warm, familial atmosphere. “It is still going to be bittersweet for me,” acknowledges Ross. “What’s going to be special is that I’m going to be there to see the show to the end, the last day, so that’s going to be awesome.”