Socially biased beauty standards that have historically favoured light skin, straight hair, and facial features with a proximity to whiteness are inherently anti-Black, and in the context of the on-screen entertainment industry, have resulted in a reality where Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) performers often do not receive equitable treatment within the hair and makeup department.

ACTRA has been working to tackle this issue on multiple levels to achieve the overall goal of BIPOC performers having their hair and makeup needs adequately and consistently met on set.

Throughout summer 2021 and into Independent Production Agreement* (IPA) negotiations with the CMPA and AQPM that fall, ACTRA continued to push for the equitable treatment of BIPOC members in the application of hair and makeup services on set. While the CMPA and AQPM did agree to issue a joint bulletin emphasizing that producers “should” provide these services to performers, neither party would agree to the hair and makeup equity bargaining proposals made by ACTRA to resolve these issues. ACTRA made the decision to file a policy grievance in December 2021 on the basis that this inaction contravenes our IPA and Human Rights legislation.

*The IPA covers the engagement of performers in all film, television and digital media production in Canada (except in British Columbia, which operates under a separate collective agreement negotiated by ACTRA’s local, UBCP/ACTRA). Click here to read the Joint Bulletin issued by the AMPTP, CMPA and UBCP/ACTRA.

The Hair and Makeup Grievance Arbitration is scheduled for May 2023 and ACTRA will continue working to gather evidence on this topic leading up to that date.

If you are an ACTRA member who would like to submit a lived experience story on this topic, please click here:

We recognize that sharing past traumas can be triggering and encourage members to utilize their mental health benefits through AFBS, or reach out to HAVEN or Calltime Mental Health should you need to to seek counselling. If you are submitting an experience regarding a set that you are currently working on, please contact your local Branch Representative and cc Jenn Paul (jpaul@actra.ca), Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, so it can be addressed appropriately with the production.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ACTRA’S FIGHT FOR EQUITABLE HAIR AND MAKEUP:

What is ACTRA seeking in the policy grievance?
  • Full redress for its BIPOC members, including compensatory and punitive damages.
  • All productions be ordered to cease and desist from violating the human rights legislation and the IPA.
  • All hairstylists and makeup artists on IPA productions be adequately trained and able to work with all performers, regardless of skin tone, facial structure and hair texture. Where there is a lack of training or ability, then a hair and/or makeup professional with the requisite skill set for serving Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour must be engaged by the producer to assist.
  • Producers must advise the hair and makeup professionals engaged on the production of diverse cast in advance and must provide the appropriate products and equipment to be used.
  • Performers shall not be required to use their own hair or makeup products and/or equipment in any circumstances.
  • Performers who are forced to procure and/or use their own hair or make-up products or equipment be compensated appropriately.
I'm a Performer, how can I help?
  • Share your lived experience with ACTRA, to support the evidence collection for the grievance that ACTRA has filed against the CMPA & AQPM.
  • Speak up for your colleagues when you witness them receiving inequitable hair and makeup treatment.
  • Contact ACTRA (or HAVEN, if after hours) when you witness harassment or discrimination taking place on set.
  • Share this page, the articles and panel discussions listed on it to help educate members of the industry and keep this topic top of mind for industry decision makers.
  • Add your name to Jill Andrew's "Protect Our Crowns" petition calling on the Government of Ontario and Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to mandate culturally responsive-training, specific to Black and textured hair in hairstyling education and practice across Ontario.
I’m a Producer or Department Head, how can I help?
  • Hire qualified crew to adequately take care of your cast. Ask the right questions during the hiring process, and be specific about the needs required of the cast when confirming qualifications. Don’t just rely on resume credits. Ask for portfolio photos of the hair styles and textures your production will be featuring. Ask them to provide references of BIPOC performers that they have worked on who can vouch for their work.
  • Ensure that the hired stylists have the right tools to do their jobs effectively. Ask about their kit and if they have the necessary products and equipment to adequately service your cast, or if they require additional kit fees to round out their tools and products appropriately.
  • Budget appropriately for the department. Will your cast need to be compensated for additional processing time outside of their expected workday? Will your stylists need to purchase any additional tools or products? Will you need to book additional dailies for days where complex styles might need additional help?
  • Remember that it is your responsibility to uphold a work environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. Read the Joint Hair and Makeup Bulletin for reminders for best practices for ensuring hair and makeup equity on your set.
I’m a Director/Writer, how can I help?
  • Ensure that the characters are being portrayed authentically – especially regarding their hair and makeup looks. Read the directives published in the Being Seen Reports and consider if your depiction of the character might perpetuate any harmful stereotypes. Is the hairstyle you’ve chosen a realistic choice given the activities the character will be taking part in?
I’m an Assistant Director, how can I help?
  • Fix it in Prep. Don’t forget to speak with the Director and Hair and Makeup team to ensure that you have a fulsome understanding of the hair and makeup needs (and associated in-chair times) for the production.
  • Build adequate time into the schedule for the hair styles and makeup that is required of the characters. The reality is that some hair and makeup styles require significantly more time than others. This needs to be communicated about in advance and scheduled accordingly to ensure that performers and stylists are not being rushed due to poor planning.
I’m a Hairstylist, how can I help?
  • Communicate with the talent in advance of the production. Make sure that you fully understand their unique needs before arriving to set, so that you can prepare accordingly to have the correct equipment and products with you to meet their needs to the best of your ability.
  • Communicate with the Producer and your Department Head - especially if the performer might be required to do any special washing or preparation of their hair that may require additional compensation for them, or if you need to purchase additional items for your kit.
  • Communicate with the Assistant Director – be sure that they know exactly how long you will need to style each performer so that they can schedule the day accordingly.
  • Don’t take things personally. Many BIPOC performers have grown accustomed to years of getting to set and finding a hairstylist who either doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to style their hair, or have been through traumatic experiences on set where their hair has been permanently damaged. It will take time, effort, and patience to heal this trauma and rebuild the trust that has been lost. Please be understanding of this and don’t take things personally.
  • Participate in ongoing training and development. Seek out opportunities to up-skill and improve your ability to work on all hair textures.
I’m a Makeup Artist, how can I help?
  • Communicate with the talent in advance of the production. Make sure that you fully understand their unique needs before arriving to set, so that you can prepare accordingly to have the correct equipment and products with you to meet their needs to the best of your ability.
  • Communicate with the Producer and your Department Head - especially if you need to purchase additional items for your kit to best suit the skin tones and types you will be working on.
  • Communicate with the Assistant Director – be sure that they know exactly how long you will need to work on each performer so that they can schedule the day accordingly.
  • Don’t take things personally. Many BIPOC performers have grown accustomed to years of getting to set and finding a makeup artist who is inexperienced in working with their skin tone or facial structure, or doesn’t have the correct range of makeup shades for their skin. Many have had traumatic experiences on set that have resulted in them feeling as though they need to bring their own personal products with them, in case the makeup artist is ill-equipped. It will take time, effort, and patience to heal this trauma and rebuild the trust that has been lost. Please be understanding of this and don’t take things personally.
  • Participate in ongoing training and development. Seek out opportunities to up-skill and improve your ability to work on all skin tones and facial structures.

ACTRA Panel Discussions

The Future of Equity in Hair and Makeup, featuring Roger Cross, Maya Macatumpag, Angela Moore, Karla Laird, and Viv Leacock (June 2022)
Protecting Our Crowns: BIPOC Performers, Hair and Industry, hosted by MPP Jill Andrew and featuring Dalmar Abuzeid, Alicia Richardson, Alicia Payne and Aisha Boubacar (March 2022)
Shaping Black Characters on Screen: Hear from Canada’s Top Black Hair and Makeup Pros, featuring Khaleiah Cunningham, Roxanne DeNobrega, Julia Carter, Mariah Inger and moderated by Deanna Cadette (February 2022)
Hair and Makeup Equity in the Film & Television Industry, featuring Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, Samantha Kaine, TK Prentice-Cupid, Sharon Lewis, Peggy Kyriakidou, Angela Mastronardi and moderated by Lisa Michelle Cornelius (February 2022)

Media Coverage and other updates

Ontario MPP Jill Andrew presents a motion at the Ontario legislature with an accompanying petition to have the curriculum at hair schools amended to include textured hair. The motion was passed on March 10, 2022.

Championing Inclusion on our Film & TV Sets, by Vinessa Antoine (October 2021) 

International Discourse on Hair & Makeup Equity

SAG-AFTRA: The Business Online: Hair and Makeup Equity — Changing the Industry Standard, featuring Randy Sayer, Camille Friend, Julie Plec, Paul Garnes and moderated by DeVon Franklin (May 2021)
SAG-AFTRA: Navigating Equity and Inclusion in Hair and Makeup, featuring Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Jason George, Michelle Hurd and moderated by David White (November 2021)

The CROWN Act: The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or bantu knots in the United States.