After years of debate in the industry and campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite and Times Up, Hollywood is finally responding to years of calls to celebrate diversity. But often, that celebration is limited to on-screen talent; the actors and actresses who walk red carpets and the hard work of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes crew deserve that same spotlight. That's starting to change.
Hair department head Mia Neal and hairstylist Jamika Wilson, who works with Viola Davis personally, took home an Oscar tonight for their hairstyling work on the set of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The two were the first Black women to be ever nominated for the award, and they are now, of course, the first to have won it.
"The recognition of my art and talent by the Academy of Motion Picture and Science is bigger than me,” Wilson told Byrdie. “It is for every young hairstylist who dreams beyond the salon chair to work on a motion picture set. It is for the young child who tells their parent they want to be a hairstylist to receive a response of, ‘That’s not a real career.’ The nomination is validation that hair styling is an art form, a craft, and a skill. It also shows every Black woman or man doing hair that we can achieve, and importantly that our talent and skill is equal and exceptional."
Neal accepted the award on Sunday night. “I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future. Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here, and Asian sisters, and our Latina sisters, and Indigenous women," she said. "And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking. It will just be normal.”
In addition to taking home a win, Wilson also styled Ma Rainey star and Best Actress nominee Viola Davis for the red carpet. She started by washing and conditioning Davis's hair, following up with a towel-dry. From there, Wilson used MATRIX Total Results Miracle Creator Multi-Benefit Treatment Spray. “It’s super versatile and has 20 beautifying benefits for the hair. It nourishes, boosts shine, adds moisture, protects against heat and more,” Wilson said.
Wilson then used a small curling iron to give Viola Davis’ hair some definition and add some texture to the style. To achieve Davis’ tapered sides, Wilson slicked back her hair using MATRIX Style Link Super Fixer Strong Hold Gel. She finished off the look with MATRIX’s Total Results High Amplify Flexible Hold Hairspray.
Successes like this are just the beginning. This barrier-breaking Oscars win is certain to open doors for Jamika Wilson and Mia Neal, and we can only hope it paves a road for the illustrious careers of so many others.