Belfast Telegraph

Samira Wiley: Cutting off my hair was really symbolic

Actress Samira Wiley is pleased to see lots of African American women embracing their natural hair.

Orange is the New Black's Samira Wiley has no regrets over chopping off her hair, as she saw it as a new beginning.

The 28-year-old actress plays Poussey Washington in the hit Netflix series about a women's prison. Her short afro hair is as synonymous with the character as it is in real life for Samira, who chopped off her long locks when she attended prestigious performing arts college the Juilliard School, and she has never looked back.

"I've had my hair short for a really long time - it's been nine years," she told lifestyle website MIMI. "Before I cut it, I had long hair that was everything from permed to straight. I remember when I got into Juilliard - which was just crazy to me, that I would be studying at a school like that - the choice to cut all my hair off was really symbolic for me. It felt like I was making the choice to have a new beginning. It's the same really for a lot of African American girls at that age - you see a trend of them going back to their natural hair - that was definitely what I was chasing at that time. And I didn't really go back (to long hair) because it felt so good."

That doesn't mean Samira is against growing her hair in the future, and after trying on a variety of wigs for the site's accompanying photo shoot, she is excited at the prospect of switching up her look when Orange is the New Black comes to an end.

"I am looking forward to whenever the show comes to a close - whenever that is - to be able to have another one of those new beginnings," she continued. "I'm looking forward to growing my hair, and doing different things with it."

Samira credits her mother and older sister for helping her look evolve over the years as they have always inspired her to experiment. "My mom is super fabulous, and I remember her telling me at 13, 'You can start wearing make-up now,'" she recalled. "And the funny thing is, I didn't take her up on it. I don't wear it on an everyday basis, because I like my skin to breathe."

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