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TV hair and make-up artists can’t cope with us, say black actors

Some actors are being asked to bring their own make-up. Photo: Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock Some actors are being asked to bring their own make-up. Photo: Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock
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Black actors are being asked to do their own hair and take their own make-up onto television sets, because productions are not adequately equipped to work with them.

This is the claim of Equity’s ethnic minority councillor, Peggy-Ann Fraser, who has won the union’s backing to have the issue explored with other entertainment trade bodies.

Fraser said make-up and hair teams on TV dramas lacked the training to work with black and minority ethnic talent, and said some actors were being told to have their hair cut off set. They are also being asked to bring their own make-up, because make-up artists do not have the right shades of foundation to use on them.

“When I work on a set, most of the time they do not have experience doing Afro hair. Sometimes they try and work around it, but most of the time they will put you in a scarf or suggest you get your own hair cut,” Fraser said.

Fraser also referenced the experience of a fellow black actor, who she said had been told to bring her own make-up on to a set.

“It makes you feel unwelcome. They are not experienced, and it feels unprofessional. You don’t feel part of a production or included,” she said, adding that production teams needed to start ensuring that a number of their hair and make-up artists were adequately trained. She said that employing black talent in this area would also help the situation.

Fraser recently put a motion before the Equity council, in which she said it had “become clear to me that hair and make-up teams are challenged by dealing with Afro hair and black skin”.

Equity councillors backed the motion, which called on the union to raise the issue with other unions in the entertainment field.

A spokesman for Equity said the union would we will discuss it with fellow bodies “inside the Federation of Entertainment Unions to share experience and discuss any joint action that may be taken”.

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