To say that T’Keyah Crystal Keymah is multi-talented is an understatement. She is a performer, writer, author, producer, director, and public speaker. T’Keyah has performed on stage, television and film, and is also a philanthropist. Whether you remember her from the Emmy Award winning comedies like “In Living Color” and “The Cosby Show” or the longest running series in Disney Channel’s history, “That’s So Raven,” aside from her remarkable talents, you will definitely not forget her beautiful head of natural hair.

She also wrote and self-published a book containing simple, step-by-step instructions on maintaining natural hair called Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey at a time when natural hair books were a rare find. If you haven’t read it, it’s definitely one to add to your beauty books shelf.

T’Keyah Crystal Keymah took time out from her busy schedule to share her growing hair journey with CLUTCH!

Her natural hair journey…

Like most little Black girls of my generation, I grew up getting my hair pressed for school photos and other special occasions; and learning in the process (pun intended) that something was wrong with the natural state of my hair. I learned at my grandmother’s stove that God made Black girls less beautiful, less desirable, less acceptable than those that would grow up to grace magazine covers and such without ever getting their ears burned by a hot comb…

But with help from the gorgeous afroed images of Pam Grier, Rosalind Cash, and the like, I began to unlearn that awful myth. I think my first trip to Senegal, however cemented in me the idea that it was perfectly fine for my hair to match my face and my lineage. Like my dear late great friend Ms. Cash, wearing my hair naturally cost me many jobs. But like my mentor, I have, gratefully, been able to survive and even thrive in an industry that equates nappy/kinky/coily hair with poverty and ignorance.

Her favorite styles and products:

My favorite styles are twists and ponypuffs. I experiment with many different products. At the moment, I’m using Products of the Earth, Carol’s Daughter and Namaste. I don’t have much time to surf the net, but I have seen some of the natural hair sites. It is encouraging to see that so many people are now celebrating their natural hair.

On writing her book Natural Woman/Natural Hair:

I wrote NWNH because I wished there had been such a book for me when I first went natural and, again, when I first started working in television. I also wrote it because of the fan mail that I got and still get from natural hair fans.

Her thoughts on the rise in natural hair/natural hair products:

I love it, love it, love it! It is so very important that we spread the word to our sisters, friends, mothers and daughters that there is nothing wrong with us. That we, in fact, are beautiful too! Where products are concerned, I am particularly proud of all of the Black owned natural hair care companies on the horizon. I encourage people to support the independent companies who are struggling to survive in a harshly competitive market infested with perpetrators. Read labels!!!! Everybody is not who they say they are, doing what they say they are doing.

Her advice to those transitioning and contemplating wearing their hair natural:

Be creative. Be adventurous. Be confident. Be patient.

What she’s doing now:

At the time of the interview, she was in Chicago preparing for the gospel concert, T’Keyah Crystal Keymah Salutes Gospel’s Original Diva! which took place on June 18. The concert, which celebrated the roots of gospel music (T’Keyah, herself, singing songs by the great gospel divas), kicked-off the Black Music Month Gospel Trade Symposium in Chicago.

“After that I will go back to the screenplay on which I have been working for a while, as well as another music project. I may also do a play this summer,” she added.

More T’Keyah:

Website: tkeyah.com




Facebook Fan Page: TKeyah-Crystal-Keymah

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  • ayomide

    love her hair!!! and her but her book was a disappointment to me.

  • ennui

    Good for her. Natural hair isn’t for everyone.

    I’ve been happy to be nappy for nearly 20 years. :)

  • mimi

    uhmm, I like this whole interview, except for the intro into her thoughts growing up. what does she mean “I learned at my grandmother’s stove that God made Black girls less beautiful, less desirable, less acceptable than those that would grow up to grace magazine covers and such without ever getting their ears burned by a hot comb…”

    I kind of comprehend that she’s trying to say that the media (I’m guessing during her time) was in favor of placing only a certain woman on covers and such, but it’s very heinous pertaining that she learned “God made black girls less beautiful”. What are you trying to say?! That’s nothing encouraging and simply untrue. Her thoughts were insulting and very disturbing while reading the interview. And even though her actions of celebrating her natural/organic hair/regimes is ultimately beautiful, I was hoping that a question or a voluntary dismissal of her previous thoughts growing up, would be compared and contrasted in her own words.

    • Hey Mimi – she was actually talking metaphorically – that by being made to sit at her grandmother’s stove to get her natural hair straightened by a hot comb suffering through burns and all – made her feel that “God made Black girls less beautiful …”.

      I understand what she means, she is not saying this to be unencouraging but to send a message to parents/guardians – making our little girls sit under a burning hot comb/enduring potentially harmful relaxing treatments at such a young age – sends this message to them – that their hair is not pretty – it needs to be ‘fixed’ i.e. straight to look pretty.

  • I always admired her when I was a young girl watching In Living Color. She always stood out with her locs.

  • She was one of my inspirations to go natural.