Hair is one of the most obvious yet subtly powerful tools with which we display our identity and individuality, and this was not lost on Rihanna when it came time to discuss her character’s look for the wildly successful Ocean’s 8 where she plays the tech wiz Nine Ball.
According to the Wild Thoughts singer’s hairstylist Yusef Williams in an interview with Refinery 29, Riri specially locs on Nine Ball as she wanted to visually represent her Afro-Caribbean roots in the movie, which also stars actresses Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Dakota Fanning, rapper Awkwafina, and a host of other multi-talented stars.
“Her locs would maintain that tie to Africa. She’d keep her accent. She wasn’t just going to be some American girl in this movie,” Williams said.
“Nine Ball is still a Caribbean girl that just happens to be in America.”
Ahead of filiming, Williams said Rihanna met with Ocean’s 8 director Gary Ross to discuss her character’s look and feel, adding that production gave them “a lot of freedom” to play with her character’s look.
“We wanted this girl to be cool, chill, and very minimal,” he said, but added that Rihanna was especially particular about her character’s hair.
“When people have locs, it’s kind of like their crown. It’s their pride and joy. It’s like a flower…You gotta nourish it and watch it grow,” Williams said, before adding, “Hair played a really big part in who Nine Ball came to be.”
There’s even an iconic meme about her character’s hairstyle, when images of the cast shooting the movie first made rounds on the Internet last year, and so many black women were able to relate.
Rihanna understands how representation for black girls everywhere matters; whether it’s through her music or the roles in movies she’s in. And as black women’s natural, protective hairstyles still inconceivably receive flak in some settings, every push toward making it acceptable is vital.
Ocean’s 8 opened last week, beating the opening figures of all other movies in the franchise, making more than $41.5 million on its opening weekend.