Hype Chat: Leela James Is More Than Her Hair

Leela James

Photo Credit: Courtesy

HH: Besides your afro, what kinds of looks do you rock?
LJ: I will definitely wear a protective style — especially, when I’m going to be moving around a whole lot. I definitely don’t do the whole fussing thing. I hate to get it curled. I really hate getting my hair done period. I’m over it!

HH: Why are you so over it?
LJ: Basically, I don’t like to sit still that long. I hate going to the salon. I don’t like to be under the hair dryer – it gets too hot. It’s boring. I don’t like any of it at all. I’d rather just have my hair braided or weaved up in some type of cute little thing and go on about my business. I don’t know how to use hot curlers. I can’t even flat iron my hair!

HH: That makes sense since you’ve been natural all of your life. Is it safe to say that, if you could, you’d just be a wild child?
LJ: I’d probably be walking around here look like Celie from The Color Purple. I sure would! [Laughs]

HH: Ha! So who is the stylist that’s not letting you do that?
LJ: If it’s something very, very big, some type of event, then we go and get a whole glam team for that kind of professional look . But I’m such a homebody. I’ll throw my sweats and t-shirts on and go. Ain’t nobody got time to have somebody come in my house to do my hair all the time. No, I’ll do it myself. Maybe that’s why I look a hot mess all the time!

HH: You definitely do not look a hot mess and we love seeing your giant mane. But, I did notice that you have it all covered up on your album cover. Was that intentional or a stylist’s choice?
LJ: Yes, that was intentional. I was inspired by some of the looks from the ‘70s and Diana Ross. I wanted to focus on the music and stay away from the hair, actually. That was a way of saying look at me, not necessarily my hair. Like you said, when people think of me, they think of the hair and I wanted you all to focus on the album.

HH: So, at some point it gets old, then?
LJ: I was like let me put this hood on so you just don’t see anything. But, it was also paying homage to my Black brothers and the young teenagers that, like Trayvon Martin, [have been] shot and killed because you have a hood on. It was a symbol for a lot of different things. Me staying focused on the music. Me staying focused on who we are as our individual selves versus what you might think. The perception. Just because we have our hair this way or hood on that doesn’t define who we are, the person I am. It represented a lot of different things.

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About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

isis is a music, hair and communications junkie. founder of Sadiaa and editor for HypeHair.com.