Hype Hair: How do you care for your hair and how do you feel about extensions or wigs?
DeWanda Wise: Wigs have been a Godsend for me. When I was starting out, I would style my hair for each character and audition. Now I just don’t have the time. These days, when I’m in between projects, I keep my hair braided in cornrows so that I can switch it up at a moment’s notice. Also…I just really, really like to change styles. Randy Stodghill is my hair soulmate, and I have him to thank for most of my (many) red-carpet styles.
HH: Your hair change-ups have definitely made you one of our hair crushes. What are some of your favorites?
DW: I love having natural hair; one of my favorite things about it is that it’s a lot like sculpture. My favorite styles embody that: fauxhawks, huge natural top buns, even protective styles like braids and goddess locs.
HH: What products do you use on your hair that our readers can find?
DW: Cantu products. Basically, all of them!
HH: What are your top five cosmetic must-haves?
DW: I’m such a black girl, it’s silly. Coconut oil for hair and skin; raw shea butter; Trader Joe’s sunscreen; Victoria’s Secret minty shine lip gloss; and tea tree oil for blemishes.
HH: How do you keep your skin so lovely?
DW: Oh, I guess I just answered that, haha! I also follow a plant-based diet, andI drink plenty of water—pretty much everyone’s answer all the time. My mom had her makeup done for the first time recently, though, and her artist complimented her skin too…Momma Margie does none of the above, so it’s also largely genetic, I believe.
HH: How would you describe your fashion style?
DW: Like with my hair, it really depends on the mood. Sometimes I’m feeling very Betty Homemaker and love a good A-line dress; other times I like to see just how much skin I can show without being arrested for public indecency. Outside of events, I’m basically Denzel in real life— like…where are my sweatpants.
HH: How do you pull a head-to-toe look together when you’re really short on time?
DW: I keep it simple. I know my body well, and I have a list of things that I know will work. I have my favorite outfits, and there’s definitely a very mix-and-match situation in my closet. For special events, I just make sure I have a few backup dresses, fresh from the dry cleaners.
HH: What is the source of your inspiration?
DW: Inspiration is something you’ve gotta keep fresh and I find it everywhere. I read a ton, I love museums. My friends send me articles about conversations we have. When it comes to my work, there’s never a shortage of inspirations and things that excite and speak to me when it’s time to tell the stories I want to tell.
HH: Do you have any special advice you can share for breaking through life’s challenges?
DW: Take a deep breath and ask for help. I was struggling to make it through college, you know. There was no one in my family to cosign on a loan for me, so, financially, I was on my own. I remember reaching out to my classmates to tell them I wouldn’t be able to complete my studies and the mother of a friend cosigned on a loan for me. She said she had seen me in a show and couldn’t stomach the thought of me quitting. I’ve had many, many instances of that kind of miraculous grace and it came from humbling myself again and again to ask for what I needed.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Hype Hair January 2018 issue.