Hype Chat: ‘Anatomy of Black Love’ Creator Jennia Fredrique-Aponte Talks Celebrating Black (Hair) Excellence

Photo Credit: Ray Andrews

You may not know Jennia Fredrique-Aponte by name, but chances are you have seen her face. On television. In movies. On billboards. And in anything related to Black hair. Her picture used to be one of the first to appear in a Google search on “African American hair.” Companies have even made and named wigs after her own hair creations, while some just steal her likeness.

Her acting credits go back as far as the late ’90s with television appearances on The Hughleys, One On One, My Wife & Kids, Half & Half, and Passions. But after growing tired of being typecast, she decided to create roles that allowed her to celebrate all aspects of her Black girl (and hair) magic. 

Now, she runs production company Full Frequency Media with her husband Sol Aponte, to bring their voices and visions to life. Their projects have included a celebrity interview series, two full-length films and, most recently, a series collaboration with REVOLT TV celebrating Black excellence.

Here, we talk about her journey towards loving her hair and creating space for Black girl magic (and Black boy joy).

HYPE HAIR: You’ve enjoyed a lasting career in entertainment. How did you go from acting to writing, directing and producing?
JENNIA FREDRIQUE-APONTE: I began writing when I was seven years old. As a kid, I always wanted to act, and it came easily to me, so that’s what I went for in my teens. As I began to grow as a storyteller, I became increasingly frustrated with the roles I was being offered (the girlfriend, the fiancée), so I started to take my writing more seriously. 

It was scary at first, but the most satisfying career choice I have ever made. Directing allows me to flex every one of my creative muscles: storytelling, production design, fashion, and hair. I often call my first film, Sacred Heart, my Prince album because much like Prince, I wrote it, starred in it, did hair, makeup, costume design, and production design. And we shot it in my favorite city—Paris.

HH: Why is it important to be behind the camera? 
JENNIA: As a woman of color, stories for us, and by us, are essential. My goal behind the camera is to tell stories that not only elevate but educate us. 

 Jennia Fredrique-Aponte
Photo Credit: Guy Viau

HH: Does that have any impact on how you approach hair and makeup for your actors?
JENNIA: Sometimes, we underestimate the power Hollywood has. In terms of hair, my second film, 90 Days, stars gorgeous Teyonah Parris, and it was imperative for me that she rocked a natural look. There is no conversation about Black women, or even Black culture, that doesn’t include Black hair. 

HH: Your latest project, Anatomy of Black Love, premiered in February in collaboration with Sean “Diddy” Combs. What inspired it? 
JENNIA: The “Anatomy Series” began with a documentary centered around phenomenal women of color [Anatomy of a Queen]. With its success, REVOLT asked us to create five more. 

Each one is essentially about Black excellence and covers various topics from fatherhood and art to street fashion. The themes we are exploring are centered around my purpose, which is to uplift and, ultimately, to tell the truth about the beauty of my people. 

HH: We’re loving your hairstyle. What has your hair journey been like?
JENNIA: As a young girl, I wanted straight hair like Halle Berry and Robin Givens. I watched the movie Boomerang and wanted to look like [them]. Before that, it was every White girl I came across. Their hair blew in the wind; they could run their hands through it. That’s what I wanted, and no one could convince me otherwise. Not having naturally straight hair and wanting it wasn’t very easy. The fact that society has us feeling like our hair is a political statement is not only difficult, it’s unfair.

From pressing combs in the kitchen to harsh relaxers, my thick hair was in a constant state of damage. 

After some serious breakage [and some inspo from Janet Jackson], the solution was simple: braids. Then I moved to the West Coast, the land of weave and palm trees. [The late] Eric Foreman [Aaliyah’s hairstylist] gave me my very first weave, and I was hooked. If I couldn’t afford to get my hair done, I would borrow the money. If I couldn’t borrow the money, I would make a bill wait so that I could get my hair done. It was not a game!

Now, I have been on every possible hair journey—weaves, braids, natural, straight, curly, wavy, wigs, and even locs. 

HH: So, when did you start loving your own hair? 
JENNIA: I fell in love with my hair the moment I made a decision to start doing it myself. It’s wonderful to have control over my own looks and not need to depend on a stylist to help me pull off a look. I feel like a magician every time I step on to a red carpet. 

HH: What was that process like?
JENNIA: My first attempt? Epic fail! I remember spending hours trying to straighten and add tracks and looking pretty bad, but I didn’t give up. Trial and error—lots of errors—led me down a glorious path of DIY. With much patience and practice, I got pretty good. Even Eric gave me props!

HH: Now that you do your own hair, what’s your go-to hairstyle?
JENNIA: Right now, I am loving my goddess locs. It’s my favorite protective style. They take me forever to do, but they last for months. 

HH: When are you happiest with your hair?
JENNIA: I’m happiest with my hair when I set out to try a new look and nail it. When you do your own hair, you end up with a ton of fails. Now, I feel like a pro at my 4B and 4C hair. I also realize that as a Black woman, there is no hairstyle that is off-limits. Black girl magic is real. 

HH: What is your hair regimen like?
JENNIA Right now, I keep my scalp oiled with a mix of coconut oil and shea butter.

HH: Any must-have products you can’t live without? 
JENNIA: I love Miss Jessie’s entire line! Also Mixed Chicks and Carol’s Daughter.

HH: What does “good hair” mean to you now?
JENNIA: Good hair means having edges! I now know that all hair is good hair, but it took me a while to get here. As a kid, I thought my 4C hair was far from good because I was constantly comparing my hair to White girls. 

When I was 12, my mom bought me my first Hype Hair Magazine, and it literally changed my life. It’s so important for girls to see themselves represented. 

Press play below to watch a trailer on Anatomy of Black Love. Visit revolt.com for more info.

About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon is founder/Black beauty directory for Sadiaa Black Beauty guide, the premier directory Black-owned beauty brands, and former digital media director for Hype Hair.