HH: How have you undergone your own style and beauty transformation throughout your teenage years?
MALIA: I have definitely found myself more curious about different styles and hair-dos over the last year. I used to wear my hair up in a slick bun all the time, but I now do all these funky hairstyles, including wearing my curls out big and proud. I would also say my style has changed in clothing over the years. I am not afraid of wearing something with patterns or trying something new anymore!
HH: How would you describe your preferred beauty routine and day-to-day sense of style?
MALIA: My preferred beauty routine seems to be on more of the natural side, but every now and then, I will put on a neon liner just to add something! My day to day sense of style is all over the place; it really depends on what the mood of the day is. One day I’ll be feeling like streetwear, and the next, I’ll be feeling like I want to go on a cottage core picnic, haha!
HH: When did you start to really love your natural hair?
MALIA: I really only started feeling comfortable with my hair when we started filming BSC because it is the first place I felt accepted as just me, hair included. I had always worn super slick buns because I did ballet daily, so it was convenient. But truthfully, I just was not as comfortable in it because I felt it would stand out too much in my community. Above all, I did not want people touching my hair – horrors! I now wear my hair big and curly all the time because I realized standing out can be so empowering!
HH: What products are your maintenance secret?
MALIA: I love Mixed Chick’s leave-in conditioner and Camille Rose’s Curl Maker gel – those two definitely keep me with low frizz! There are still so many products that I have not tried out yet, so I am still experimenting.
HH: How did you take care of your hair onset of The Baby-Sitters Club between takes and during fittings?
MALIA: While filming, I would wake up early before my call time to nourish my hair before departing for set. I would also wrap my hair at night to keep my hair moisturized and soft. In between takes of The BSC, if Mary Anne had laid edges, we would make sure that they were still looking on point by fixing them up with this little tool brush that worked wonders. Since my hair can sometimes have a mind of its own, they did a great job of making sure different curls would stay in please during the scenes! During fittings, you could do your hair however you wanted, and most of the time, because my hair is pretty big, I just did a messy bun so that when I pulled clothes over my head, my hair would not look that much messier than it did before!
HH: As Mary Anne began to explore the nuances of her natural hair, we began to see her character come more to life than before. How do you believe your natural hair plays a role in confidence and self-love?
MALIA: I feel that since big curly hair is not the beauty standard, it can create a feeling of less confidence for some people. By wearing our hair natural, we are sticking it to everyone who calls it nappy and loving ourselves whether our hair is in braids, twists, locs or natural. I love my hair and feel more confident when it’s big and natural because I feel like I’m most me when I wear it that way! It makes me take up space, and I’m okay with that.
HH: How did you become involved in activism at such a young age? What inspires you to speak out against social and racial injustices?
MALIA: There has always been this sort of deep-rooted feeling that just told me that I would do something someday, and then I discovered that I love using my voice for the things I’m passionate about. Hearing news about what is going on in our world, looking at my role models, and my own experiences with racism, or just ignorance, I think, is where my never-ending passion for making a change comes from!
HH: As a young Black girl, how important is it to use your platform to spread the positive message of self-love and activism to Generation Z?
MALIA: I believe that it is so important! I use my platform to spread awareness and share petitions to more people with just a push of a button, an audience that I’ve never had before. I also share messages about self-love and mental health because I feel my peers must know they are worthy and ultimately feel good about themselves. I feel like most BIPOC have been waiting for this time where the movement seems to be at a peak. We are finally being heard, and most of Gen-Z are right behind us. I also feel that Gen-Z is the future of change, and I gotta say I feel pretty honored to be a part of it. Young people have always been at the core of social change, particularly on a global scale. We are going into the future with knowledge and the spirit of generations that have come before us. It keeps us educated, which enables us to spread awareness, empower others, and make changes to our future, which is incredible!
HH: How do you think social media plays a part in how young Black girls love themselves and view their natural hair?
MALIA: Since social media can spread things so quickly, it can be super awesome. I think it is so amazing that I’m just able to search up #blackgirlmagic or #naturalhair to see my fellow sisters feeling confident in their magic. You cannot be what you cannot see, and seeing other Black girls being themselves with natural curls, and all is so powerful.
HH: In the era of the Black Lives Matter movement, how does your natural hair play a part in your activism as a young girl of color?
MALIA: My hair was such a big part of the racism and generalizations directed towards me, as I am sure it is for many Black girls out there. I feel that now when I wear my hair down and big, while I’m also advocating for such important causes, it is almost like I’m just showing everyone that I’m being unapologetically my Black girl self. It is such a big part of me, and I know it is such a big part of so many other girls out there. I am not my hair, but my hair keeps me connected to my roots – literally and figuratively – and feels political in itself, is empowering to me, and as such, what I now show with pride and confidence while advocating for myself and others.