Actress Nafessa Williams is making waves in her latest role as Anissa Pierce/Thunder in the CW’s newest comic-book-turned-television-series drama Black Lightning. While we’ve already fallen in love with her work in the Sundance drama Burning Sands and the reboot of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, she’s now also making history as the first Black, lesbian superhero to hit the screen.
She’s also inspiring brown girls everywhere as a badass with cornrows! We caught up with the beauty during filming of the premiere season to talk hair, beauty and more.
Hype Hair: It’s great to catch up with you again! Tell us about your new Black superhero family! How are you enjoying it?
Nafessa Williams: It’s a dream job for sure! What I enjoy most is playing a superhero. It’s action-packed and I love what my character stands for. Also, I’ve always wanted to work with Salim and Mara Akil, so this journey has been amazing!
HH: What are some favorite ways you’ve been wearing your hair lately?
NW: I’ve been natural [no heat] most of this past year. Braids have been my go-to lately. Love, love, love, long box braids and cornrows. I’ve also been embracing my natural curly hair.
HH: What are the different ways you enjoy styling your hair for a special event, a casual evening out and for business?
NW: It really depends on what my look/outfit looks like. I always base my hair off what I’m wearing. I love a top knot, a nice classic hairstyle. If I’m more casual, I love cornrows. I actually love to switch my hair up a lot and play around with differ- ent styles. I’m a hair girl for sure!
HH: HH: When we last spoke, you had just tried a wig for the very first time. Do you still like to rock them and do you have any favorites?
NW: Yes! I still love wigs. I’m still obsessed with my bob—I named her August…haha! She is sexy and bold, and I love it. Wigs are great, because you can switch it up while not putting any heat on your hair!
HH: How do you feel about extensions?
NW: Love extensions. Again, another way to switch up your look!
HH: How do you maintain your hair? Do you still press and curl?
NW: I maintain my hair by getting a trim and a deep condition every six to eight weeks. I grew up working in a hair salon, so hair care is very important to me. I’ve been using less heat on my hair, which has been great for my natural curls. I will always love a good press- and-curl and the bone-straight look. I’ve had the same hairstylist, Annagjid “Kee” Taylor [@sosheargenius], since I was 16. I believe in having one hairstylist who knows your hair, someone who treats it properly, as needed.
HH: What are the hair product must-haves that you think our readers might want to try?
NW: Shear Genius Collection is great. I love the edge control. There’s a great serum to apply on the hair before blow-drying that protects the hair from the heat.
HH: What makeup products are your favorites this season?
NW: Rihanna’s Trophy Highlight is everything! Right now, I’m using AJ Crimson’s foun- dation. And Lust by MAC is my favorite lip gloss.
HH: How do you maintain such beautiful looking skin?
NW: I make sure to cleanse and moisturize my face every day using Cetaphil.
HH: Working in the field you do—and just life, in general, can have its challenges. How does your spirituality impact your ability to overcome them?
NW: My spiritually is everything to me. My spiritually is what has led me to where I am today. It reminds me that I’m walking in my purpose and that I can overcome any challenges and obstacles that I face.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on the CW. Check your local listing for details.
A version of this article originally appeared in Hype Hair March/April 2018.