Karimah Westbrook is both talented and beautiful. The actress is known for her roles in Suburbicon and on Showtime’s Shameless and NBC’s Aquarius. Now, Karimah is set to put her mark on the CW’s new show, All American.
We had the opportunity to link up with the naturalista to learn a bit about her new role and her hair journey — including how she finally learned to beat hair breakage.
Hype Hair: Can you tell us a little about All American?
KW: All American is The CW’s newest drama series, inspired by the life of pro football player Spencer Paysinger. The series follows Spencer as a rising football star from South Central L.A. who’s recruited to play for Beverly Hills High. And the wins, the losses and the struggles of two families from vastly different worlds— Crenshaw and Beverly Hills—begin to collide. The cast includes Daniel Ezra, Taye Diggs, Cody Christian, Samantha Logan, Money Mazur and Michael Evans-Behling.
HH: What role do you play?
KW: I portray Grace James, Spencer’s mom on the series. I have two kids, and Spencer is my oldest. I am his biggest fan and will do whatever it takes to position him for better opportunities and success in life.
HH: What do you love most about playing this role?
KW: What I love most is that I have two sons on the show. I always wanted to have boys! I love the environment we live in, and the circumstances that surround us on the series reflect a reality that a lot of single mothers and young boys face. There is a lot of love in our home, and I think it’s a great opportunity to inspire and reveal truths beyond any stereotypes.
HH: Can you share a little bit about your natural-hair journey?
KW: My hair journey consists of me wearing my hair natural for 17 years, and it has been a real learning curve. For most of those years, I never really invested any real thought into hair care besides washing and conditioning. I didn’t think there was anything more to it. I would just wash, condition and blow-dry to make my Afro bigger, or I would two- strand-twist it. But at one point, a talent rep I was working with told me I wouldn’t work wearing my hair in an Afro — so I started wearing sew-in weaves. When I’d take the weave out, I’d see how much my hair grew. It would be so big! I loved it, and I wouldn’t want to put the weave back in.
My hair being big and longer wouldn’t last though. Months down the line, my hair would break and get shorter and shorter. I didn’t understand what was happening, and I would hurry to put the weave back in, in hopes that my hair would grow again. This cycle would happen over and over, and I had no clue as to why my hair wouldn’t retain its length when I’d take the weave out.
HH: What was the deciding factor to focus on your hair’s health?
KW: When I officially said, “I’m going to wear my hair natural from here on out, whether the industry hires me or not,” I knew I had to figure out why it kept break-ing off. I became a product junkie. I bought and tried a lot of different products. It’s so odd—during those days, it was rare to find a hairstylist in L.A. that did natural hair. Although I thank God for YouTube, I later learned on my journey—and many products later—that one size does not fit all. After years of trying and research, there was one thing I learned about that changed my natural hair game—hair porosity. It set me on the path to finding the right products, and it saved my hair.
I am happy to say that I now know how to take care of my natural hair. With the right products and a healthy diet, my hair is growing strong, with little to no breakage. Amen to that!
Click through to find out Karimah’s tips for healthy, moisturized hair.