I never remembered a time without having a perm until I cut all my hair off, when I was in my 20s. And I literally had never been with my hair. I had no relationship with it. That was really important on my personal journey to love and figure out who I am as an entirety. I think [the film] is just about looking at ourselves, getting comfortable with ourselves, and then expressing that.
ALLURE: Did working on this film in any way influence your own relationship with your hair?
EL: Yes! I just thought about that recently. I have fun with my hair anyway, like I do lots of twist-outs and I’ll style it [different ways], but since working on this [film], I’ve been more explorative. I hadn’t had braids and twists in a while so I’ve been doing that and I’ve been creating all these fun styles and situations.
I think it was actually, unconsciously, even more freeing. And I didn’t expect that [catharsis] because the weave [in the film] is a straight weave. I think that sometimes that’s where our mind goes to — at least that’s where mine was going to — and I didn’t have any new relationship with that idea. But when I look at it, I have a whole new respect for [my hair] and for being able to honor my hair and protect my hair in this way. It’s really cool.
ALLURE: The film boasts an extraordinary cast of Black women — you worked alongside Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, Laverne Cox, and Kelly Rowland, just to name a few. Although this is changing, the amount of representation for Black people in horror, and Black women in particular, has been scarce. Why do you think Black horror stories are so necessary right now?
EL: Because it takes us seeing ourselves in order to dream even further. It takes brown-skinned women being on a big screen in front of little brown-skinned girls [for them] to be like, “I could do that one day.” They’ve been — we’ve been dreaming our whole lives, but the more representation there is, the easier it is. I think also seeing a bunch of Black women get together in this way reminds us of the sisterhood and the community we have amongst each other. Every single one of those women opened up to each other, and to me, and we were like a little family on set all the time. We had the best time.
ALLURE: This is your first major leading role. Are you interested in doing more horror movies after this experience? Creatively, where are you hoping to go next?
EL: I’m hoping to have a body of work and a catalog [so] vast, [that] impresses me when I’m 80. I’ll be like, “I can’t believe I did that!” I feel that way about this movie. I just want to play amazing characters who are well-written and have full arcs and are multidimensional. I don’t want to think about any one piece as like, just a genre. I want to have a creative and incredible career.
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