Why I Find The Trailer For “Nappily Ever After” Problematic

Ezinne Ukoha
6 min readAug 17, 2018


When it was announced that actress Sanaa Lathan was going to star in Netflix’s Nappily Ever After, there was a sliver of skepticism that overtook me as I contemplated what to expect from an offering, that was supposed to tackle the complex relationship that Black women have with their hair.

Weeks later, Lathan posted the first image of her shaved head, as proof that production was underway, and then weeks after that, the next post showed a burst of curls sprouting on her head, and that’s when my excitement for Nappily Ever After — faded.

The highly-anticipated trailer recently dropped, and it confirmed my earlier assumption of how the casting of a light-skinned Black woman with hair texture that women like me would probably kill for — is typically always the safer bet in narratives that require a more prolific fit.

I’m actually a huge fan of Sanaa Lathan, and my appreciation started with the The Best Man and then escalated with Love & Basketball. She was part of the crop of Black actresses that dominated my generation, and while her talent was and still is indisputable, she also represented the era when actresses of color had to possess certain features and skin hues in order to be palatable for the big screen.

Nothing has changed much since the nineties, but at least there’s a level of progression spawned on by the thread of conversations on social media, that highlight the issues of diversity in Hollywood, and how despite all the chatter, dark-skinned actresses with heavy doses of ethnicity are still dismissed or even trolled by disapproving fans who aren’t down with out-of-the-box choices.

I try not to jump the gun when it comes to judging things I haven’t experienced, but there was no way to contain the mixed reaction that followed after seeing the trailer about a successful Black woman who seemingly has it all, until it she doesn’t.

And then as a form of emancipation, she decides to get rid of her crowning glory, in order to end her reign as a “control freak” while finally “letting herself grow.”

The general reception to the sneak peek was expectedly positive as praises from Black women poured in with rapid glee. Anything to do with hair is usually an easy sell, and…