Inside Scoop Series: An interview with international fashion model Wakeema Hollis

For an inside look into what it’s like to be a model with natural hair, check out the next installment of my Inside Scoop Series with international fashion model Wakeema Hollis.

Wakeema Hollis, known professionally as Hollis, was raised in Jackson, TN. At age 15 she unexpectedly began a modeling career that would take her around the world. After graduating high school, she moved to NY to pursue her career. Hollis has graced the pages of countless high fashion magazines, walked the runways of New York, Paris, Milan and London, and has had the pleasure of working with designers like Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren, and many others.
1. When and why did you decide to go natural? How did you transition to natural hair?
For me it was a bit unexpected. When I started to pursue my modeling career on an international level, the agents in Paris and Milan would only accept me on one condition – The weave had to go! They thought the idea of me using extensions to make me “prettier” was ridiculous. In their minds I was only hiding my God given beauty under a heap of someone else’s hair. I knew if I wanted success and if I wanted to follow my dream, I had to let go of the security blanket that was my long extensions. So, I transitioned under a “Natural textured” sew-in for about six months.
2. Describe your hair regimen. Do-it-yourself or let someone else do it for you?
I am very hands on. In fact, I actually dislike letting other people do my hair, which is a problem in my career field. I do not straighten my hair, ever, because it simply cannot handle it. I made the mistake of doing that once and my coils never returned. My hair was limp, straight, and smelled burnt. Because of that, work suffered. Apparently I’m not the only one that loves my natural hair, my clients prefer it that way too! Without it, I wasn’t the same Hollis that they had come to know and love.
I’m not always loyal to a particular brand but I am very strict about the consistency of my regimen. I co-wash once a week and detangle with a wide tooth comb while my hair is soaked with conditioner. I always seal my hair in layers right after washing (leave-in, coconut oil, heavy oil), and I put it into two strand twist to dry. I shampoo once a month followed by a deep treatment with my hair steamer. I also do an ACV rinse monthly to remove build up.
3.What, if any, are the advantages to being natural in the industry? Have you ever experienced any challenges? Rude comments? Negative experiences?
The biggest advantage to being natural in this industry is that I stand out. Black models with long extensions come a dime per dozen and I’m happy that I’m different. It feels good to know little girls out there can see me in a magazine or TV commercial and think “Hey, She looks like me!” “Her hair is just like mine!”
Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the rude or negative comments some people are determined to make. I’m not paid to talk, I am paid to look a certain way, but sometimes that gives clients the impression that they can say whatever they please to me. I’ve been insulted in ways you cannot believe. One comment that comes to mind is, “Hollis, What makes you interesting as a model is the fact that you are middle of the road brown with nappy hair and a cute face.” – It doesn’t get more negative than that!
4. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of models and actresses with natural hair who appear in commercials and advertisement. What do you think accounts for this increase?
Times have changed. The misconceptions that black people have about natural hair have proven themselves to be untrue. Main stream media and advertising companies figured out long ago that natural hair has NOTHING to do with looking like the help. Natural hair is worn by Oscar nominees, Grammy award winning singers, and fashion editors that work for Vogue! Yes indeed, times have changed.
5.What is your advice for aspiring models and actresses who want to wear their natural hair to auditions and casting calls? 
Do it! Healthy hair is always beautiful so keep your hair looking just as great as your straight-haired competition. Keep your hair conditioned and moisturized. My go-to style is the twist-out because clients absolutely love the definition it gives and how easy it is for them (I always show up with it styled already.) I’ve also learned that for me, twist-outs read very well on camera.
6.What upcoming projects do you have? 
I’m going to shoot in South Africa after the New Year. I am super excited because I’ve never been to Africa before! In the meantime, catch me in magazines like ELLE and in TV commercials for Hershey’s Bliss (Chocolate) and Macy’s.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to add? 
They call this process a journey for a reason. It won’t always be easy and there’s definitely an awkward phase when you no longer have a TWA that can just wash and go, but you don’t yet have the length for the coverted styles you see on other naturals. Stick with it. Be encouraged. It  feels amazing when you finally take that step and it will be one of the best decisions you ever made.
8.Where can my readers and guests find you on the Internet?
Please check out my blog, It’s all about the beauty, fashion, and fun of being natural.
You can also follow me on twitter @Misshollistics and
Thanks for the interview and the positive work you’re doing through your blog!

Wow! Many of the actresses and models I’ve interviewed continue to share positive experiences with their natural hair. What’s most surprising to you about the Inside Scoop interviews you’ve read?

3 thoughts on “Inside Scoop Series: An interview with international fashion model Wakeema Hollis

  1. Awesome read and very well laid out. Interesting, informing, classy and inspiring. Keep up the great work. Maybe one day we will cross paths and i will get to meet you in person. Till then………

  2. Pingback: Check out my interview for the Hollistics blog | Natural Hair in the Media

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