Sasheer Zamata on Her Hairstyle, Colorism, and Her Biggest Beauty Regret
A: I think I was taking ownership of my look and saying, "Okay, I'm not working. I can be whoever I want. No one's telling me how to look right now." That feels really good.
Q: Why do you think women's hair and identity are so intertwined?
A: Hair's always been important to black women in particular. A lot of our bonding time with our moms centered around our hair. And in America, for a long time, we've been told how not to wear it. I shaved my head when I was 19, and a lot of family members said, "You're not going to be able to get a job now." They told me that because that's what they'd been told. They were just trying to protect me.
Q: Do you think that's still an issue?
A: I do, at least in the entertainment industry. Though unfortunately, we still hear stories about little girls getting suspended from school because they have dreads or an Afro. I think the more we're exposed to different options and the more we see them as beautiful, the more they'll be accepted.
Q: You've been pretty candid about how you think the beauty industry plays into colorism by not offering a lot of shade options for women of color. Are you speaking as a frustrated shopper?
A: Oh, definitely. It's really difficult for dark-skinned women to find their shade. We have to search and dig to find something we can trust. If I'm filming a new project and I don't know the makeup artist, I usually bring my own products.
Q: You're one of the new faces of Kate Spade's latest fragrance. What drew you to the campaign?
A: I've always been a fan of Kate Spade—and my mom once told me, "Don't wait for a prom or a ball to wear your good perfume. Wear it now." Because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I think that's kind of the idea behind this.
Q: What beauty advice would you give your 15- or 16-year-old self?
A Don't pluck your eyebrows! Just don't do it! Mine are growing back now, but I look at pictures of myself when I was a kid and I'm like, what was I thinking? I had great brows. They're called boy brows—it's a trend—because most boys have never plucked!
From top left, clockwise:
1. SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo and Conditioner, $12 each; Walgreens.com.
2. "I gravitate toward darker neutral tones like plum or berry on my lips, and gold and brown tones on my eyes." Aveda Feed My Lips Pure Nourish-mint Lipstick in Acai, $24; Aveda.com
3. Urban Decay Hi-Fi Shine Ultra Cushion Lipgloss in Shadowheart, $20; UrbanDecay.com
4. Zamata loves the powdery finish of Hourglass Cosmetics Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation, $56; HourglassCosmetics.com
5. You’ll see Zamata in the campaign for Kate Spade’s new scent. Kate Spade New York In Full Bloom Eau de Parfum, $98 for 3.4 ounces; KateSpade.com
6. Tarte Cosmetics Chrome Paint Shadow Pot in Pot of Gold, $22; Tarte.com
7. Almay Shadow Squad in Individualist, $7; Target.com