Republished From August 2012 Photos Courtesy of Lanita Joseph
Lanita Joseph, one of our favorite artists, is back to talk about her latest project, “The Monologues of My Nappy Hair,” which is the second play in her Monologues series. “Monologues…Hair,” speaks to the political and historical choices African American women make with regards to their hair.
Joseph once again serves as the executive producer, director, writer, performer, graphic designer, ticket seller and the overall go-to-person for all tasks that needs to be done. She lets her hair down to reveal her ultimate goal to take this play around the world.
PRIDEINDEX (PI): This past summer you had the second installment of “Dancing with the Queer Stars” and now you have “The Monologues of My Nappy Hair” coming up, do you like to keep busy with projects?
LANITA JOSEPH (LJ): Honestly, I am depressed if I am not busy doing my projects, truly. I am a full time artist and this is just what we do, this is our life. However, in being a full time artist, it makes me have to be a full time marketer, graphic designer, producer, director, ticket seller, street team, PR
person and everything else you can think of. I do everything, but this year I have been blessed with phenomenal dancers who have pitched in, helping with the non-creative parts of the show.
PI: What do you hope to accomplish with “Monologues…Hair?”
LJ: I hope to educate while also entertain the world about the objectification of black women and how they are exploited through their hair. I hope for more than just the black community but the human community to wake up and fight against the notions of white supremacy in every way that it may manifest. And, ultimately…secretly, I wish for every black girl, including myself to love her natural hair.
PI: Is “Monologues…Hair” going to be more like “The Vagina Monologues,” or “Hair The Musical?”
LJ: I do think it similar to the Vagina Monologues in that it has a lot of monologues, however, it is greatly different because there is a heavy plot and dance weaved in between the monologues. It can be similar to “Hair” in that I mix all elements of the performing arts together; however, it is not about hairstyles at all. It’s more about social awareness, self- esteem, self love and overall a deep love for blackness as well as the human race. “The Monologues of My Nappy Hair” speaks to the highly political and historical choices black women make with their hair and how it affects the African American community as well as the overall global economy.
PI: Where did you find the inspiration for “Monologues…Hair?”
LJ: Well, I did a show similar called, “The Monologues of a Dark Child.” Then I went away to get my MFA in dance, and I needed to do a thesis. I thought the topic of hair would be great because I have so many funny hair stories. However, a thesis requires an intense written research book by the time of completion. I then learned about how important this topic was. It forced me to study African American history, Feminism, Black hair history, influences of the media and even food. “The Monologues of My Nappy Hair” is the second of my Monologue series. There will be a third speaking of body images.
PI: Is this a one woman show?
LJ: I’m entirely way too shy to do a one woman show, although it’s been recommended. I actually have a HUGE cast of actors, dancers and children to display the stories.
PI: What is your favorite hairstyle of all time?
LJ: Honestly, I am going through hair transitions and mental emotional changes with my hair and hairstyles, which is why im giving away free hair styles to anyone who wants them and needs them. So honestly speaking, I loved my hair straight and long with a part on the side. Some would say it looked like Michelle Obama’s hair. Another hair style that I LOVED was given to me by a woman in Atlanta. She gave me an amazing long weave with big crimps. I looked like a movie star. People would stop me in the street to ask me who I am or to tell me my hair is beautiful. I can honestly say that now that I wear my hair completely natural and kinky, I get just as much attention but it is not the same kind. Although I have not found a natural style that I like on me, I am committed to defeating the notions of white supremacy, and refuse to be exploited through my hair. I am also a role model to a large amount of women and girls. In affirming my kinky hair, I affirm theirs. The way that I wear my hair makes a huge impact on everyone but especially black women and girls. I wear my hair this way because it is the right thing to do, I refuse to wear my hair straight until every black girl and woman is proud of their natural hair texture and no longer feel like they have to hide it under a weave or endure harsh chemicals to be beautiful and socially accepted.
PI: Who are the Drum Divas and what role will they play in “Monologues…Hair?”
LJ: The Drum Divas are a wonderful queer drumming group. They collaborated with me on a previous show and it was a HUGE success. I invited them back. They provide an amazing soundtrack to the show, and most importantly amazing energy that feeds my soul.
PI: What else should audiences expect to see in “Monologues…Hair?”
LJ: They should expect to see some things that are mind blowing and performances they have NEVER seen before. In this show I am defying all odds and even gravity.
PI: In addition to playing in Chicago “Monologues…Hair” will also play in other cities including Atlanta, Savannah, Philadelphia, Houston and Dallas how did you get your weave to extent across multiple zip codes? (How did you coordinate “Monologues…Hair” to play in multiple cities?)
LJ: I love the way you worded this question. As most of my projects have been, the tour is self-funded. No, I don’t have a lot of money, just a lot of faith. I’m some how able to make these things happen. However…Sponsors wanted!
PI: Will you ever dye your hair blonde or red? Why not?
LJ: No. First, I think blonde would look awful on me. I like to look plain. I don’t like to look extravagant, militant, or flashy. Second, the chemicals would break my hair off immediately. My hair only likes to be blackish, reddish and kinky. Third, chemicals are unhealthy, so I try to stay away from them as much as possible.
PI: What is your ultimate goal?
LJ: Wow, that question would need its own interview. My ultimate goal with this play is to tour it around the world until everyone was made aware of the issues at hand. I also aspire to get my PHD in anthropology studying the African diaspora, tracing my own African roots so that I could be a professor teaching my own black dance curriculum. I love to teach, so I’d love to have a performing arts school as well continuing to make amazing thought provoking films. I’d also enjoy not having to worry about the administrative things that I have to do to keep the Dance Company running. I’d love to just be the artist.
PI: Is there anything else you would like to share?
LJ: Please support this show, September 21st at the Portage Theater. Also, we’re having free hairstyles September 20th! Please come! To purchase tickets visit themonologuesofmynappyhairchicago.eventbright.com