Tomiko Fraser Talks Natural Hair in Fashion and Acting
You may recognize this natural beauty for Gain’s latest commercial narrated by Wanda Skyes. See it here. She is the 1st African American woman to represent Maybelline Cosmetics.
Thank you Mrs. Hines for taking the time to share your hairstory with the NHR family. She discusses topics such as her natural journey, her favorite natural hair products and how the natural choice has affected her modeling/acting career.
Tell us about your hair. How long have you been natural? Why did you decide to go natural? What products and techniques are you using?
My hair is amazing!!! I have never been happier with my hair than I am now. Wearing my hair in its natural state is the best hair choice I’ve ever made! : D
I have been natural for over 12 years. During some of that time, I wore a weave to protect my natural hair from the rigors of working as a fashion model (and truth be told, to also spare me the heartache of having to deal with hairstylists that had NO CLUE about how to work with natural hair). My going natural wasn’t my choice at first. It was “forced” upon me by a trichologist (scalp doctor) who told me that my scalp was damaged due to overprocessing and that I should not put any more chemicals in my hair. I had been experiencing noticeable breakage at the top of my head for quite some time at that point and did everything from a “comb over” to placing a single track of weave hair in the spot to cover up the breakage.
My friend and hairstylist at the time, Anthony Dickey (founder of “Hair Rules” products – https://www.hairrules.com) did my first “Big Chop”. Let me just say that it was a traumatic experience for me. I had recently gotten my contract with Maybelline & was terrified that they wouldn’t like my natural hair or even worse, cancel my contract because I now looked different than how they hired me. Dickey had witnessed the stress my scalp/hair was going through and was just a bit too happy to cut it all off. I love him and understand that he was doing what was best for me and my hair, but I wasn’t as “hair evolved” as I am now, so it was really hard for me to handle. I cried the entire time I was in his chair. Fast forward a few months and my BC had grown in a bit and what did I do? I relaxed it again. I can be stubborn sometimes. You can guess what happened? It broke again and this time with a vengeance. Needless to say, I learned my lesson and did not relax my hair again…..until about 4 years ago. I told you that I was stubborn. Again, my hair had grown into this amazingly healthy big fro and I wanted to see how much length I had. So much to the dismay of my then (and still) friend and hairstylist, Felicia Leatherwood of “Loving Your Hair With Natural Care” (https://www.facebook.com/LovingYourHair), I relaxed my hair AGAIN! I don’t even have to tell you what happened. Let’s just say that this lady will NOT be relaxing her hair ever again.
After the second relaxer fiasco, I left my hair alone for several years and thankfully it grew back into its beautiful big self. But I then found myself not wanting to do my hair anymore. I’d grown tired of the maintenance required to keep my fro looking the way it did. The 2-strand twisting every few days, the pressing I sometimes needed to do for some of my modeling clients, the need to occasionally wear wigs and weaves to accommodate the needs of some of those same clients and my recent fascination with women in the fashion/entertainment industry who’d recently been sporting these amazing natural and short hairstyles had me thinking something I’d never considered…..wearing my natural hair very short. I began looking at pictures where my hair was pulled back so I could try and see what I would look like with short hair. I even “tested” my husband by asking him if he’d be okay with me wearing my hair short. Secretly I’d hoped that he’d say that it wasn’t his preference so I could have an out, but no such luck. My sweety said what he always says “I’m happy if you’re happy. Do what you want with your hair.” (I love that man!). So, I did my second Big Chop (or cut it short for those that say a BC is only called so when you cut out all of your relaxer and wear your hair natural) in February 2011 and I am soooooo in love with my hair now, it is kind of ridiculous. I love the look of it. I love the feel of it. I love that it does what it does. And what I love most of all is how I FEEL about my beautiful hair. Who knew that I, Miss “The Longer The Weave/Wig, The Better” would feel sooooo sexy with my short hair. Seriously, ya’ll can’t tell me nothing. I thought I was cute before, but now….let’s just say I’ve finally come into my own.
I am currently washing and conditioning my hair with Shea Moisture products. I style my hair each day with “Curly Whip” by “Hair Rules”. After applying the product, I use a technique taught to me by my hairstylist, Felicia Leatherwood. It’s called “Palm Rolling” and doing so brings up the cutest little curls I’ve ever seen. : ) Here’s a link to Felicia’s YouTube channel that demonstrates the Palm Rolling technique – http://youtu.be/n5SfzWYWsU4.
Tell us about the Gain commercial & your acting career. How did the opportunity come about? Did you know it would gain so much support from the natural community? Do you feel like your hair has helped or hindered your career? What tips do you have for those interested in pursuing an acting career?
You can currently see me and my natural hair in a commercial for Gain Detergent (https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=250176131698006). Gain wanted to cast a natural-haired woman with a nose ring. Hello!!! Can you say perfect for me?!?!? I walked into that audition already knowing it was mine. I was getting to BE exactly who I am and it felt great!! It was really no surprise (though I was extremely flattered) that I booked the commercial!!
The commercial talks about the “Anything But Ordinary” beauty of natural hair and it’s having a huge impact on the Natural Hair Community. I am still pleasantly surprised at all of the attention this commercial has been receiving. I’ve done countless interviews since the commercial first aired in October. I’ve encouraged those who are inspired by the commercial to let Gain know so. I believe that if the mainstream media heard from more of us, we’d continue to see ourselves represented in their advertisements. If your readers would like to contact Gain and share their positive feelings about my commercial, they can do so on Gain’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Gain.
I also just shot a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios the other day. Like Gain, it is a national spot and will be seen all around the country. Once again, the beauty of my natural hair (and maybe even me) are featured and the commercial will begin airing in June. Please keep an eye out for it.
In addition, I am a lead in the upcoming feature film, “Ex-Free” written and directed by Troy Beyer Bailey (“Baps”, “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”). The movie is a romantic comedy about 3 female best friends who kidnap their exes in the hopes of finding out why they broke up with them. It is hilarious and I had so much fun making it. The movie also stars Shari Headley (“Coming To America”), Leon (“Cool Runnings”, “The Five Heartbeats”), Darrin Dewitt Henson (“Soul Food”, “Single Ladies”), Daphnee Duplaix (“One Life To Live”) and newcomer, Chris Bailey. The film will be released in 2012.
As I’ve grown to LOVE my natural hair more and more, it has only helped my career because I show up differently with this new-found confidence. Though I may not be right for every role I audition for, I am much more grounded in who I am as an actress and a woman. So whatever the outcome, I’m all good.
The tips I have for those who are interested in pursuing a career in acting is that Discipline Is Key. You MUST be vigilant is your learning of the craft. Read books, attend classes and workshops, frequent artistic events to feed your creativity, surround yourself with people that support your dreams and most importantly, have fun. These are tips I am currently using and I am noticing a major difference in me and my work.
Would you like to share about any upcoming or current projects?
My husband, Chris, and I have an online talk show called “Chris and Tomiko Talk About…” where we discuss everything that’s cool, kooky and captivating. We put our own unique spin on what we discuss and our goal is to inspire our viewers to think outside of the box and live life to its fullest. We will have our own talk show on a major network very soon. We’re speaking it into existence.
NHR Family Please support Tomiko by subscribing to her YouTube Channel. Link below. Everyday she post inspirational and “get up off your booty” quotes on her Facebook page. Check them out.
Your readers can keep up with me via the following sites: