Inclusion for Black women in the beauty industry has been a long-standing battle for decades as many leaders in this space have strived to make paramount changes that inspire more equity and opportunity.
Of those pioneering women, famed YouTuber and beauty guru Jackie Aina has emerged to position herself as a social-justice activist for Black women in the mainstream market of beauty.
As a known figure in the industry who has always advocated for more Black women representation, Aina is now teaming up with actress and filmmaker Andrea Lewis to capture the narratives of Black beauty influencers in the upcoming documentary, “Social Beauty.”
“I’m so excited to be a part of something that shows our impact as black women in beauty,” said Aina in a press statement. “I hope through this project people will see that so many of us are passionate, multifaceted, and more than what you see outwardly.”
Lewis is equally excited to have this project see the light of day and work with such a powerful leader for Black women in beauty.
“She wants to see Black women in a place where we are truly respected and our influence is viewed properly,” she said. “That what’s most exciting to me is to be working with someone who truly believes that.”
Lewis — best known for her acting role as Hazel on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” — has connections to the beauty industry that stemmed from her on-set experiences and shaped her understanding of Black beauty.
“I’ve experienced the hair stylists who knew how to do your hair and killed it, but I’ve also experienced stylists who were afraid of my hair,” she said. “That fear alone is going to mess up the process.”
Noting how the beauty industry has historically excluded the voices of Black women and our needs, Lewis knew from a young age she would one day hold the responsibility of controlling our narratives.
“I grew up loving beauty,” she said. “Then naturally diving into the internet space and making digital content is where I started to see not only the influence but the work that a lot of these women were doing as a change that was happening.”
According to a press release, “Social Beauty” — the working title for the documentary — will take a closer look at the lives of influencers like Cydnee Black, Alissa Ashley, Naptural85, Shalom Blac and Nyma Tang, as well as Aina — the documentary’s executive producer.
In regards to their brave work, Lewis credits these ground-breaking influencers included in the documentary for inspiring a new call to action that caters to Black beauty.
“This is a business and these are businesswomen who have changed the entire world of beauty in the course of a decade,” she said.
The goal for the documentary is to examine how crucial these ladies and their digital platforms are to the industry’s changing perceptions of beauty in addition to how they’ve been able to empower Black women to claim their rightful space in an under-serving industry.
“The change I’ve seen in the beauty industry as a result of these dynamic women is underestimated,” said Lewis. “These Black beauty influencers have led the charge in pointing out the lack of diversity in the beauty industry and inspiring more inclusion for women of color.”
Not only will the documentary dive into the realities that Black women face in the beauty industry as well as recent calls for change like the Pull Up or Shut Up initiative in response to the industry-wide social reckoning for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Filming is expected to begin in the fall with director Kwanza Nicole Gooden and Emmy-nominated producers CJ Faison and Takara Joseph.