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Karyn Parsons

Karyn Parsons, loving being natural

If you're a '90s kid like me, then you vividly remember the gorgeous and fashionable Hilary Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I loved her care free curls and always assumed she was natural. I recently reached out to her and was surprised by her reaction - she wanted to know "Why me?" I explained that she's among the idols in our online natural hair world and that we'd love to hear her story and learn about her routine. She laughed and to my surprise disclosed that her curls were texturized up until last summer! She's a new natural and had a lot to share:

CurlyNikki: Tell us your hair story...

Karyn Parsons: As a kid, I pretty much had an afro. My hair was natural, long, and curly. I got it straightened occasionally, but not regularly like many of my friends. I had a girlfriend who every Saturday would be sitting on top of the yellow pages getting her hair done. That so wasn’t me. My mom wasn’t really one for that. I do, however, remember her cutting it all off at one point—out of sheer frustration because I was so tender headed. Everything was ‘ouch, ouch, ouch’, so I couldn’t really blame her. [Laughter]

Growing up in Santa Monica was great—it was a very relaxed beach community where everyone was chill and generally accepting of curly hair. I was a laid-back beach kid and my hair totally suited my personality. It got a little trickier as I got older… I was trying to find myself, find my look, and of course figure out my hair. This is about the time that I decided to get into acting. When I began looking for work, I think I leaned a little bit on the fact that I was suppose to have ‘neat’ hair. I wanted a mo-hawk [Laughter], but knew it would be unacceptable. I also came to the conclusion that my highly textured hair was unacceptable. I kind of let the unwritten rules of showbiz lead my life. When I landed the role of Hillary on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I decided to get a texturizer.

CN: I had no idea you were texturized on the show! Your hair was gorgeous and bouncy, I just assumed it was your natural texture.

KP: Thank you! I’ve always loved curls. I’ve never really cared much for how I look with straightened hair, and I certainly couldn’t keep it up to save my life. I like to get my hair wet, work out and sweat, and I’m not one for rolling and wrapping it every night. I’m a real low maintenance person in that regard, plus, straight hair never looked good on me anyway. I kept it curly and used the texturizer because it defined the curl, reduced frizz, and made it easier for me to manage.

On the show, literally everyday, they’d want to ‘tidy up’ my hair with a small curling iron. They’d say, ‘just a few curls,’ but it would turn into my whole head. By the last season, my hair was breaking off. A texturizer plus heat equals no-go.

This was around the time I was first introduced to extensions. Not a weave, but little individual extensions throughout my hair. I got those as a way of kinda filing it out because it was breaking, damaged, and thinning fast. The last time I sat down in the chair to have extensions installed, the stylist tied them wrong and they broke my hair like crazy. Total bummer. I was done with that.

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Fun interview! I too loved "Hillary" and her hair! Curlys unite!;)
I loved her as Hillary and ALWAYS wanted my hair to look like hers! I'm so glad she's embraced her natural texture!

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