The Tatum Talks: Why Viola Davis Rocks a Wig on ‘Murder’

*Shonda Rhimes has done it again!!
I am definitely one of the 14 million people that tuned in–excitedly might I add–to the feisty premiere of “How to Get Away With Murder” last week.
Rhimes is a master at drawing us in with riveting plots, multi-dimensional characters, and astute writing that keeps you salivating until the next episode, and she has scored another touchdown with Viola Davis as the star.  Bravo!  I would love to know just one thing…
Do you really believe “Annalise Keating” wouldn’t be taken seriously with her natural hair?
Why Viola Davis Rocks A Wig On How To Get Away With Murder
Although I no longer process myself, I am not a natural snob.  I have no problem if you enjoy a palate of wigs and weaves in various forms, and the wig they chose for this character is no different.  Its quaint, helmet-esque style is certainly considered professional and fitting for her lawyer/law professor lifestyle, but isn’t Viola’s current ‘do just as appropriate?  I’ve seen a slate of African-American white collar professional women with similar styles.  Some of you will suggest the wig is being used as a protective style like many other actresses use because of the excessive heat it takes to achieve pristine results, but for those who aren’t up on natural hair care etiquette, unless you’re trying to get a straight, relaxed look, most Black women with natural hair rarely use direct heat, i.e, a blow dryer.  Davis’ hair could be tamed into numerous and attractive styles while not offending her onscreen profession.
After conversing with a few of my girlfriends, we concluded that Viola’s wig exists for one reason and one reason only…to make people feel safe.  Anything other than relaxed is often seen as rebellious, free-spirited or “less classically beautiful”; certainly contradictory of the typical lawyer type.  Initially, I thought it was for the safety of WHITE people, but that’s not the case.  It’s BLACK people, ASIAN people, HISPANIC people, CORPORATE AMERICA people…pretty much most of ABC’s demographic.
If Shonda’s genius has inspired ABC to adopt colorblind casting, certainly she can dismantle other stereotypes as a rippling effect.  Yes, she is one person and we shouldn’t put the pressure of unearthing our many forms of blackness on her shoulders simply because she currently owns Thursday nights on TV.  Maybe it’s Viola Davis that requested a wig?  I’d hate to believe that either one of them lacks security in allowing Viola’s powerful character to be represented  by Viola’s powerful hairstyle.
Maybe I’m expecting too much.  It’s not a deal breaker for me.  We’ve come a long way in TV land, and Ms. Rhimes’ contributions are a large part of that success.  With the power of our dollar, I just don’t want us to settle for anything less than what our culture deserves.  Baby steps, Tanya, baby steps.
Hair Entry
Tanya Tatum is the outspoken host of “The Tatum Talks,” a live Blog Talk Radio show focusing on African-American interests.  Tune in each Wednesday at 9p EST for a revealing conversation.  Join in the daily discussions at  Follow her on Facebook and @TheTatumTalks on Twitter.

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