Avatar Star Bailey Bass on Her Curl Routine and Why Hair Diversity Is So Important for the Red Carpet

Texture Diaries is a space for Black people across industries to reflect on their journeys to self-love, and how accepting their hair, in all its glory, played a pivotal role in this process. Each week, they share their favorite hair rituals, products, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned when it comes to affirming their beauty and owning their unique hair texture.

“I think my favorite part about what I do is the escape of it all,” says Avatar: The Way of Water star Bailey Bass. In James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel, the 19-year-old Brooklyn-based actor plays Tsireya, a young free-diver and the daughter of Metkayina clan leaders Ronal and Tonowari. While Bass relishes slipping into different characters like “Reya” (“I relate to this character a lot,” she says. “I’ve been told I have a warm spirit.”) on screen, she prioritizes self-care off of it. “Confidence ebbs and flows, especially in this industry, but I’ve learned to protect my mental health,” she says. “I restrict a lot of things on my social media, and I’m all about spending more time with my family and finding a work-life balance.”

Another pillar for staying grounded? Caring for her signature cloud of spirals, which were on display throughout her Avatar: The Way of Water press tour. “Growing up, I didn’t always see a lot of curly hair representation, so I had a lot of fun pulling images of straight hair [looks] from Pinterest and recreating them as curly hairstyles,” says Bass, who wore everything from intricate serpentine braid looks to a stunning, slicked-back cascade of wet-look curls with the help of trusted hairstylist Cassandra Normil. You wouldn’t know it now, but taking pride in her hair and finding ease in her routine was a journey for Bass. “I think my earliest memories of my hair are of me breaking brushes,” Bass says with a laugh. “I think almost every actor I’ve spoken to has some sort of hair horror story on set, which is really sad. I think it’s important that more stylists learn to work different textures.” She credits loved ones, her mom especially, for always reminding her that her hair is beautiful.

“When I look back, I definitely think about how certain microaggressions got to me, and I wouldn’t always want to wear my hair out,” she says. “But my mom and family always encouraged me to, so that was helpful.” One of her fondest memories is when her mom took her to get her hair braided at age 10. “It was a half-cornrowed, half-curly look,” she recalls “I remember someone at school tried to tell me it didn’t look good. But that was one of the first times I didn’t care what other people thought of my hair. I felt so beautiful.”

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