With Hollywood’s habitual recycling of popular TV shows, it was only a matter of time before Charlie’s Angel’s found its way back to the small screen. Unlike the film recreation, ABC chose to reflect a new cultural mix in the 2011 remake by casting a Black woman as one of the leads. On the eve of the show’s debut, a conversation with Urban Daily revealed the perspective of new Angel, Annie Ilonzeh, as she speaks on hair and identity while discussing her new role.
You are the first African-American angel in the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise. What kind of responsibility do you feel in the representation of black women on television?
In the beginning I didn’t really think about it. My mother is White and my father emigrated here from Nigeria, so I didn’t look at it color wise. I don’t see a distinction between myself, Minka and Rachael (Taylor). It took me a while to realize it is an accomplishment. It’s great to set a stage to tell women that no matter your color or nationality, you can do it. I want African-Americans to know that with Obama in office, there’s no ceiling anymore. Sometimes it might feel like that, but we have to keep pushing and that’s what makes us strong as a people.
Let’s talk about the hair. When you landed the role of Kate Prince, was there ever a discussion in how you would wear your hair?
Yeah, we did talk about it like “So, what can we do with this kind of hair?” Women are embracing their natural hair, which is great, but we don’t always do that as African-American women. Sometimes we’ll perm it or put some tracks in it, which is awesome because we like play and explore. I wear my hair natural, but I have a few pieces I’ll use when I go undercover on the show. But the producers want me to wear my hair natural; to be true to Annie, instead of washing me into a different person, of what society thinks is more appealing.
As a black actress in Hollywood, What would you say to women who are worried about not being accepted or seen as beautiful when wearing their hair in its natural state?
I would say go for it. You see women who shave their head and think that is the most beautiful thing. You should wear your hair however you feel comfortable. You might see a woman with long straight flowing hair down her back and there might be a little African-American girl who knows her hair will never grow that long. If you’ve got a mini-fro or a kitchen in the back, if you want to put a little heat on it, just embrace it and keep it movin’. I wake up with dreds some mornings because my hair locks up, but I just work with it. You’re never going to please everyone, so you should find your own beauty.
Annie Ilonzeh can be seen as Charlie’s Angel Kate Prince on Thursdays at 8pm on ABC.