Stormi Maya is a multi-talented powerhouse: Rapping, acting, directing, modelling…she does it all and more. You can catch her in the highly anticipated movie 𝐇𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐥𝐞𝐫𝐬 where she shares the screen with Keke Palmer, Cardi B, and Lizzo. And if you’re a fan of Spike Lee’s Netflix show 𝐒𝐡𝐞’𝐬 𝐆𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐚 𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐈𝐭, you’ve seen her magnificent fro and flawless form on your screen as Yennifer Clemente. Below she details how she came into her own and learned to love and accept her crown.
How long have you been natural?
Two years without bleach or straightening. About 6 years no relaxer.
Did you transition? And if so, for how long?
I use to have straightened bleached blond hair for years and I completely fried my hair. I shaved it all off and rocked a short cut until it started growing out. I grew up getting relaxers and I started giving myself relaxers at age 15. I stopped giving myself relaxers at about age 18, and I started wearing wigs and weaves instead.
How did you transition? (Braids, twist-outs, weaves, etc.)
Two years ago I shaved all my hair “Amber Rose” style and started rocking it short. When I reached an awkward stage of length I started wearing wigs and weaves. Unlike many in the natural community, natural hair to me means natural state (no wigs, weaves, flat irons, bleach or relaxer). Just kinks and curls that can brushed, braided, twisted, combed, and pinned.
I don’t consider weaves and wigs wearing my hair natural, so I’ve been purely natural for two years, just wearing Afros, braids, buns, twists, and puffs. I co-washed my hair every day and used castor oil, coconut oil, Shea butter, and leave-in conditioner.
Why did you decide to stop relaxing? What motivated you to go natural?
I stopped relaxing at age 18, mainly because I learned how to straighten my hair without them using Dominican blowouts, which soon killed my hair as well lol. I was sick of the thin hair look relaxers have. The main obstacle wasn’t relaxers but bleach, flat irons, and blowouts .
I understand everyone thinks they are considered natural but I wanted to wear my black hair texture. Embracing my kinks was the real journey and struggle. I stopped straightening and bleaching my hair In 2017. Bleach is just as harmful as relaxers and people ignore that.
I hated my hair my whole life. I was always made fun of for its kinks and fizz and puffy appearance. I always wanted more loose curls or hair that was more manageable. No one ever taught me how to style or take care of my natural hair. I only knew to straighten it or relax it.
I was embarrassed to be seen without a weave or wig or relaxer. And I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing my natural curls. I didn’t even see my real curl pattern until 2017. I always had heat damage or relaxers. I wanted to go natural because I was done being ashamed of my hair.
My hair represents my heritage, and I wanted to show pride in that and in myself. No one should think the hair from their head is disgusting or not good enough. I heard mean comments about my hair while I was a model. Even with relaxers and straightening a lot of companies still acted like my hair was inferior and I wanted to counter that hate with self-love.
Did you have trouble adjusting to your big chop or was it a welcome change?
When I shaved my head, I wasn’t worried because my hair was so heat damaged and chemical damaged that there was nothing to miss. Of course I missed having sexy long locks but I just dedicated myself to hair growth and I decided healthy meant more to me than long.
Describe your hair.
My hair is interesting. I am mostly 3c but at the very bottom I am like 3a. My hair is like a coarse curly Afro with different shades of brown throughout. It varies from light brown to dark brown. It’s soft, big, and grows towards the sky .
Do you ever have times when you struggle with your natural hair? How do you deal with those days?
I’ve gotten over the hate for my hair. Now I’m in love and I wanna see her grow and grow. The only struggle I have is some days it doesn’t have the same look, so I have different Afros all the time.
Name one thing you’ve learned about your hair since being natural.
That my shrinkage is major. I also learned she loves moisture, and I learned how to get a blowout look without heat .
Do you have any particular brands or products that you swear by? What’s your hair routine?
I only use vegan products that aren’t tested on animals. I like Palmer’s the most. Their leave-in conditioners are the best. I wash and condition my hair and then pick it out and let it dry or do a light blow dry. Then I add oils and pick with my fingers.
You’ve done everything from acting to directing, modeling, and even rapping. How did you get started in the entertainment business? Has this always been your passion?
I’ve been modeling since age 16. I soon became a Playboy model and later an actress of theater and then film. I always was into the arts and always wanted to explore different lanes. Music started last year and it’s been a fun journey. I started modeling on my own as a way to escape my reality. I was in foster care at the time and it was a way for me to have hope of something else.
Which do you prefer…behind-the-scenes (directing, producing) or on-screen? Why?
I like both equally. I like all hats of filmmaking. I love being an actress and performing, and I also love directing and bringing that out of actors. I even do post-work like editing. I enjoy them all. I just like making art and having fun with artists.
What, if any, challenges have you faced wearing your natural hair in Hollywood? Has it ever prevented you from getting a role?
I tell people I won’t straighten my hair. If someone wants me to wear a weave or wig or something it better make sense to me – not just personal preference. If I’m portraying a real person that would make sense. But I don’t see why a random black waitress in a movie need straight hair.
My hair is my brand too, and I like that I’m contributing kinks and curls to the screen and in a sexy way. The impact it makes wearing natural hair in the media is important, and I want to be a part of that. Like a Tracee Ellis or Cree Summers. It definitely makes a difference to women and girls. If we can’t normalize black hair on screen, how can we normalize it in real life?
I’m excited to see you in your upcoming role as Angel in the highly anticipated movie Hustlers. Tell us a bit about your character and what drew you to this part.
Hustlers is a great movie. I’m so proud to be in it. It’s about sisterhood and female empowerment, and that’s what I stand for. Angel is part of a gang of badass women who fish for men and take all they got. It was fun drugging men and taking their wallets since I won’t be doing that anytime soon in real life.
Share your top tip for someone wanting to break into the entertainment world.
Be consistent. People are so lazy nowadays. What we do is far from easy and, unlike a 9-5, there are no days off. So always be consistent and working.
Where can we find you online? What can we look forward to in upcoming months?
My album “Body of Work” as well as my singles “Cannabis Cunt” and “Stfu” are available on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, Tidal, iTunes, and Bandcamp. Watch Hustlers out tomorrow. I think you’ll like my song “Aphro Puff “. Black hair textures all day, baby. I also have a vlog “Ask STORMI” on YouTube which is funny and grown.
Any advice or words of encouragement for other naturals?
Don’t compare your growth to others. We all have different hair growth cycles.
The best way to keep up with Stormi Maya is on Instagram.