Black hair salons and barbershops are hubs of culture. With hairstyling as a backdrop, gossip, politics, and good fun can happen at the drop of a hairpin.Words of support and “real talk” float through the air as clients are groomed and preened, giving each other advice and a shoulder to cry on. Trey Anthony, an award-winning playwright, wrote her Da Kink in My Hair about these experiences for the stage in 2001 which then became a 26 episode TV show between 2007-2009.
Novelette, or Letty (Ordena Stephens), is the owner of a Black hair salon in the vibrant Eglinton West neighbourhood of Toronto, known for its strong Jamaican and Caribbean ties. She’s raising a teenage son, Dre (Daniyah Ysrayl/Conroy Stewart), who is new to Canada after coming over with Letty’s free and breezy sister Joy (Trey Anthony) from Jamaica. They are of a typical immigration story of one relative creating a base for their family in Canada, and the adjustment is difficult for everyone. They have to conform to North American standards but soon learn the ropes from the parade of customers.
Her staff includes Nigel (Richard Fagon), the suave lady’s man and Starr (Ngozi Paul), the new and eager hairstylist adopted by a white family. Along with Joy, they toss quips and drama around as Letty tries to run a business. She is the calm in this Caribbean storm and has a magic touch, sensing her clients’ struggles as she runs her hands through their strands and shapes their appearance to help them find the confidence to face their issues of identity.
Da Kink in My Hair is uniquely Jamaican with reggae beats and exuberant MC interjections instead of a laugh track. Local Black Canadian talent graces the show with guest appearances by Jully Black, Keisha Chante, Stephen Amell, Rapper Michie Mee, and music by Jarvis Church too. It’s a slice of the Caribbean that’s fun, heartfelt and a big part of Black Canadian culture.