May 19, 2024

Avatar Star Bailey Bass On Her Curl Routine And Why Hair Diversity Is So Important

“I think my favourite 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 prioritises self-care. “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 mum took her to get her hair braided at age ten. “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. ”

These days, Bass is grateful to have many more hair care products to pick from. Her go-tos include Curlsmith’s Hydro Creme Soothing Mask and Rodan + Fields’s recently launched shampoo and conditioner. “It’s just what I need,” she explains of the latter duo. “It works so well to remove product build-up, especially because stylists usually put so much product in my hair when I’m on set. ” She also relies on regular trims from Glamvie salon in Brooklyn. “Every time I go there, it feels like a family,” she says. “They’re really great with cutting curls. ”

As an older sister, she loves being able to give her younger brothers curly hair tips. “We have the same hair texture; I’ve taught them some tricks,” Bass says. “One of them has even stolen my diffuser. ” As for where she draws inspiration from, Tracee Ellis Ross is at the top of the list. “I remember watching one of her interviews when she was launching Pattern, and I was just glued to the TV,” explains Bass. “I love her personality and how she’s completely herself, too. ”

As her star rises, Bass hopes to turn out more head-swivelling hair looks and keep celebrating her crown of curls. “I want to continue seeing the different textures in our community on the red carpet,” she says. “I want us to know that we’re beautiful. Our hair is filled with so much history. We’re a product of our beautiful ancestors. ”

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