Fans of The Walking Dead have known Danai Gurira as the fierce katana-wielding survivor Michonne since she was first cast in the enormously popular show in 2012. But if that role wasn't enough to solidify the actress's status as a soon-to-be household name, then her appearance as Dora Milaje leader Okoye in Black Panther is sure to seal the deal.
Gurira's depiction of fearless feminine strength is a true standout in the smash hit movie, and her look on last night's Oscars red carpet proved that her powerful presence isn't limited to the characters she portrays on-screen. With the plunging back of her strapless gown, it was the perfect opportunity for the star to showcase the jaw-dropping work of her hairstylist, Vernon Scott.
Scott, who’s also worked with Amber Rose, Zayn Malik, Teyana Taylor, and Kanye West, is known for his sharp, sculpted, ultra-precise cuts that are more art than hairstyle. He tells Refinery29 exclusively that the look was far from spontaneous — in fact, it was carefully planned to the very last detail ahead of time. Scott started with a storyboard of photo references, looking to traditional, ancestral tribal African design on the skin and hair as his inspiration. "I basically just translated that and I said, 'Well, I want to paint the design to give it a three-dimensional feel," he explains.
The entire process started a few days before the actual event so that Gurira's hair grew a little higher in the area where the design was to be placed, with the hair around it cut close to the head for what Scott calls an "inversion" effect. "I wanted the design on the side of her head to literally levitate, to exist above everything else," he says. When it came time for the final touches, the stylist used white eyeliner finished off with a holding spray to ensure it stayed in place all night.
Needless to say, Scott's careful planning was worth it: His client's look was hands-down one of the best of the night. We can't wait to see what he comes up with next... especially when next year's Oscars rolls around, because it's anyone's guess how many nominations Black Panther will inevitably land.