Tati Gabrielle changes her hair all the time. Whether it's playing with the color, length, or style of her natural hair, the only constant is that it will be different from what it was six months ago. You may know Gabrielle as Marienne, the librarian from Netflix’s You, or as Jo Braddock in the 2022 film Uncharted. Now, she’s stepping into the beauty world as a brand ambassador for legacy hair-care company göt2b.
R29 got the chance to talk with the 26-year-old actor over Zoom (while she’s on-site in London), all about her hair journey and experience in the beauty and entertainment industry. Her hair is in a protective style with long braids framing her face, and even through Zoom, Gabrielle's energy is magnetic.
From an early age, Gabrielle learned that very few people understand her hair. "My hair journey has been sort of a rollercoaster," says Gabrielle. "I am mixed race, so I have a very particular hair texture that, initially, my mom didn’t really know how to deal with." Gabrielle’s mom is Korean and her dad is Black, leaving her to navigate a world without very much representation.
When auditioning for Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Gabrielle recalls entering her casting call with her hair platinum blonde, styled in Josephine Baker-inspired finger waves. The producers liked the hairstyle so much they asked Gabrielle to keep it to play her character, Prudence — but, they left her in charge of styling and upkeep before eventually hiring someone on set who could do her hair properly. Now, Gabrielle opts for more protective options, like wigs, and even has consultation power in her contracts to veto what she knows won’t work on her hair.
“In certain projects, I’ve had to explain to someone who is not a person of color what my hair is and how it works, and what can and can’t be done to it,” Gabrielle explains. “Thankfully, I’ve had people start to listen and understand that, hey, my hair can’t take everything that maybe a white girl’s hair can take.”
Things are getting better, and according to Gabrielle, there’s one person to credit. “I give a lot of props to Issa Rae and her team on Insecure for opening people's eyes to knowing that Black and mixed-race kids don’t just have to have curly hair or an afro — we could have braids, we can have dreads… it’s showing people the more colorful spectrum.”
Gabrielle lights up as she tells me of a conversation she recently had with a friend about theatre and film as art forms meant to reflect the world around us as it is. “We're responsible for telling society where we are and where we should be going." states Gabrielle. "Hair is a big portion of that in our representation.”
As important as hair is to roles in film and television, it’s also incredibly personal. For Gabrielle, one of the first things she does after wrapping a project and leaving a character is to change her hair. It’s a process of finding herself again after committing to taking on someone else. “My hair’s been my main form of self-expression,” she says. “If I look back on my hairstyles, those were different versions of me, they were past selves in a way. As I continue to grow and change, my own vision of me and who I want to be continues to evolve.”
Now, as a brand ambassador for göt2b, Gabrielle uses her platform and passion for hair to inspire others to explore and play around with their own sense of self. As we stray further away from the binaries that confine us in society, the gray area to explore and take ownership of your own self and identity continues to expand. “No one else can say who you are or what you can and can’t do,” says Gabrielle. “Only you can decide that for yourself. Be who you want to be and accept everyone else for who they are.”
We end our conversation talking about the hair products Gabrielle swears by. For temporary color, the göt2b Color Pöp Mask is the way to go. “It's so good,” Gabrielle raves. “It's this temporary color that washes out in six to seven washes. Not only does it give my hair a bit of moisture, but the colors are super bright, which is awesome.” For breathing life back to dry and color-damaged hair, her favorite leave-in is the It’s A 10 Miracle. While the göt2b Be Twisted Air Dry Curl Foam is her tried and true. “It locks in my curls really nicely, which I appreciate. Finding good [curl] products can be really difficult.”
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