A Little Inspiration, United Members

United Member Morgan Kitchen

morgna kitchen hoodieMeet Morgan Kitchen: a film and video major, model, creative, and someone you ought to know!

What do you do/want to do in the future?

I model now. I figured since I work in front of the camera, I might as well get behind it too. So, I got into studying film and video. For the long term, I hope to work my way up to being a director.

How did you get into modeling?

That’s actually a funny story. Ever since I was little, people have been telling me that I should model. “oh, you’re so tall, you should model!” or “you have the face you should model!”. Back when I use to work at root 21 in Savannah, my manager at the time introduced me to a photographer (a founder of a modeling organization on campus) and she bribed me to do a photo shoot with him. I went to the shoot and I was nervous, but when it was over, I realized that I really liked it and from then on, that’s what I wanted to do. That was about 2 years ago.

morgan runway 2What’s your favorite part of modeling?

My favorite part about modeling is walking. I’m not as confident in other areas of modeling because I still have a lot to work on, but when I’m walking I’m comfortable and feel like I’m the best one in the show.

What’s your ethnicity?

My mom is white and my dad’s black. More specifically, my mom is Russian, German, Irish, Polish, and Greek.

morgan kitchen short hair

Tell me a little about your hair.

This is actually the longest my hair has been that i can remember, but when I was really little it was long. I always had it in a fade throughout my childhood and early teens. In 11th grade, I thought I wanted to grow it out and then went through a phase of about 5 years that I went back and forth between cutting it and growing it out. I would say I was going to keep my hair, then summer rolls around and it gets too hot, then I would cut it. Eventually about a year and half ago I decided to keep growing it out and I bet all of my friends that I wouldn’t cut it that time (none of them believed that I would do it). That was a profitable summer. Funny enough, though,  my mom is a ginger and has red hair, so when my hair grows (even my facial hair) it fades back and forth between black and red. People often think that I dyed the ends, but it’s just my natural hair color.

morgan suit

What is your hair routine?

Honestly, I just wet it to get it curly. I try a bunch of different hair products. I use ‘All Natural Curl Cream’ by Dark and Lovely. I also love Shea Moisture’s products. When my hair is in a fro, I wash it once a week maybe 2 times. I stick to cold water on my hair, deep condition it once or twice a month, and recently I’ve been getting it twisted . This is only the 5th time I’ve had it done. I actually need to get my ends trimmed now. For some reason the red part of my hair is the most difficult to manage, that’s where I get all my knots. I mostly just wet it and shake it.

morgan kitchen jeans

Do you do twist your hair yourself? or does someone twist it for you?

Usually I get my sisters to twist it. I tried to do it myself and it didn’t turn out very well. They love doing my hair. When they see me, before even giving me a hug, they play in my hair. It’s pretty weird.

Do your siblings have similar hair as you?

All of my siblings have afros. My best friend (she’s like my sister) she ironically looks the most like me. My biological sister is a little darker than me but has an afro too. All of my close friends and siblings have natural hair. I have a full white brother on my mom’s side and on my dad’s side I have a black brother and black sister. It’s funny because whenever I have a hair question, I know who to call. My sisters and my friends know all about natural hair, so they’ve got my back.

demigodDo you have other interests besides your modeling and school?

I draw a lot, I read, I’m kind of a book nerd. I love video games (i actually have a video game tattooed on my ribs). I love skate boarding. It’s so awesome to feel the wind my hair. I’m also working on a clothing line that will be out in the fall of next year. We’re doing basic apparel: t-shirts, sweaters, hats with graphics first, and then extending it further to other things like music and art. I want it to develop into a brand.  It’s called Demigod Apparel. The first several designs, I literally stayed up for 28 hours straight to get it done. I was just so motivated and couldn’t stop until I got it done.

morgan kitchen sittingWhat would you say is your life’s philosophy?

I actually have it tattooed on my back: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is an option”. I got that because I have a lot of health issues and people often feel bad for me, but I look at it as this: if I can get up every day and do what I have to do then I’m not suffering from it.  I have a bone disease in my neck called degenerative disk disease. My neck is essentially rotting away because I’m loosing spinal fluid and it causes extreme migraines on a daily basis. It’s like  an advanced form of arthritis. Most people’s pain is on a scale of 1-10, but mine is on a scale of 1-20. This illness is more common for people in their 50’s, but I was diagnosed when I was 18. I also have a Phoenix feature tattooed on my other rib. It reminds me of how I manage my illness. No matter what, I gotta keep rising.

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United Members

United Member Makeda

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Meet the wonderfully unique Makeda Lewis. She’s a psychology major at Georgia State, an artist, a free spirit, and overall someone you ought to know.

What kind of art do you do?

Right now, I’m working with wood and burning it. I’m going to be working with styrofoam wig heads also. I’m moving towards more 3-D platforms.

What inspires you and your art?

Everything inspires me. I consume as many things as possible. I feel like that makes for more interesting work. I love to read, I love different music, I love old religious architecture, I love German Christian art and Muslim and Buddhist architecture. I get a lot of inspiration from words that I read and conversations that I had.

image (3)How did you get into art?

God. I’ve been drawing since I was I little. The funny thing is that I use to hate art in high school and even college. It was so boring. There were a lot of basic drawing classes. Eventually, I realized that the basics were actually really important in order to put something together that is powerful and means. Everything that you do is on purpose. Each characteristic is being done on precisely. For example, in one class, they focus on lines: the thickness and the placements are really important. I could draw this awesome sketch of a falcon on a woman’s body, but if I had lines that were done with more intentional detail, the piece is going to have a different affect on the viewer. Because it’s done well and with the proper technique, the message can be translated in a more powerful way.

image (1)Are you still an art major?

I eventually changed my major to psychology because it was something more lucrative and practical. I don’t want to be a starving artist. I, do, however, like psychology. I was thinking of being an art psychologist. I like how learning about psychology effects my art. My understanding of the way people think changes the way that I create.

Now, let’s talk hair. How did you transition to natural hair and ultimately to shaving it all off?

I had a relaxer in high school. I did have long hair, so I guess that was cool. In 2009 I told my mom that I wanted a fro. I was just trying to be rebellious. From then on, I started growing my natural hair out. I was still getting my hair straightened. Then, started a serious of many different looks: I had a bob, went back and forth between mohawks and other short cuts, and eventually cut it off. It was a 3 year process to get to where I am now.

How did you feel when you cut your hair off?

I remember just looking in the mirror and thinking, “This is what I’m suppose to look like”. It was one of those true moments when the outside perfectly matched the inside.

image (7)How did your family and friends react?

My mom didn’t really care. My Grandmother didn’t like any of my hair styles. She was concerned that my hair would be “nappy” or crazy looking. My friends have always loved my hair styles. My favorite reactions about my hair are really from little kids. They always wonder if I’m a girl or a boy because they’re not use to seeing someone defy what they understand is a woman.

What is your definition of a woman?

I really don’t know. I’ve been kinda thinking about this recently. I’ve been reading this book called Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Estes. It’s a compilation of myths and stories of what she calls “wild women”. She says it’s the base of women kind. it’s this connection that women have to the spirituality of womanhood. I feel like this book is changing my ideas of what it means to be a woman. I do not think that men and women are the same. The differences are more on a scale. I don’t want to define by comparing the two either. I think when I identify with myself, I identify as female because of my biological make up and me feeling comfortable in this body. That’s a much more straight forward classification. Womanhood is much more complicated and is hard to define in a few sentences.

image (5)What would you say to anyone struggling with their identity and having trouble being themselves? 

Have you have ever had a moment that you’ve been completely honest with yourself? The peace that comes from that is greater and more rewarding than the false sense of security that comes from hiding who you are and hiding what you think.  It’s just so much more freeing. There’s always someone that doesn’t fuck with you for who you are. A lot of human problems starts with our inability to be honest with ourselves. I would just encourage people to be authentic.

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United Members

United Member Dasie Thames

Introducing United Member, wonderful, and talented– Dasie Thames.

Ms. Thames performed as ‘Dion’ in the Serenbe Playhouse production of Hair —a rock musical that proved to be a game changer for American Theatre. This show invites the viewer to join the Tribe, a group of young hippes in search of their place in the world while doing their part for social and political change during the Vietnam War.

Where are you from originally?

 I grew up here, outside of Atlanta–Lithonia, GA

Do you do anything else outside of acting or performing?

I wish this was the bread and butter, but I am a human resources manager by day. I work for a company called ITW, it’s a global industrial manufacturing company and I am responsible for some units in Chicago, Langrange, GA, Czech republic,  and Germany. It’s kind of crazy!

How did you get into that field?

Years ago, I just worked my way up in the company, but I’ve been in human resources my entire career.

Did you go to school for that career?

Not for human resources, I actually got a degree in hotel and restaurant management, so it’s kinda interesting how that worked out.

Dasie as the The NarratorHow long have you been performing?

Professionally- about 4 years. I’ve done some stuff in church growing up, and then I started doing smaller productions. Serenbe playhouse was actually where I did my first production on the professional level.

Tell me about the show hair?

Hair actually opened on Broadway in 1968 the same week that MLK was assassinated. So, in the midst of the Vietnam War, the racial tension, and economic tensions, the show came out and it was very controversial at the time. As a matter a fact,, depending on which cast you were in- the Chicago and San Francisco cast – a lot of them got death threats, were persecuted, and outcast by their friends and family because it was such an in-your-face -look-at-our-society show. So the revival came out in 2009 and we are doing a depiction or a  mix of both the original play and the revival in the way that we portray the characters. The music and the score. however, is from the original play.

What would you say is the objective of the show?

I think for us to look at ourselves. You know, at the end of act one, we sing a song called ‘Where do I Go’ and I think that is really where the show takes a turn and becomes more self reflective. The first half is a lot of fun songs about being hippies and getting stoned but then, it puts it into question: where do you go? where do I go? where are the answers and where do you look to and from in order to find the answers? So Claude, one of the main characters, he leads us on that journey. At first, he looks to his friends, his tribe members, he looks to drugs, he looks to sex…all of that is referenced. In the end, the answer is found internally and he makes the decision to become the “invisible man” by basically sacrificing himself and fighting for his country and so that’s where he goes. We all have our own journey as a part of that process.

How did you get your role in the show?

I’ve worked with Serenbe Playhouse since it was founded. So the first 2 seasons, I did the Ugly Duckling and Jungle Book, but I didn’t do last season with them.  This year when they were casting for Hair, I think Brian looked at me and probably saw that it clearly fit (because of my hair), and I was also really interested in doing the production, so that’s how I kind of got involved in it.

What is your favorite part about the show?

I have a favorite song which is ‘What a Piece of Work is Man’. I think it’s just so powerful because at the end of the trip scene, there’s death , there’s chaos, there’s sadness, but at the same time we’re singing about the beauty of man and the attempt to try to be like a god.  I think the best part about the show overall,  is working with such amazing and talented people. We all have our own perspective on how we see the show, how we see ourselves and how we face life; to bring that together…it’s just been an amazing experience.

So now, we’re gonna talk about your hair. How long have you had natural hair?

Since February 2009 . First I started growing it out and I got tired of having the half- poof and the half- straight and I chopped it off and I wore braids and eventually I was like… forget that, and I just started wearing it out.

IMG_1135How do you think it affects your life as a performer?

It makes me extremely versatile. I can do a show like Hair and I can also do a show like Divas and not have to wear a wig which a lot of performers have to do. I can press my hair and make it straight and flowy and also wear it as an afro. When I change my hair style it makes me look very different all together.  I can look like a hippy, I can look more butch, or more refined. I think my hair can kind of take on its own character.

How do you think other people see you when your hair is out and in a fro?

They love it. It’s interesting because I work in corporate America during the day and I typically don’t wear it in a fro, but recently, because of the show, I was wearing it out and my co-workers love it. I think it’s empowering for them to see another piece of who I really am. Normally, it’s so professional, and conservative so they’re seeing a different side. It’s empowering to break away from that.

What is your hair regimen?

Honestly, right now during the run of the show, it’s letting it be dirty for the weekend and then washing it on Monday and it will stay clean until about Wednesday. Normally, I co-wash it at least once a week depending on how dirty it gets, I might co-wash twice a week. I use a mixture of avocado oil, almond oil, castor oil, olive oil, and coconut oil, to do a deep oil treatment about once a month, I do the mayo and egg and mix it with  the shea moisture deep conditioner, put a cap over it and let it sit for 45 minutes and then rinse it out. I started doing the apple cider rinses and I see a huge difference in how well my hair detangles.  I have about 4C hair and it gets tangled so easily, but the ACV rinse helps. As a daily moisturizer, I love to use Cantu Shea Butter. I also recently got a sample of Dr. Miracles Curl Care and I need to find it. I tried doing bantu knots twice with it and I actually like it. My hair stays really soft and the curl pattern actually stays for a long time.

IMG_7196Describe your style?

A little country…a little rock and roll lol It just depends on my mood. I can be bohemian- a lot of bangles, big fro, and I can do some other style and wear my hair is pressed and be more conservative. I’m typically more conservative than anything. I like to wear glasses ( I have a couple of pairs that I wear (I also wear contacts)) to make me feel different. My new favorite thing is shopping at Goodwill to find cool stuff. I think I’m really better at styling other people than myself because I make them take more risk that I would be willing to do myself.

What would you say to other people that are afraid to follow their dreams or pursue their passions?

What are you waiting for? and that’s a question for me too. Life is fragile, and short and unexpected and sometimes opportunities come and they are there just for you and you need to be willing to take them and see what will happen. It’s ok to make a mistake. It’s not necessarily about focusing on the negative impact of taking a risk. There’s a lot of positiveness that can happen, even if it’s just self growth, self development, or self awareness.

Hair is still running until the 18th, so it’s not too late go to see this awesome production.

Visit SerenbePlayhouse.com for ticket information.

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A Little Inspiration, Hair Regimen and Styles, United Members

Exclusive Interview with Alex James: All About Locks

IMG_2788[1]Meet Alex James!

Some of you may have already read the interview welcoming Alex to the NU community.  This time, we’re going to do a more in depth interview and also discuss more about her gorgeous locks. Often times in the natural hair community, we forget to talk about locks because a lot of us don’t know very much about them. My knowledge in that department is also limited, so I brought in someone who knows her stuff!

At what point did you decide to transition to dread locks?

About a year into my natural hair journey, I felt like having a fro didn’t really fit me or my personality. I also wanted a change and to try something new.  It was difficult to narrow down which direction to turn to. I knew I didn’t want a weave or anything of that nature, so in order to get ideas, I turned to youtube! Initially, I started watching videos about  people who decided to shave their heads, but that didn’t seem like the best option for me either. Eventually, I stumbled upon Chescalocs, a popular video blogger who has dreads. She had really awesome videos that explained, in detail, what she did to transition to locks. So, I could really see step by step what she did to achieve the beautiful locks she had. I also loved the fact that she had a lot of tutorials on different styles and curling methods. She demonstrated that there are so many ways to rock the locks!  I just became hooked on her channel and ultimately, she inspired me to get locks!

alex beginning

Where did you go to get the locks installed?

I went to a beauty college, and there were two students there who had locks. They were the ones assigned to do my hair.  I opted to use the comb coiling method to install my locks which gave me much more time before my hair locked permanently.  I felt really secure because here were two people that already achieved what I was aspiring to have. I knew that I was in good hands.

How did you feel when you first got them installed?

I felt really endogenous.  I didn’t feel sexy or feminine. I did, however, read a lot about the awkward stage in the beginning of your lock journey when your hair isn’t quite long enough to style. Essentially, you’re left with these little twists that are thin and without shape, but I was prepared for it and expected to go through that. I was willing to tough it out knowing that in the end, they would flourish and it would be worth it.

alex hatHow did you style your hair in that awkward period?

I wore a lot of hats, head bands, scarves, or anything to accessorize. I know it sounds a little hypocritical to cover them up, but it made it easier for me to pass the time quickly and not worry about how fast my hair was growing.

IMG_2821[1]How do you style your hair now that it’s longer?

I do pipe cleaner curls, suicide rolls, and fun up do’s. I get these ideas from youtube really. It’s actually a great source of inspiration! I’ve definitely ventured out of the hats and scarves routine I had last year.

What is your current lock regimen?

I wash my hair every 3 to 4 weeks and deep condition every time I wash my hair. I usually do an apple cider vinegar rinse every 2 months to get rid of product build up. I use coconut oil and argan oil on a daily basis to maintain moisture. Every now and then I use black Jamaican castor oil on my hair line just to thicken it  (I’ve always had finer hair towards my edges).

What would say are the most common misconceptions about people with dreads?

The first thing, is that most people think we don’t wash our hair. There are some people who have straighter hair and when they get dreads installed, they have to use the neglect method in order to utilize natural oils that their scalp produces to  lock their hair. Most people who have locks, however, have to wash and condition it to maintain a neat look and healthy hair.

Another common myth is that people with locks are not legitimate members of the natural hair community because our hair just grows no matter what. The truth is, our hair is in a shrunken state because it’s literally a permanent twist style. So, in reality, our hair takes even longer to show off length.  Even with my hair being about shoulder length people compliment me about it, but then they follow up by saying, “oh, but it doesn’t count, because you have locks”. It makes me shake in my boots!

Lastly, people often think of overgrown, under kept, locks that we typically associate with the Rastafarian culture. Not only is that ethnocentric and disrespectful to people who have locks for religious reasons, but it’s also just one small part of a much larger dread lock culture.   Everyone has their own reasons for getting dreads. Some people get them and are more clean, professional, and neat while others are more liberal about their style and there’s nothing wrong with either life style choices.

What are your dread locks goals?

I really want my hair to be down to my butt! Then maybe I’ll do something crazy like try to take them out, but we’ll see.

alex dreadsWhat would you say to anyone who is considering getting dread locks?

just do it! you have a good month or two before your hair fully locks if you used the twisting method to install them, so you can totally take it out if you feel like it’s not for you. It really doesn’t hurt to try.  Even after years of having them, it is possible to remove them. Have patience during the early stage while your hair looks shorter. Do your research and learn how to take care  of it. Once you find a couple styles to rock, you’ll love it!

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most importantly, stay calm, and love your natural hair 🙂

United Members

United Member Roy Lee

roy lee 213-37

Meet Roy Lee!

Roy ia martial artist, musician, and training in the field of phlebotomy. He attended Gwinnett Tech, went to training school for phlebotomy, and teaches martial arts at Total Boxing. Roy also plans on going back to school next year.

What is your nationality?

 I am black, white, and Native American. My grandmother says that we have Thai in the family as well, but who knows!
Have you always had big hair growing up?
No, I’ve always had a buzz cut as a kid and haven’t even started growing my hair out until my junior  year of high school. Once I did that, I grew it out a lot and then I cut it, grew it out again, and cut it again. It was like a cycle.

Why did you decide to cut your hair?

Mainly, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a job. As a young man, it’s hard for people to take you seriously if you don’t have a sharp hair cut. I’ve been encouraged by a lot of people to get my hair cut as well, so I gave in.

Where did you go to get your current haircut?
I actually went to Great Clips! The stylist that cut my hair had a good understanding of what I was going for even though I had trouble explaining it to her. I was surprised, she really hooked me up!

Have you  noticed a difference in your professional life with shorter hair? Do people take  you more seriously?
There hasn’t been much of a difference so far professionally. Socially speaking, I haven’t traveled to other circles to see if people see me differently at first glance. To be honest, I wish just kept growing it out. 

How does your family feel about your hair?
My mom was always telling me to cut my hair. She’s very adamant on me getting a hair cut. Even though I didn’t cut all of it off, she does like the haircut I have right now. 

What is your current hair regimen? 
Right now, I wash my hair every other day. I condition it every day and I apply leave-in conditioner every day after I wash or co-wash. Occasionally, I put gel in it for styling.