I’ve gotta say it, Kourtney Richard wrote this one out of the park and the acting by these talented women came together beautifully, and the director, Morenike Joela Evans did such a phenomenal job bringing everything to life. I’ve only recently stumbled upon Disney Channel’s daughter/father comedy series, Sydney to the Max – somehow I’ve only realized in the past couple of months that I have access to DisneyNOW! My kids are all older teens and adults now and don’t watch the newer Disney Channel shows anymore. *Insert sad face* However, my nieces and nephew do, and my niece K has been raving about this being her FAVORITE show! Thank you to Disney for providing the early screening and sponsoring our Twitter chat to have open, honest conversations within our community to celebrate our hair.
This episode shows the complexity, beauty and celebration of Black hair!
As a community leader for Disney Moms of Color, we were given an amazing opportunity to partner with Disney in promoting this specific episode within our community and beyond. Growing up, many of us have experienced shame in wearing our Black hair in its natural state. As a biracial woman what I have come to love about my hair is its versatility & beauty. I am more comfortable and proud of my natural curls and I do still put heat on my hair in the form of flat and curling irons, but stopped chemical relaxers and straighteners almost a decade ago. I’m learning to do more hair care and being intentional in the time to actually do my hair. I’m learning that it is perfectly okay to struggle and that I am not alone in my struggle, which this episode really showed me, too. I’m also learning that no matter how I choose to wear MY hair, it is that – MINE and I get to celebrate it however I’d like!
Outside of other nuances of growing up and living between cultures as a biracial woman, I must say that I never felt like I belonged fully with either culture. During my tween & teen years, a crucial time when lessons of self love and acceptance are paramount, I wasn’t around girls my age that looked like me. And if I am perfectly honest, I didn’t feel like my Black family members ever accepted me because I was not full Black and those that could have helped in doing my hair instead made me feel like I was less than since my hair was different.
Being proud of our crowns
What I loved about this episode is the support system that Sydney has in her Dad, both Grandmothers, and her friend, Jada. Instead of making her feel bad about not wearing her natural hair, or the sheer fact that she had no idea how to, Jada encourages her to be proud of her hair and to try it and see how she feels.
If you haven’t seen this show, you really should check it out. It is about both Sydney and her dad, Max’s relationship. They show flashbacks to when Max was Sydney’s age and it is both cute and hilarious. In this special episode we get to see Sydney’s late mom, Alisha (Cassidey Fralin), go through her hair journey and having the confidence to wear her crown how she feels best, regardless of even what her mom thinks.
I appreciate this journey that transpires for Sydney in this episode and also how we get to see Grandma Maya and her late mom Alisha share their moments and truth when it comes to relaxing her hair. I remember the smell and burning feeling of relaxers on my hair growing up, always running around with scabs on my head from scratching and if we couldn’t make the salon, I’d end up in the kitchen with my Mom and some Just for Me box relaxer (if you know you know).
I’ve always heard comments from Black women about how I had “good” hair but I struggled with it and didn’t have anyone to teach me how to properly take care of my crown. Or, I was teased because I legit had no idea what I was doing or asked questions but was made to feel bad about it. So, I never talked about it and stopped asking questions. My mama took me to white salons, even though I am not white. She really did her best with what she had and “managed” my hair probably until junior high school. Once I got a hold of doing it myself, I usually just put it in a bun or ponytail. It was a very rare occasion if my natural curls were down blowing in the wind before I became a Mama.
This episode is for us
This episode has so much to offer its viewers of any age, really showing the struggle and importance of seeing our hair as our crowns, an accessory to our beauty and part of our identity. We had the opportunity to screen the episode and moderate a live Q&A for guests with Ruth, Cassidey, Carlease and Kourtney, and it was just a really special conversation. They each shared parts of their hair stories and journeys and encouraged all of us to take pride in our hair because we are magic.
I’m excited to share more on that conversation soon. Our head mama and founding community leader, Amiyrah Martin, moderated this important conversation and when I wasn’t crying or laughing I was beaming with joy for all of us as this episode touched so many hearts and reminded us of our Black girl magic. I can’t wait to see more from Sydney to the Max as they shared upcoming topics will include microaggressions and body shaming, important subjects that should continue to be in conversation with our families.
Until then, be sure to tune into this new episode on Friday, April 30th at 8:25 EDT/PDT and our Disney Moms of Color leaders invite you to join our sponsored Twitter chat Friday, April 30th 9pm PDT/ 6pm EDT as we dive deeper and share our hair stories and journeys!
About “The Hair Switch Project” Episode
In the new episode, Sydney begins to question her straight hairstyle after her classmate Jada suggests that she try wearing her hair natural sometimes. This sends Sydney on a hair journey tied to her cultural identity and memories of her late mom, Alisha. Her dad Max tries to help, but Sydney is still at a loss and calls on her grandmother Maya. Back in the ’90s, young Alisha is faced with a different hair dilemma when school picture day rolls around, and her mom has booked a salon appointment for her to get a relaxer. Alisha doesn’t know what to do because she loves her naturally coifed hair and feels like she loses a piece of herself every time she gets it straightened. Geared for Kids 6-11 and their families, “The Hair Switch Project” was written by Kourtney Richard and directed by Morenike Joela Evans, and premieres FRIDAY, APRIL 30 (8:25 p.m. EDT/PDT) on Disney Channel and DisneyNOW.
The series stars Ruth Righi as outgoing middle-schooler Sydney, Ian Reed Kesler as Max, Caroline Rhea as Judy Reynolds (in both decades), Ava Kolker as Sydney’s best friend Olive, Jackson Dollinger as young Max, and Christian J. Simon as young Max’s best friend, Leo. Returning guest stars include Cassidey Fralin as young Alisha, Carlease Burke as Maya (in both decades), and Julia Garcia as Emmy. Additional guest stars include Princess K. Mapp as Sydney’s classmate Jada, Shakira Ja’nai Paye as hairstylist Kellyn, and Nakia Burise as Nina in the ’90s.