A Florida photographer is celebrating the history of Black hair in print magazines and commercials through a new short film.
Titled, “Heavy is the Head,” the short film is the creative work of Lakeland, Florida, photographer Juniper Johnson.
In an interview with Patch, Johnson said the short film aims to pay homage to both Jet and Ebony magazine covers and the classic Afro Sheen commercials of the 1970s.
“The Afro Sheen commercials are beautiful,” she said. “They’re always talking about Nubian queens and they all have afros and are all adorned in these different types of jewelry and I just loved the look of it. I wanted to recreate a story set within an Afro Sheen commercial.”
The film will be shot in Orlando and will incorporate photo elements along with video footage. Johnson also hopes to highlight statistics about Black hair and the economic power that Black hair drives.
Johnson is funding the project with an IndieGoGo campaign — through which she is looking to raise $3000.
“Did you know that Black people spend an average of $1.2 billion on hair products annually?” Johnson questions in the opening line of her IndieGoGo campaign. “Socially speaking, the way our hair looks is connected to our identity. Our pride and joy often stems from our presentation and, by virtue, representation.”
Johnson is a graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.
Her senior year documentary photography multimedia project was centered around the history of Black women’s hair in relation to the CROWN Act.
She created a multimedia experience out of her work on the project, with the final product including images of her interview subjects and clips from their interviews. The project was displayed at the Deborah M. Cooley Photography Center.
She credits that senior year project as helping inspire her short film idea.
“People could just grab the headphones off the wall to listen to the interview. That was really nice and seeing people engaging with these stories and experiences showed me how immersive this project can actually be. I knew immediately that I wanted to expand it,” she said.
Johnson’s short film comes amid the continued work to get the CROWN Act passed in state legislatures across the nation.
The Crown Act was most recently signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas. It will go into affect in September.
A total of 22 states have enacted the Crown Act.