I recently had a Twitter interview with Ivy Prosper , TV host on FevaTV in Canada, the Maternal Health Channel in Ghana, a beautiful writer and soon-to-be film director. She reveals her beauty secret on her natural hair and what she believes every Ghanaian woman is capable of.
Tell us more about yourself and your work.
I’m a freelance writer, Public Speaker and TV Host (or Presenter as they say in UK/Africa).I’m a creative person at heart with an eye for design and fashion since I was a child. Most recently I have been a TV Host & Reporter on a new TV network in Canada called FevaTV (First Entertainment Voice of Africa). My most exciting interviews recently were when I worked on the Red Carpet interviewing celebrities at the Toronto International Film Festival. Some of my memorable interviews have been with Chris Rock, Russell Peters, Van Vicker, Majid Michel, Biz Markie, Pepa (from Salt n Pepa), and Akon.
Now I’m currently working on a script for a series I plan to produce in the near future. I have many ideas for various projects I want to produce. Some I plan on filming in Ghana. One of the things I do that I’m quite passionate about is empowering young women and girls on issues of promoting a healthy self-esteem and body image. I’ve spoken to groups as large as 1000 people inspiring and helping youth to remain focused on positive things and having goals in life. I have an upcoming speaking engagement where I’ll be addressing how girls feel about themselves because of what they see in the media. I also have an event I’m planning for early 2015 focused on bringing women of colour together to share positive messages.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I’ve ever been given…that’s a tough question because there is so much advice that has been valuable throughout my life. Some I didn’t even realize at the time how good it was until I can look back at it in hindsight. I will mention something my mother always said to me and my siblings growing up. She always said it doesn’t matter what you do for a living. If you’re a garbage man, janitor, teacher, lawyer or doctor. As long as you do it with pride and you do it well. As long as you can take care of yourself and your family you can always wake up with self-respect..
If you could invent something what would it be?
A magic potion that would cure all disease in the world.
When did you start your natural hair regime?
I often get asked that question and I think it’s often a question people want to know theanswer to because women are looking to someone as an inspiration for how long they can remain ‘natural’. I’ve been natural nearly half my life. I’ve grown it, cut it, grown it again. Had breakage from braiding. Breakage from dryness. Grow again. Cut again. For me, going natural had nothing to do with any ‘movement’ or going ‘back to my roots’. It was really a decision made because it was expensive to keep relaxing my hair and I had an incident where thesalon left the relaxer on too long and I ended up with burned scalp that turned into an infection. Believe it or not I continued relaxing for a few years after that incident, but it always was inmy mind about how much damage was done. When it comes to natural hair there is no real science to it. I think that women have to stop having ‘hair envy’ of others. Because once a woman decides to ‘go natural’ there is now an obsession with the curl pattern or the length. Comparison to another woman’s hair can be a huge problem. It’s important to learn what your own hair does and work with that. Understanding that even on your own head there are different textures. The front of my hair is so much less difficult to comb than the middle of my head, where it’s thicker and much kinkier in texture.
One thing I can say is that natural hair is not ‘wash and go’ hair for everyone. It certainly isn’t for me. Once there is any length you will learn what to do and how to treat your own. I’ve always been blessed because when I used to relax my hair it was actually quite long so it was never an issue of wanting to ‘grow’ my hair. But over the years of being natural I have had to be patient with it and learn how to manage it.
How do you manage to keep it looking so fantastically soft and bouncy-looking?
My hair is work. It’s called setting aside Sunday to wash, blow out, twist sleep in the twist and and let it out the next day. But when I’m in Ghana…forget it! I’m lucky if my twist lasts a day. Everyone’s hair is different and it’s a matter of learning what works for you. It has been trial and error for a long time. Some days when I do something it looks amazing…then I do the same thing next week and I’m like, “What the heck! My hair didn’t do the same thing as last time.” Haha. The trials and tribulations of natural hair. I remember one day when I was filming on The Maternal Health Channel TV Series, we were in Labone and after we had taken a break from filming the producer said to me, “What happened to your hair?” It was so funny because I was sweating so much, the twists all came out and I had a fuzz-ball with no definition. I admit I do wear wigs on occasion on days when my hair just isn’t working and I have to work on camera. When filming for television having consistency is sometimes necessary. So sometimes I do cheat by embracing fake hair.
But 95% of the time I’m all natural.
What hair products are on your vanity at the moment?
At the moment I’ve been using Jamaican Black Castor Oil and all natural coconut oil on my hair. I wash and condition with Pantene Truly Natural products (available in USA).
Should every African woman go natural?
I think going natural is something that every woman should consider, however, you should understand that’s it’s not an easy venture if you’ve been used to relaxing your hair all your life. Learning the texture and how to manage it is most important. In Africa the women all have different hair textures. We have everything from the super kinky afro curls in Ghana to the loose curls we see on some Ethiopian, Somali and Eritrean women. I do think when it comes to hair it’s about choice, and that it’s important to understand why you’re making the choice. I admit to feeling a sense of pride when I see many women wearing their hair natural. I remember the days when salons in Ghana would constantly complain about my hair being natural. It still happens now but at least these days there are places like Twists& Locs in Osu that can help. Even in Canada and the USA there weren’t many options years ago for doing my hair at a salon. But now there has been such a growth in women embracing their kinky curls. Just look at Youtube and Instagram for all the natural hair tips. There are options and so many products to choose from. With so much choice and information it should not be a difficult decision to go natural. For me being natural is not about making a statement, but it’s about embracing another dimension of our beauty. If a woman wears her hair natural she shouldn’t be ridiculed for doing so. The sad reality is most people believe that relaxedand weaved hair looks better. We’ve been subconsciously conditioned to think that way. It comes from a Euro-centric standard of beauty and we see it every day in magazines, movies and television. I think it’s important to embrace all forms of beauty and not put one down over another. If a woman chooses to wear a wig, weave, braided extensions or straighten her hair, I think it’s a matter of choice, I don’t condemn her. I too have worn wigs and braided extensions. As long as a woman doesn’t think it’s superior to her own natural. As women we just love the versatility of changing our style. It’s ok as long as your decision to relax, wear weave or wigs isn’t because you think your own afro texture hair is ugly. You should embrace your own natural and choosing something else is just for style or fashion. I do think that natural hair has much more versatility than people realize. I can twist, braid, coil, curl and even press my hair bone straight when it’s natural.
What advice would you give to women out there?
I think that women need to prepare themselves for life without making their goal to find a rich man. All too often we hear women talking about growing up to marry a rich husband. Sure that would be great, but the reality is if he is rich, that’s his money. Even if he marries you it is a sense of power and control that he might have over you and he may see you as a dependent woman. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t discredit or place less value on a woman because she married a rich or wealthy man. A woman is more inclined to look for a man who can take care of her because women bear children. And as a woman you want to be assured that the man you choose has the ability not only to take care of you, but to also be able to take care of his children.
What I am speaking about is women whose sole purpose is finding a rich or wealthy man and never focusing on building themselves up as a woman of purpose. I remember sitting at a chop bar near Haatso-Atomic road area in Accra. There were three women eating together. One woman said she wanted to buy her own plot of land and build a home. The friend’s advice to her was to find a man who has a house and marry him. They told her not to waste her money on land. That’s one of the worst pieces of advice I have heard women giving a friend.
We don’t have to be rich or wealthy to find purpose in our lives. I believe that we should all find that one thing we love to do and feel a sense of fulfillment with. Do that and do it with purpose. Impact the lives of others.
I think women should find other women who are great role models they can learn from. Education not only comes from the classroom, but also from other women who have made an impact in their careers, community and family.
Women should focus on education, personal growth and making an impact in other people’s lives.
What’s your favourite movie scene?
My favourite movie scene? Now you’re asking a really difficult question. How can I have just one answer to this question? There are so many. I have to be honest, I don’t have just one.I will say that one of my favourite parts of film is the musical score. The music that sets the scene, sets the mood is so critical to the emotion we feel in a movie. I’m not talking about just a movie soundtrack but the music, sound effects – musical score that makes or breaks the scene.
One of my favourite movies for that is Transformers (2007). It’s actually one of my favourite movies period. I can watch that over and over and over. One of my favourite scenes comes from that film. It’s the scene where the yellow Camaro transformer (Bumblebee) transforms back into a car, opens the door and waits for the lead character Sam and the girl Mikaela girl to get in. Sam says,”He wants us to get in the car.” Mikaela responds with, “…And go where?” Then he says, “Fifty years from now when you’re looking back at your life don’t you want to say you had the guts to get in the car?” They look at each other and then both get in the car.
To me that scene represents that monumental moment in all our lives when we are faced with a question. Usually one that will make the course of our lives change either for the good or the bad. Do you take a risk or not? It’s all about the choices we make.
Another favourite scene is from an old movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s when Ferris is lying on his bed looks at the camera and says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
If you had to change something about yourself?
I think we all have something we’d like to change about ourselves. It’s the essence of always wanting to improve who we are. If we didn’t want to change, then it means we have no desire to really live.
When I was growing up there were so many things I wanted to change about myself. But as I have grown and matured I realize that the things I thought were imperfect and wanted to change were actually perfect for the person I am. I‘ve learned to appreciate everything now.
To see more of Ivy Prosper’s work, check out her amazingness here.