The story behind Rihanna’s dreadlocks in Ocean’s 8
Rihanna is one of the eight talented actresses that star in one of 2018’s most anticipated films – Ocean’s 8. In celebration of the film’s premiere on June 8, Refinery29 will be spilling the tea about everything you might want to know about it. They started with an interview with Yusef Williams, Rihanna’s longtime hairstylist. He explained the deeper meaning of Rihanna’s dreadlocks and how it represents her character Nine Ball who, as you might know by now, is a hacker in the film and wasn’t originally written to be Caribbean.
“We thought it would be strong. Her locs would maintain that tie to Africa. She’d keep her accent. She wasn’t just going to be some American girl in this movie. Nine Ball is still a Caribbean girl that just happens to be in America.”
Rihanna proved that locs are actually suitable for work, parties or Met Gala heist. That’s right. As Yusef Williams said, they’re pretty badass and he couldn’t really imagine Nine Ball without them as it is part of her identity. Read what he said about the process of creating the look and how filming went.
Creating Nine Ball
“Before they actually filmed the movie, I went in for a meeting [with director Gary Ross and Rihanna] so we could all figure out who this girl is, what she looks like, what she dresses like, and how she wears her hair. We had a lot of references, and dreadlocks were something that we always wanted to do. Production gave us a lot of freedom to create her character visually and play with her look. Gary and wardrobe trusted that we would just nail it.
We wanted this girl to be cool, chill, and very minimal. She would wear the same things over and over again. But I think the one thing she probably cared about the most was her hair. When people have locs, it’s kind of like their crown. It’s their pride and joy. It’s like a flower… you gotta nourish it and watch it grow. Hair played a really big part in who Nine Ball came to be.”
Installing Nine Ball’s Locs
“I had to fly my assistants to Paris, and all four of us were putting in locs, because we needed to get her done within three hours. That is really a lot of work that would probably take 10 hours for one person to do. It’s braiding the foundation and then wrapping and coiling the hair. We finished at 2 a.m., then we got on a plane and started taping Ocean’s.
We didn’t use Marley hair, which is a little bit more refined, pretty. Instead, we went with a kinkier, looser textured hair for a reggae feel. We didn’t do too much parting, either; when you start to part and make sections, the hair becomes a little bit unrealistic. We haven’t relaxed Rih’s hair for years now, so we wanted a lighter, natural-textured hair to match.”
Filming with locs
“As we filmed, we had to thin the locs out. People that grow locs have been with them, and have time during the growth process to strengthen their core and whatnot. When you just throw 12 years of locs on somebody overnight, it feels like you have a fucking Toyota on your head.
We used tons of Shea butter and black seed oil to keep her hair strong. Those are our go-to’s: olive oil, lotion, anything to keep the hair moisturized. For her edges, I used a lot of black seed oil. I’ll mix that with a little bit of gel or pomade and then smooth them up… also letting them kind of curl up when they wanted to, just to create that realness.
After the hair is braided, I like to soften it up by soaking it in apple cider vinegar, hot water, and then drying it so it can have a little bit of movement to it. And then we wrap the braids. You can also braid the hair with yarn and then wrap it with the Afro hair, which makes it less heavy. We tried that towards the end, because it was just easier for her to be on set all day, robbing the Met and whatnot.”
Rihanna’s love for locs
“[Rihanna] channeled her inner Lauryn Hill and those other dreadlocked girls from back in that day who kind of just did their thing. You know she’s from Barbados — she knows what to do with dreadlocks. It probably was the easiest style she’s ever had, since she got to be free and cool and see herself differently. She’s a huge pop star, and then we kind of stripped her down and gave her locs that we didn’t make super, super pretty. She made them glamorous when she wanted, and then super casual when she wanted. I thought it was cool to see her locs own the night whenever she went out. You will be seeing her with locs again, for sure. I don’t know when, but it will happen.”