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More than just hair

Tomorrow comedian Chris Rock adds a new entry on his resume: Documentary filmmaker.

Tomorrow comedian Chris Rock adds a new entry on his resume: Documentary filmmaker.

After a career spent making people laugh, in Good Hair, Rock is tackling a subject that sounds light hearted, but has deeper roots — the relationship African-American women have with their hair.

“When people first heard I was doing it they kind of thought it was going to be frivolous,” he says. “They thought it would be some version of Punk’d where I exposed people for not having their own hair or whatever and they see the movie and they are surprised.”

Surprised perhaps that Rock uses the subject of a cultural obsession with hair as a starting point to address larger issues.

“It’s hair,” he says. “It’s self esteem. It’s race. It’s how we look at ourselves. It’s the beauty industry. It’s a black movie. It’s a white movie. It’s an American movie. It’s a world movie. It’s a really gay movie. It’s a lot of movie.”

Rock’s formal foray into the culture of hair was inspired by a question his daughter asked — “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?”— but he had his own experience with toxic hair relaxers years before.

“I’ve had my hair relaxed and it burned,” he said. “It feels like having your head set on fire. I stopped when I got Lethal Weapon. It was literally like, ‘I got a million dollars and burning my scalp ... that is not being rich.’ I dreaded it. I thought if I can’t make money without doing this then I’m just not going to make any money.”

He has, of course, made money without sacrificing his scalp.

His career is thriving — he has two features coming out next year, including Grown Ups opposite his old SNL partner Adam Sandler — and, he says, Good Hair may not be his last documentary.

“I just have to find the right topic,” he says. “You can’t just do it because you have a slot. ‘OK, it’s been a year!’ That doesn’t work for me. This one was really from my heart.

“I’m not gonna get rich off of this, but this really, really came from heart.”

 
 
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