My name is Rhonda Ray and I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. I have a B.A. in Radio, TV and film. I’m a frotographer and I created one of the first Afrocentric web series that starred 4 Natural Hair Actresses called “Afro City”
How long have you been natural? Have you always embraced your coils?
I’ve been natural for 13 years. I haven’t always embraced my coils and I was so excited to get my first perm for my 6th grade graduation.
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why? I went to the barber and told them to chop off all the perm to the new growth, because the perm was starting to break my hair off and irritate my scalp. I had friends perming my hair to save money and they over processed my hair. I left the barber shop with a TWA. Never knew it would grow out so much to where I could have so much fun with up do’s, Twist outs, Braid outs, Afro Puffs and Fros.
How would you describe your hair?
I describe my hair as Kinky-Coily. I love it big and embrace the frizziness. I like it big and fluffy. I think my natural hair is more attractive on me and others versus wearing straight, flat hair.
What has been the most memorable part of your journey?Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part of the journey has been trying different styles and just figuring out what styles look best and work best for me. They didn’t have YouTube around when for most of my natural journey. I just took my journey one step at a time and if I saw other naturals out with a natural hair style I would try it.
What are some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles?
My favorite is the chunky braid-out or twist-out. But the Afro puff, or my French roll puff are the easiest go-to after a fresh wash.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
Some of my family and friends thought it was just a phase when I did the big chop and that I would soon return to the perm. But 12 yeas later I haven’t looked back. Some would give me the side eye because they weren’t used to black women wearing their natural hair, especially in those in between stages when it's not quite short but not long. My mom likes some of my natural styles better that others. I would think she would be used to it because she used to wear TWA’s, Afros and a big blonde Afro back in the day!
How is dating as a naturalistas?
As far as dating, I do think that when I went natural, I started attracting a different type of guy than what I did with straight hair. When I first went natural, I think I attracted more “conscience” brothers & white guys as oppose to when I wore it straight. And now that my natural hair is longer, I think I attract all types of men when it’s stretched a little in a twist or braid out. I could be wrong but it seemed that way. It also seems as if their approach was different. I got a lot of “Hey sistah” and ”How you doing Queen” (lol) but I’ll take that. I don’t know if they thought natural hair represented being more conscience, deeper, educated and even being a vegetarian... Of course every natural is not all of those things. “It’s just Natural Hair” it’s what we were born with. But I kind of understand that when the current natural hair movement started, it took a certain type of woman to go against a beauty standard and embrace her natural hair with confidence and without shame. Now it’s becoming more popular and accepted because it’s so versatile and beautiful. It’s becoming a normal alternative for black women, that even the demand for Afro Hair weaves are up. A few years ago I remember a young lady asking me what type of hair I was wearing and I looked at her crazy like, this is my hair and I thought to myself you can't buy hair this kinky. But later I found out that you can (lol). Who would have thought that women would want to buy & get Kinky Afro weaves?! Have you seen the Crochet braids and the Kinky Clips. They look so real. Anything that represents our natural hair is alright with me.,
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites,YouTuber’s, or blogs?
I love the different natural collections they put together on Pinterest and the natural hair Tumbler blogs, they are so inspirational and they lead to so much good information and resources for naturals. I’ve just recently started getting more in to You Tube. On You Tube I like Kash TV, Mahogany Curls, and Make up an beautie Junkie.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
I would say hang in there on your natural hair journey because it does get easier and even fun at times. It will definitely teach you patience. I sometimes look at it as therapy, “Hair Therapy” when sitting in the mirror or watching TV twisting my hair, it gives so much time to be creative, reflect and think about your life and your next move. Embrace the obstacles because the journey only gets better as you get to know your hair. And trust me, when it come to hair products and techniques, “What works for someone else may not work for you”. The journey can be frustrating for a lot of us and that’s why I came up with the “Afrolicious Hair Affair” and organization in Los Angeles that puts on Natural Hair events through out the year that celebrate, educate and inspire women on their natural hair journey. I want to travel with these events to different cities and encourage other women. You can find out about our events at www.AfroliciousHairAffair.com
Where can people find you for more information?
For more information you can find me at www.RhondaRay.net and on my web series www.AfroCityTV.com As far as style, my philosophy is “It’s not about the cost of the clothes but the style and how you wear it”. I love sample sales in the fashion district and I love shopping at thriftstores searching for amazing pieces. One of my favorite finds was this green and red African print dress. I like to wear different styles but for the most part, I would describe my style as “Bohemian Chic”. For more style tips, you can checkout my style blog at www.Afrotography.com You can checkout some of my photography at www.RhondaRayPhotography.com