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Curly Nikki

Cree Summer Talks Natural Hair and Mommyhood

By January 27th, 202155 Comments

Cree Summer, one of the original natural hair idols, is On The Couch! And being the big kid that I am, I must say that it was pretty damn cool speaking with the woman behind Susie Carmichael, *whispers loudly* the only brown Rugrat. Her voice has breathed life into countless cartoon characters, but many remember her as the cute and quirky Freddie, from ‘A Different World’. During the interview she dished about her new baby girl, Brave, the resulting ‘Mom Bun’, and revealed that despite making a positive impact and being identified by her curly hair on ‘A Different World’, she wasn’t really feeling it. Enjoy!

Cree Summer Talks Natural Hair and Mommyhood
CN:Tell us your hair story!

Cree: It’s so funny, I’ve never thought about my hair story. As a girl, it was probably the bane of my existence. I went to a predominately white school… it was just myself and one other African-Canadian boy. I hated my hair. I wanted it to be straight and I wanted it to be blond. I remember one pitiful attempt to have bangs. I would use lots of hair spray and hold them down with a rag. I remember going to school and the bangs slowly rising until they looked like an awning or a visor. I was mortified! The journey went on like that for years and years.

Believe it or not, on ‘A Different World’, I was very unhappy with my hair. People don’t know that. That was not a happy hair time for me but I’m happy that people were inspired by it though. Debbie Allen had taken my hair and dyed it red and they used to curl it with a curling iron, and it wasn’t until I left ‘A Different World’ at 23, that I learned how to do my hair and fell in love with it.

I’ve always been natural and had never done anything to it besides dye it. I was on a television show called ‘Sweet Justice’ where it became blond for a while and then a show called ‘Courthouse’ where I wore it jet black. It’s always been curly and when I started making records and touring with my music, I started loving my hair. It really became an identity… something for me to hide behind when I was insecure, and to show off when I felt confident. But now I’m in a different stage, I’m in my 40’s, I’m a mother and it’s in a bun. I call it the Mom Bun. Are you familiar?!

CN: Girl, yes. I used to style my hair every other day… now I go weeks between washes. I just don’t have the time.

Cree: Right, you don’t have time, and you can’t wear it down because little hands are going to pull it. It’s been in what I call the Mom Bun for the last 9 months! I’d love to wear it down again, I miss it, I miss it a lot, it’s apart of my sexuality among other things, and I know I’ll get back there, but right now, it’s just back in the ‘Mom Bun’.

Cree Summer Talks Natural Hair and Mommyhood
she notes, ‘this is not a pic of the ‘Mom Bun’. This is ‘Single Bun’. [Laughter] This one is organized and purposeful. The ‘Mom Bun’ is higher and messier!’

CN: I’ve done the ‘Mom Bun’, I’ve rocked hippy chic with twists and cute tams, and most recently, I’ve adopted Shanti’s Retro French twist. You must try it! I’ll send you the tutorial.

Cree: I like the sound of that already. Please email that to me right away… I’m sure my man will thank you too!

CN: So how do you achieve your Mom Bun?

Cree:I get the tangles out in the shower with Kerasilk conditioner. I love that conditioner, it gets through the tangles in no time. I then put in a leave-in conditioner from Whole Foods- Giovanni Direct Leave-in. If I have 5 extra minutes, I’ll comb through it and make it a nice, neat bun, if not, I just leave it curly, pull it back and put an elastic on it and take two pieces and twist them for frill. It’s really raggedy, I must admit!

CN: It sounds cute though… Mom Chic?

Cree: Mom chic, yes let’s call it that to make ourselves feel better!

CN: When you have the time to wear it out and curly, what does your routine look like?

Cree: I get in the shower, I put the Kerasilk in, I comb it through gently, put in the leave-in and usually follow up with a gel product, like FX Special Effects Curls Up. I scrunch up my hair in the shower, then I put it in a quick dry towel, take that towel off and put it in another quick dry towel and leave that on for maybe 20 minutes. Finally, I take it down and I don’t touch it until it’s dry. Even if I’m walking around looking like 1990’s Michael, I just leave it…don’t touch it! Then, once it’s dry, I’ll shake it out to achieve volume. It’s really all about letting it air dry or otherwise the curls will get funky or frizzy.

CN: Do you use your fingers or a comb?

Cree: A wide tooth comb. Which was, I’m sure you can relate, a major discovery in my 20s. It was like the clouds parted and the wide tooth comb came down. And I was like ‘yes, I can get through these tangles!’. I remember sitting there with my mother detangling my hair and it was really just torture. My mother put my hair in two braids until I was 15. I still rock 2 braids, even though I look like some old lady in Forever 21 clothes… I still rock it. I can’t wait until my daughter is older so I can put two little braids in her hair!

CN: What about your daughter’s hair? Is she a fellow curly?!

Cree: It’s actually very straight and very blond! My father has blue eyes, blond hair and my mother is very dark skinned. My husband is not mixed, and he’s maybe a shade or two darker than I am. And here comes my very fair skinned, straight haired, gray eyed daughter! If my daughter didn’t look like him, I’d have a lot of explaining to do! It’s still early, and it looks like it’s starting to get a curl to it, but for the most part, it’s very light and very straight.

CN: Any advice for the future curly moms out there?

Cree: I wouldn’t want to give advice to new mothers, but I would love to share the importance of knowing your rights in childbirth and to research your childbirth options. Women spend more time researching a new car than their births and I would also suggest if they are interested, to check out, ‘The Business of Being Born’, a documentary produced by Ricki Lake. I had my daughter, Brave LittleWing at home and it was a safe, deep and magical experience .

CN: Tell us about your current and upcoming projects…

Cree: I am now working on ‘Robot Monster’, a new cartoon, and the new ‘Bat Man’ series for Warner Bros. I’m also in a new Disney cartoon/musical with Mandy Moore called ‘Oki’ s Oasis’. In that, I play a vain pig, the nerve [laughter], named Penelope Pig. I am also on an MTV show currently running called ‘Good Vibes’ and always guesting on many cartoons. I am very blessed in the world of Voice Over. It is an amazing job that children really love so it keeps me young too. I have just begun preproduction on a new album! It’s been a long time coming and I am so excited. But the most important job in my life now, is being Brave’s Mother and a good partner to my love Angelo.

Cree’s Savior Self- 2007


  • thatnypoetgirl says:

    I love love love CREE! OMG! I was never into my natural hair when I watched A Different World but I WAS a mix of her character and Jada Pinkett! Awkward and "hood" smh! LOLOLOL! I am so glad that she didn't fall into the child star abyss like so many of the child stars we grew up watching. Congrats to Cree on love, career and her newest addition as well as the at-home birthing experience! Kudos!

  • lilkunta says:

    Wow cant believe I missed this interview. Like you CN cree's freddie was and IS ( ADW reruns on tv1) my hair idol. Im in disbelief that she hated Winifred Brooks' hair on ADW. I thought her hair was naturally curly like that so Im surprised that she says it was that way bc Debbie Allen/set hairstylist curled it with a barrell.

    When my nieces are over we watch Hub/ NickJr/ Cartoon Network and I instantly recognise Cree's voice.
    Congrads on getting married to Angelo and your daughter Brave.
    i'd love to do voice work as it pays well and seems like it is stress free.

  • Aisha says:

    How did I miss this interview! This woman is my idol. I am so happy to hear she got married and had a baby, I remember her mentioning wanting to be a mom a few years back. Can't wait to hear her new album, I am so excited by all this.

  • The Melanista says:

    Freddie was a my fave on ADW!!! I just loved her character and her free spirit! She definitely still has it and I'm so happy to see her continued success! Great interview, Nikki! I love the song in the video! Powerful!

  • Anonymous says:

    Freddie was the epitome of the earth child born from the natural earth movement. She was beautiful, powerful, and defender of all things righteous. Freddie was an amalgam, an ideal.

    Cree Summer Franck was the actress who portrayed Freddie, and we must respect that Cree is flesh and blood, and entitled to her likes, dislikes and opinion.

    Cree is so beautiful, and life has been good to her – she's been blessed with a lovely family, survived the ravages Hollywood inflicts on the young, maintained her integrity, and her talent continues to be a viable commodity for her.

    Well done Sister Girl, well done!

  • Levone says:

    Great interview! Loved 'Freddie' on a Different World!

  • Anonymous says:

    Awesome interview. She sounds like a familiar friend.

  • Tabitha says:

    Yes, an interview with the Lisa Bonet would cool. In addition, to Rachel True.

  • Anonymous says:

    omg! I have always admired Cree Summer and HER HAIR! Loved her hair when I first saw it on "A Different World". So glad to see her featured. i am more inspired! Can you tell I'm happy about this? 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    I like the name, Brave! LOL! I guess wanted to give her daughter a name that was kind of Native American. Nice interview! It appears that Cree is as nice in person as she is on television.


  • Anonymous says:

    i love the comment about the clouds parting and the wide tooth comb coming down. my sentiments exactly.

  • Doc says:

    yay for this interview. i love me some cree summer 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for interviewing her! I loved her hair on a Different World but I guess once again, we're reminded that a lot of people didn't always like their curly hair. Glad to hear she's doing well and is a mommy now. 🙂 ~KF519

  • Bridgette says:

    Beautiful spirit…loved this interview & video, very inspiring and uplifting. The message in this song is one I've always told my childred, YOU are responsible for your own happiness and wellbeing–powerful stuff!

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG…. Cree Summer… my first natural hair crush!!!!
    Congrats to the baby ( lovely name btw) and yay to the upcoming album… can't wait…
    Thank you Nikki, you are the best!!!!!

    Love, Monika

  • Anonymous says:

    LOVE her! I'm so excited to here about a new album.

  • Erica S says:

    I love that she's decided to still go natural after all these years. I remember watching A different world and admiring her hair and hair color! Congrats on the new baby and all your upcoming adventures.

  • Berthia D. says:

    Omg Cree! I love her so much because of her down to earth personality and her hair is truly an inspiration to me.

  • Anonymous says:

    IS that Zoe Kravitz in the video?? If not, it looks just like her (and Lisa Bonet).
    Cool interview. Cree is like a hip Mother Earth. I have always admired her overall natural and seemingly warm attitude and approach to life. There has always appeared to be nothing artificial about her. I am soo impressed with that, given all the artificial madness in Hollywood.

  • Anonymous says:

    Cree Summer, Nikki????? Really??? Awesome interview!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cree is one of my hair "idols". Thank you so much!

  • Barcelona says:

    I LOVED this interview. SO glad to see she also delivered at home and is advocating natural birth.
    I have locs and I would TRULY appreciate it if you could get an interview with Lisa Bonet I am so curious about her hair and exercise routine

  • Coutman says:

    Thank you Nikki!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Miche'al says:

    Cree is the best!! I have always loved her personality and style!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    *claps hands in delight*

    SO glad Cree is doing well in work, life, and of course hair! Thanks for this interview.

    And I second the other commenter's request for a Lisa Nicole Carson interview. I know she's had some serious health issues in the last few years…

  • Sonya says:

    Yay! Cree! I love her and her beautiful spirit. And, yes, I always wanted her curls.

  • Audrey...Miss Moon's Musings says:

    Hearing that my shero has an album in the works makes this the BEST DAY EVER!!!

  • Fallon says:

    I love love love her! I'm only 25 but I remeber watching her on tv and wanting her hair! I randomly came on and saw this interview with her and got so excited. We share the same birthday, always felt a little connected to her…maybe thats why.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love her. I am forever watching A Different World reruns and she cracks me up every ep!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article! I was excited to see an interview from Miss Cree. Love her name. Anyhoo, I always admired her hair. It's so beautiful. Congrats to her on her new baby.


  • Sophie says:

    Good grief… I can't keep up with the flyness of all the people who are featured on here! I admired her hair before I even knew what being natural was (when I was watching Rugrats, in which she voiced Susie!). Another great interview.

  • Anonymous says:

    So glad to hear from Ms. Cree! I feel like I grew up with her because ADW is definitely one of my favorite shows of all time. Cree and her hair are gorgeous, and congrats on the birth of little Brave!

  • ShoeHOTLINE says:

    Great interview Nikki. I have always enjoyed Cree's work.

  • Tabitha says:

    Girl, I was wondering why the lovely Cree Summers hadn't been interviewed and in fact, I'd recently thought about sending an email to ask for her to be interviewed. So imagine my surprise today when I saw this interview. Can you say, the power of the law of attraction. Loved the interview!!

  • Anonymous says:

    She does the best cartoon voices. She used to do the voice of the black girl (named Miranda) on the cartoon As Told By Ginger. I loved that show and She was also on Jenny The Teenage Robot. She has that voice that's so recognizable! I love it.

  • Pecancurls says:

    Great interview. Always loved her hair and free spirit back in the day.

  • My3BoyZ says:

    Definitely an original hair idol! Her and Lark Voorhies. Different World is one of my all time favorite shows. I'm working on my mom/wife/teacher bun now…

  • Anonymous says:

    Great interview. Love Cree 🙂

  • T Monique says:

    I love her

  • Nikki Aimee says:

    I was watching a music video of Cree's and I thought to myself, "I wonder if CurlyNikki will interview Cree?" And whatdoyaknow… you did! Thank you SO much!

    Like KJ above, I would watch A Different World as a little girl and wish to God I had hair like "Freddie". Years later, found out I do. 🙂 . Love Cree Summers. Love this interview. I definitely laughed at the "mom bun" because I'm not a mother but I still wear one… very often… if my hair isn't in "Heidi braids". My excuse is school and working out.

  • mothereartha says:

    this rocks! you are getting all of my childhood idols! i loved freddie! different world was my FAVORITE tv show…even more so than the Cosby Show. Thanks Nik! SCORE.

  • MB430 says:

    Oh crap she mentioned an FX product. Thats been my little secret for months now. *rushes off to stock up*

  • wavezncurlz says:

    Love it! She's my age, looking fierce, and a mom to a young daughter just like me! We both were wearing our natural hair when natural wasn't cool! Because of her role on ADW, my nickname in college was "Freddie".

  • Dana says:

    I have always loved Cree's hair even before I went natural. I often wondered why they "messed" with her hair by using curly irons and dye while she was on "A Different World". Funny how even on our "own" shows we can't just rock what God gave us in it's natural state…..interesting.

    Thanks for sharing! Cree is one of my longtime hair idols!

  • Anonymous says:

    Cree Summer! I adore her and still love her character on ADW. It's always interesting to learn about the background prep for characters and what the actors really thought/think about aspects of their characters.

  • Anonymous says:

    I saw that ricki lake docu…if you haven't seen it let me describe Ricki Lake sitting in a tub at home ass naked screaming!!! Better yet, check it out for yourself. Still, she was right though…birthing in the hospital is a big ol scam to get you a c-section and to kick your ass out.

  • leesicam says:

    Love her! Also loved her on Code Name Kids next door!

  • DiJah says:

    I loved her on 'A Different World' and I always loved her hair and wanted mine curly like hers.
    I think it's cute she named her daughter Brave, it's like she automatically has to be brave lol.
    I hope she tries Shanti's retro twist and send pics so we can see the outcome : )
    All the best Cree!

  • CurlyInTheA says:

    Cree was my first curl crush, LOL. Love her! She was definitely a breath of curly, fresh air in the 80s, when long, straight hair ruled. @Nik, can you find my other curl crush, Lisa Nicole Carson and profile her, too? LOL.

  • Edwina@FASHION+ART says:

    She had a fun look on A Different World. But isn't it ironic? She was portraying this supposedly free spirited non-conformist on the show and yet, she wasn't even happy with her characters' hairstyle. hmmmm…

  • curlytarheel says:

    Thank you for sharing with us this interview with Cree Summer! Freddie was one of my favorite ADW characters as she never shied away from who she was and was bold in her convictions. I happened to catch a few re-runs of ADW on TVOne during the holiday break and was reminded of how quintessential a show it was in the depictions of our people. I, like KJ, remembered envying her hair not knowing that mine was exactly the same. Thank you Cree/Freddie for having been such an example for me so many years ago. Many blessings to you and your family.

  • Thrifty curly says:

    She has always been one of my hair idols,Its sad to hear that she didnt like her hair all that much in the pass.I on the other hand absolutely loved it and still love it, its good to hear that she is doing well.

  • Anonymous says:

    Congrats to Cree on her new baby! Her hair has always been gorgeous. Surprised to hear she didn't like it on ADW.

    Please make another album. I still play Street Faerie weekly.

  • Anonymous says:

    Aw, I love Cree Summer! I hear her voice in a lot of shows and always recognize it. 🙂

  • KJ says:

    Nikki As soon as I saw the tweet with Cree Summer I instantly clicked it! I remember being a little girl watching A Different World saying I WANT HER HAIR! Not knowing then that I had it! I loved her as character Freddie. Memories! Thanks for sharing.

  • Bree says:

    I love this!! Her hair has always screamed freedom. Interesting name for her daughter, but I've always loved CREE!!

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