Paula Jai Parker is an actress and comedian known for her role in Friday, Hustle & Flow, and Phone Booth. She’s appeared in over 40 films and TV shows. Her amazing screen talent landed her a nomination for best actress for a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Black Reel Award.
I had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with Paula about beauty and hair.
Mz Mahogany: How did you get your start?
Paula: I grew up in Cleveland Ohio. I did not attend a performing arts school. My mom said she’d put me in singing classes but wanted me to have an education to fall back on. So after high school, I went to Howard University and earned my Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. I learned the craft of acting but the degree allows me to teach as well and they encourage that.
Mz Mahogany: Why did you choose Howard?
Paula: I was attracted to Howard University because of all the prominent people graduating from that school like Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad. Matter of fact, my graduating class includes Taraji P Henson, Anthony Anderson, and Wendy Davis. Internships helped me get my career started and the rest is history.
Mz Mahogany: Let’s talk hair. Today you’re rocking a cute beanie sweater hat with curls peeking out. What’s going on underneath?
Paula: Well right now I have Crème of Nature in my hair. I let it air dry so it’s full of texture. I usually wear a wash n’ go when I’m not working.
Mz Mahogany: Are you naturally curly?
Paula: I might as well be. My last perm was nearly a year ago. I was the spokesperson for Lustra Silk Products. It was only right that I stay true to the product I was representing so I permed my hair. I also don’t have any color in my hair.
Mz Mahogany: A few years ago you moved away from your signature blonde color, why the change?
Paula: Well, being mommy changes things. Plus you’re not supposed to bleach your hair when you’re pregnant. My blonde hair was very sexy and I miss it but darker hair is helping me get more cross over work. If they request me to have blond hair I would consider bleaching it again.
Mz Mahogany: In addition to wearing a wash n’ go, what else are you doing to your hair?
Paula: When I’m working I like to wear hair pieces and clips. I don’t do the sewn-in weaves anymore. When I was younger I’d get a fresh sewn-in weave and leave it in for 3 months. I’d get 4-6 inches of growth but now I like to come home and take the weave out. Plus, Lela Rochon said no man wants to run their fingers through a weave. I recently bought an Instyler flatiron for the times I want to wear my hair straight. They say it’s supposed to be good for your hair as opposed to the other flatirons on the market.
Mz Mahogany: In your upcoming move “Taco Shop” you wear your hair pulled back in a cute ponytail. Did you experience any breakage from pulling your hair back every day?
Paula: Yes it caused breakage to my crown but that’s because I wasn’t doing it myself. Sometimes on set, the stylist just pulls it back not taking into consideration that our hair is prone to breakage. I don’t have any problems when I do my own pony tails.
Mz Mahogany: Do you have a stylist or salon you frequent?
Paula: Girl No! I don’t like salons because you have to sit there for 3-4 hours. You know what I mean and I can’t stand sitting in a salon that long so I just do my hair myself.
I wash my hair and condition weekly with Crème of Nature. It’s very important to replenish the oils in your hair with a good moisturizing conditioner. African American hair shouldn’t be washed as often anyway. I take Nioxin pills religiously and I brush my hair in 100 strokes each night. I know that’s really old school!
Mz Mahogany: Yes that is very old school! I also take Nioxin supplements. What’s your experience with them?
Paula: I take Nioxin pills in combination with Centrum vitamins and it really works. My hair grows fast and my nails grow long and strong.
Mz Mahogany: What’s your current skincare regimen?
Paula: I use Noxzema, Proactive and products with benzoyl peroxide to help with my breakouts. My make-up artist Rea Ann Silva had to sit me down and really show me how to properly wash my face.
Mz Mahogany: What’s the routine?
Paula: First I use Noxzema to remove the make-up. Then I take a hot rag and wash my face with Dial Gold soap. Washing the rag in between washing your face is just as important as actually washing your face. You don’t want to put a dirty rag on top of a face you are trying to get clean. You have to make sure that rag is clean because there’s all kind of make-up, build-up, and residue in it. I’m not saying go crazy with the towel but you have to run it under hot water and lather in the soap and then flip it over and lather in the soap. Rinse it like you would a wet t-shirt. I then use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser followed by good toner and moisturizer.
Mz Mahogany: Do you think makeup is hurting our skin?
Paula: It’s not the make-up, it’s the dirty brushes! Are you washing your brushes properly and often? Are you washing your hands properly if you’re using your fingers? These are the things that hurt our skin. I go to CVS and get a big bag of sponges and use those to toss out when I’m done. I try to wash my brushes once a week. Water is also very important for your skin. I usually drink 3 big ole glasses a day. When I’m working I drink 8 bottled waters. I don’t mind the water bloating when the results are healthy skin.
Mz Mahogany: What are 5 items a woman should have in her purse? Let’s see what’s in yours.
Paula: [digs through purse] Ok. The first thing is Kleenex tissue. Every woman should carry tissue and these come in pretty designs. Another is the Clean & Clear oil absorbing sheets. My L’Oreal True Match make-up, I’m W7 Caramel beige! I have silk cornstarch that I use as powder for my face. And finally Nioxin supplements in combination with Centrum vitamins.
Mz Mahogany: Interesting Items! Tell me your ultimate beauty secret.
Paula: A healthy sex life in a monogamous relationship is paramount to your health. It relieves stress and no stress clears up your skin.
Mz Mahogany: It was great getting your beauty insights. I appreciate the interview. Are you working on anything?
Paula: Yes, I have a movie coming out this year called “Taco Shop” as you previously mentioned. Also, look out for me soon on the BET show “Let’s Stay Together”.