The Jurassic Park trilogy contains three of my absolute favorite movies. Vanessa Lee Chester starred in the second installment “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. Vanessa has landed roles in many TV shows such as Malcolm in the Middle, Without a Trace, and Veronica Mars. She was nominated for a Saturn Award (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Image Award (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Young Artist Award (A Little Princess) and took home the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress (Harriet The Spy).
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Mz Mahogany: How did you get your start as an actress?
Vanessa: My mom saw an ad in New York’s showbiz newspaper by an agency named Terrific Talent looking for kids for their open audition. I was only three years old at the time, and my mom was convinced that I had the personality to make it in the “biz”. She took me to the audition and the agent told her they had just signed a group of three year olds, so they weren’t looking, but they would let me read regardless. Apparently I went in with the agent, and she came with a contract for my mom to sign. We signed it on the spot.
Mz Mahogany: Jurassic Park is a film many have on their top ten list. What was it like being apart of a big film watched by so many?
Vanessa: In one word? Incredible.
Mz Mahogany: I could imagine!
Vanessa: It was an experience that I will always cherish. Imagine being twelve years old and working with a huge lime green screen daily and running from animatronics that brought to life creatures you only read about in history books. It was so sweet! It was also such an honor to work with individuals like Steven Spielberg, Stan Winston, Vince Vaughn, Jeff Goldblum, and Julianne Moore. I learned a lot on that set, I believe the lessons I learned on the Lost World still help me in my career today.
Mz Mahogany: Let’s talk about your hair. Are you natural?
Vanessa: Au Naturale!
Mz Mahogany: How long have you been natural?
Vanessa: Fall of 2012 will be ten years. I decided right before freshman year at USC to get rid of the relaxer.
Mz Mahogany: Did you go through a transition period or wear any transition styles before deciding to do your big chop?
Vanessa: I traded off between wearing extensions so my hair would be free to grow without being tampered with, and pressing the new growth to blend in with the relaxed parts that were still present when I was extension free.
Mz Mahogany: What was your go-to transition style?
Vanessa: Getting extensions where your hair is braided and protected was the best for me. It gave my hair a chance to transition without causing too much trauma. My hair is very wavy and thick and much stronger than the chemically straightened hair I was growing out, so I think the protection minimized damage. It can be a long process so you have to have patience….lots of patience.
Vanessa: That is exactly why I grew it out, because I was enamored by women rocking these amazing natural styles and I wanted to emulate that. The majority of the photos of me are with my hair straight, but I tend to wear my hair in its natural state during my downtime.
Mz Mahogany: Do you remember when you received your first perm?
Vanessa: Let’s see I had the jheri curl (yes I know hysterical) when I was around seven so I think relaxer was around nine years old. I do not remember the first time I got a relaxer, but I remember dreading the process then loving the result
Mz Mahogany: Would you consider going back to chemically straightening your hair?
Vanessa: It would take a lot of convincing to get me to relax my hair again. I just do not see any benefits for my hair at this point.
Mz Mahogany: I agree. Your hair looks very healthy. What is your current hair care regimen?
Vanessa: When I was teenager I was obsessed with obtaining the longest hair ever. I did everything, tried everything, tested every old wive’s tale and as I got older my conclusion is less is best. As soon as I worked with my hair and learned what brought the best out in it, my hair really started to shine…no pun intended. To keep my hair healthy from the inside I stay hydrated, eat regular meals, take a multivitamin and work out. Blood flow is a huge factor in fostering hair growth so getting my heart pumping is a great way to beautify. On the outside I am a huge fan of natural products. I try to keep styling with heat to a minimum (I have burned out a couple of chunks in my life) and stay away from heavy use of gels and hairsprays.
Mz Mahogany: And at night?
Vanessa: I put oil on the ends of my hair at night, and wrap it.
Mz Mahogany: Do you do anything different when you are on the road working?
Vanessa: On the road I keep my ritual pretty consistent; usually I check the climate in the area and adjust my routine accordingly. If I am on a project for a long time, I prefer to get extensions if possible. When you are on camera your hair usually has to be perfect, which means a lot of tugging, spraying, and heat. I know actresses who have had terrible damage done to their hair on set, so I figure save my hair and let the fake stuff take the constant styling.
Mz Mahogany: What products do you favorite?
Vanessa: I do not have a specific brand that I am married to. I like trying new stuff, but I love natural products and oils. One product I love is the Turbie Twist it soaks up sooo much water and cuts drying time down dramatically.
Vanessa: Coconut oil.
Mz Mahogany: Really, I’m in love with coconut oil!
Vanessa: OH MY GOODNESS. Miracle fruit equals miracle oil. I have very dry hair, so dullness and moisture can be an issue. Before I wash my hair I take extra virgin coconut oil, heat it up and massage it into my hair and scalp, sit for as long as I please, then wash it out in the shower. It’s therapeutic and my hair is gorgeous, hydrated, and shiny when I’m done.
Mz Mahogany: When we will we see on you the big screen again? Are you currently working on anything?
Vanessa: I am about to begin work on a film directed by Ty Hodges, and I’m very excited to work with him. I have known Ty for years, and he is force to be reckoned with. I have also started writing. It is something that I have always wanted to try, but I’m finally doing it. It has been a challenge, but I am really enjoying it.
Mz Mahogany: I heard you sponsor a charity. Tell me about it.
Vanessa: I recently signed up to be a volunteer for the UNICEF Tap Project. It’s a fabulous project that serves to bring awareness to the World Water Crisis during World Water Week – March 19-25, 2012 and every day. 900 million individuals are living without access to clean water in this day and age – half are children, it’s terrible. $1 can provide a child with access to clean water for 40 days. It’s a huge problem with a simple answer and we have the power and ability to change it. You can check out more about the UNICEF Tap Project and donate at www.tapproject.org.
Mz Mahogany: You are awesome. Thanks for giving my readers your hair care tips!