Thursday, 26 January 2012

Celebrity Canadian Curlie - Anne-Marie Woods

It is my great pleasure to feature Anne-Marie as my first Celebrity Canadian Curlie. I first met Anne-Marie when I was in high school and she became our Cultural Awareness Youth Group leader. Her career has expanded so much since then and she touches people in many different ways through her craft. She  also happens to be a teenager in curlie years  - enjoy her riveting story below:

Anne-Marie Woods, founder of Imani Enterprises, spoken word artist, singer, actress, mentor to name a few .

Toronto, Ontario / Nova Scotia

First year of curlieness:
I went natural in 1997

Why I went curlie:
I went to Philadelphia to do a residency at Freedom Theatre an African-American theatre and theatre school. In many ways my nine months at Freedom Theatre shaped much of my life today. I went there to take an August Wilson Advanced Acting Class, and I was teaching Senior Theatre and Assistant Director on a production. It was an amazing and life-changing experience in many ways.

Having the opportunity to learn and teach in an all Black environment. I was surrounded by beautiful sistas with afros, twists, cornrows, fades, locks, and almost every natural style you could imagine. Everyone was so beautiful. I can’t say that before living in Philly that I thought about going natural at all.

See I was the child of the jeri curl. I started with TCB in the 80’s and graduated to Carefree Curl and then I was a Wave Nouveau woman for life; I swear. I tried a relaxer once when I was about 14, but the lady burned my scalp terribly and so I became a slave to jeri curl juice. When I needed a break from the curl, I would get extensions in my hair.

Anne-Marie with afro kinky twists.

So now, here I was in Philly surrounded by the most amazing and beautiful natural women. I found myself asking people different questions about their hair; especially Ayanna who specialized in Nubian Knots and twists and a short afro or whatever style she decided to do that day. Her hair was short, but so versatile. I was in Philadelphia for nine months and by then end of my time there, I came back to Nova Scotia and went natural. It’s been 14 years since I made this liberating move and I have no regrets, but because I have a lot of hair and I do everything myself I do sometimes dream of a fade.

Regime and products:
My regime is an interesting one. When I first went natural I cut all my processed hair off. It was quite short. I pretty much do the same things now as I did then twist and twist-outs, twists and twist-outs. I like Ayanna the sister I admired don’t rock the same natural hair style daily. For instance for one of my shows I may pick my hair out into a bit curly twisty afro, then the next day wear my hair twisted and pulled back, or I leave it twisted for a few days and then open the twists; I love that look. I also blow dry and flat iron my hair sometimes and then twist it and put it in rollers, for that special look.  That is what I call my 18 hour hair style…it lasts for about 5 hour or so. That’s when I feel like Blackarella – like the Cinderella of hair. Like the time I rocked that style on one of my birthdays and then went out dancing, and half of my hair turned into an afro. Luckily I had a barrette with me – to pull my hair up into one. Cause the ½ curly and ½ afro style was not cutting it for me.
Anne-Marie rocking her 18 hour hair a.k.a. Blackarella.

When I first went natural I was asking so many people and doing research about products for natural hair. I used everything from Mane and Tail to Dark and Lovely which dried out my hair completely, to some type of shampoo that was supposed to be for natural hair. I am sure there are many more products now, but back in the late 90’s every shampoo that I bought for my hair cost quite a bit and made my hair as hard as sandpaper on a sunny day. I have a friend with locks and I remember telling her my plight and she was like “Girl I just use wheat germ and honey shampoo from Shoppers Drug Mart.”  That gave me an idea… I began to try regular shampoos. So, after much trial and error, I now use Dove shampoo for dry and damaged hair (this works really good on Black hair and does not make it brittle or hard), and I love the Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil hair products. I use the ORS Olive Oil conditioner which costs about $6.99.  If I want to deep condition my hair because I dye my hair auburn, I put conditioner in my hair the day before and leave it in before dying it. This has kept my hair soft and it’s never been damaged by the hair dye.  I just use Nice 'n Easy dye because many of the dyes for Black hair damaged my hair and made it very dry. Are we noticing a trend here?  As far as keeping my hair oiled and healthy, I used Natty Jojoba Oil and I have been using that since 1997 it costs $2.99 and you can get it at any Black Hair Product Store in the states. I put that in right after washing. I also use the ORS Olive Oil cream in my hair right after washing. Outside of that I use hair food now and then, and that’s about it.  Nothing I use in my hair costs a lot of money and the products last for a long time.  When I started this journey though I spent a lot of money on products just trying to figure out what works well with my hair.

The best part of being curlie for me is:

The best part of being natural for me is being versatile, and I love the look of my hair. It’s just liberating. It’s like I emancipated my hair! For me this is not a fad obviously, because it’s been 14 years now.  I like to rock different styles, and my hair is long enough now that I can just pull it back into one.  Or I twist it and open, twist and curl, wear a bit Foxy Cleopatra afro, or when I need a break in the summer I put in afro kinky extensions. I prefer the afro kinky twists, because they look just like my real hair.  So it’s simple when I feel like locking my hair, I put in the afro kinky twists. When I yearn for a fade or to cut off my hair, I pull it back into one. When I want it to be a bit more manageable then the ceramic blow dryer and flat iron are there for me. If I really want a straight style then I can do that too. The other thing is I do everything myself including my extensions, so unlike many of my friends I am not paying a fortune at the salon. Yes it takes time and planning sometimes to do this hair of mine, but I don’t mind.  I love my hair!
Anne-Marie at a recent spoken word performance in Nova Scotia.

What professional projects are you working on:

I just finished producing a show at Young Peoples Theatre (YPT) in Toronto called, Word Up it was a spoken word and theatre showcase called, Why I Write and it was phenomenal Word Up is a youth spoken word and theatre program that I developed for YPT.  Presently I am in Halifax, Nova Scotia in a hotel room getting ready to perform at the Word Iz Bond Poetry Series and then in a few days I will be the MC and guest performer for the Nova Scotia Mass Choir’s 20th Anniversary of The Dream Continues Tribute to Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King … then I am back in Toronto and I am the writer and poetic narrator for Tribute a show that is paying tribute to African Canadian Choreographers past and present. It’s being put on by Dance Immersion and it is for me it is one of the pinnacles of my career.  I also do work in schools and will be working on a Spoken Word Anti Bullying project at Queen Victoria Public School and then also working on a big Spoken Word Conference and Showcase for 2013. 

If you would like more information about Anne-Marie and Imani Enterprises feel free to visit her


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    1. Thanks so much for the comment Laurie - I'm blushing! I'm glad you found the post informative and enjoyable. Keep reading and take care.