LOS ANGELES -- Camille Friend never thought she would see herself in the spotlight as an Oscar-nominated department head hairstylist as a young girl because she never saw anyone that looked like her in that space and the thought of having that opportunity never occurred to her.
Friend, a third-generation hairstylist, always knew she wanted to be a hairstylist, but little did she know that this passion for hair would lead her to becoming a storyteller by telling stories through the art of hairstyling in films.
"I knew I wanted to become a storyteller when I did like my first major movie, which was Ray," Friend said. "And I knew from there working with like the great director Taylor Hackford, I knew that's what I wanted to do because I could take so many things that I learned from my childhood, and just from being a Black woman, and I could translate it in film."
Now the first-time Oscar nominee is celebrating how "Black Panther" has made an indelible impact in her life.
"'Black Panther' came into my life, the first one, and took all over my life," she said. "And then now the second one, 'Wakanda Forever,' came and took all over my life. But I think the greatest part of it is that we have the opportunity to see different cultures, not only as the Black culture. And I'll say, as a journalist on the first one, she quoted that 'Black Panther' was 'a love letter to Black hair.'"
Friend said revisiting the world established in the first film gave her more of an opportunity to represent other cultures. "We have the great opportunity to work with the Mayan culture, with the Latin culture and put like a whole new culture that you've never really seen on film," she said. "And we get to put our spin on it and our interpretation, and we get to allow the whole world to see the images and how beautiful the culture is."
For Friend, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever helps to shine a light on the cultural significance of hair to the Black community.
"Hair is everything. Hair is an expression of who we are as people, as individuals, as men, as women as children," she told On The Red Carpet. "Black hair is such a beautiful tool, because you can shape it, you can mold it, you can do anything with black hair, black hair allows you and it's allowed me to use my imagination to the greatest extent."
Just like the first film, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" reflects the diversity of Black hair styles and textures, which Black women were not always given the freedom to express, particularly in the workplace.
"As far as in the workplace, it's something that for a long time, you know, braids were misunderstood, locks were misunderstood, but thank God, we have the Crown Act, which now to protect our liberties, where you have choices when you go to your workplace," Friend said.
She also explains the importance of how the Crown Act extends protections and rights to non-Black citizens.
"People who are Muslim, people who are Native American, we should all be protected in order to wear our hair exactly the way that we want it. Even if it's spiritual, if it's cultural, if it's religious, it doesn't matter. We all should have that right and the freedom to do so."
Friend acknowledges this special moment in her life and takes nothing for granted.
"I just feel grateful for this moment. And all the moments that happen in my career, the good, bad and indifferent. I just feel happy for all of them. And it's got me to this place."