Inside Look | Sage’s Internship Project

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It’s been almost a year since Sage Thomas joined the Jpixx team as a filmmaking/editing intern. During her time here, she was tasked with putting together an internship project to tell a story that was meaningful to her and communicated her personality. From there, “Protective Styles” was born. This short documentary explores black female relationships with their natural hair, combining a powerful mix of moving interviews and strong supporting visuals. Check out the trailer below and be on the lookout for the full premiere coming soon!

What inspired you to create a documentary about natural hair relationships?

Originally, I was thinking of a story I could incorporate myself into somehow. I had a professor at Regent University who always encouraged me to pursue topics that I could answer the question, “why should I tell this story? And why now?” Hair has always been something that I knew carried cultural significance, but I only began exploring the various expressions of it in recent years as I saw natural and various expressions of hair celebrated more in society as a whole. My hair was very confusing to me for a long time. As a biracial female (half black, half white), with a hair texture unlike anyone else in my family, for years I viewed it as an unmanageable inconvenience, and was often encouraged to straighten it. Every black woman has a natural hair journey which often includes an experience with protective styles, including braids, twists, locs, etc. Practically, these styles guard against hair damage and encourage growth, but their social implications go much deeper. I wanted to dive into the double edge sword of what it means for these hairstyles to be “protective.” 

Can you tell us about your concepting process? How did your documentary come to life?

I started with a proof of concept interview with a friend of mine in DC before I graduated who I worked at a summer camp. We talked about the challenges of navigating hairstyles where time and resources were limited, and most of the people we were around were not familiar with the nuances of it all. From there, I created a pitch deck and put it on the shelf…until I got to Jpixx. The summer after graduation I became a Jpixx intern, and I wanted to revive this idea for my internship project which was very well received by Jon and the team. From there, I interviewed black women of all ages and experiences to get a variety of perspectives on the subject, including my grandmother, Jon’s neighbor and home-stylist here in Virginia Beach, a filmmaker in Charlotte, and an organic beauty supply company owner in Philadelphia.  

Where did you draw inspiration from?

Some of my biggest inspiration came from The Hair Tales docu-series with Tracee Ellis Ross, the short film Hair Daze by Tyla Barnes (who I interviewed), the marketing of the natural hair product company My Black Is Beautiful, and The New Yorker short documentary Black Power in Hair. 

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