Hairstylist Kenneth Walker Speaks His Mind on Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls

My IT&LY Hairfashion experience was truly epic and amazing on many levels. Not only did I get to go to Vegas and enjoy the VIP experience, not only did I get my hair done by an award winning stylist…but I got to meet and interview and bond with some of the most incredibly accomplished hairstylists in the world.

Who is this wonderful man that I’m hugging? His name is Kenneth Walker – please click this link for his IMDB credentials.

Kenneth cut his teeth in the hairstyling business on the set of 227, when he was handpicked by Marla Gibbs. Since then he has found a place in Hollywood and works with some of our finest talents – he’s worked with Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Will Smith – he’s been hairstylist on films like The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Fallen, Antoine Fisher, Hostage, Ali, Hitch, Akeelah and the Bee, and his latest film, For Colored Girls, gave him the opportunity to work with Tyler Perry.

I’ve read so many negative things online about this film – and the criticism is based on the cast, the posters, the trailer and the fact that Tyler Perry directed this film. Some of the criticism has been amusing, some of it pointed, some of it predictable. I’ve mostly kept my opinions to myself, for two reasons.

#1 – I’m not a big fan of Tyler Perry’s style of comedy. I know many people who are, and many who absolutely can’t stand his stuff. I’m not at all mad at anyone who is a fan of his, but in general his films aren’t my cup of tea.

Also #2 – I can’t claim a longstanding deep historical connection with For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf – I grew up in Trinidad, so to be honest I am far more likely to have read a classic work of British or Caribbean literature, than many of the books you grew up reading and studying here. The way that I’m most familiar with Ntozake Shange’s work is through performances I’ve seen online of her poetry. So please also take that into consideration (and try not to judge me too harshly, please).

Having made that preface, I’m gonna go on the record right now as saying I plan to see For Colored Girls. And I gotta agree with Gina McCauley’s article for BV On Money there: “The most essential talent required to be a filmmaker is getting the film made. And Tyler Perry has that talent.” I admire his entrepreneural skill. I can’t knock the hustle.

I already was planning to support For Colored Girls at the box office, for the strength of this cast alone. And THEN – I interviewed Kenneth Walker, who is just a compelling conversationalist. Please watch this interview, where he elaborates about his opinions and experiences as someone who was actually there on the set, working with Tyler Perry, and touching the heads of every woman in the cast.

I got so caught up in the rapture I said YES to this lovely man, when he asked if I’d seen the play. I haven’t. But I will see the movie. And I hope it does well at the box office.

My memory card became suddenly full in the middle of interviewing Kenneth, so this is just part one of the interview, expect more clips soon! – but our conversation went on. And he continued to say about this film he was so proud to work on, “I pray that people will be open enough to embrace it and see that this is what is happening right now.”

What are your thoughts? Will you see For Colored Girls? Or not?

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Comments

  1. I will definitely see For Colored Girls. When I was in college, I went to a performance and it made such a huge impact on me. It done well, it will be powerful on screen.

  2. I have every plan to see For Colored Girls. I think it should be excellent. Tyler Perry did not write the script, so I don’t know if I would just consider this another Tyler Perry movie.
    I pray I will not be proved wrong.

    • From what I’ve been hearing the film is an adaptation of the play/poems, so maybe T. Perry did adjust the script some.

      @Afrobella I’m not too big a fan of his work, I like that he gives black actors/film workers a job and gives black voices a way to speak in an industry that is seemingly becoming less diverse. That being said I also am a huge fan of Ntozake Shange, during highschool I performed cuttings of For Colored Girls during Speech. I was irritated that he picked it up but I hope he does it justice and I have to say I will be in the theaters when it comes out.

      • How are you “irritated” that GOD BLESSED HIM TO “pick up the play”? Boy, I tell you, you got LIFE messed up. Thats just like me saying” Im irritated that one of your family members got a brand new car.

        How the HELL is that irritating to me. GOD IS THE ONE DOING THE BLESS.

        NOW….. can you dig it? If not HOW WELL, LIVE WITH IT!

        • God aint in everything Tyler is doing girl BYE!Everybody that makes a good business move or investment aint blessed.I’m irritated that he stole the movie from the person,a black WOMAN,who was gonna produce it first.Even Oprah gave him the side eye for picking this movie.With your logic everybody that has ever been successful at anything God is blessing them.*Rolls eyes*

  3. Thank you for doing this interview, Afrobella. It’s great to hear from someone that worked closely with the cast. Mr. Walkers sounds so sincere in his praise of the movie. I recently saw a production of the choreopoem and I plan on reading it. Because of this interview, I’ll probably go and see it.

  4. I will definitely go see For Colored Girls and I am not a big Tyler Perry fan. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen the Madea films and both Why Did I Get Married’s!. Regardless of who directed this film, it is a great opportunity to present a film with a strong African American cast and strong female characters. I am looking forward to it and I will encourage others to make a showing at the box office, particularly over opening weekend. If we don’t show Hollywood that we are willing to pay to see our films, Hollywood will not support us. Avoid buying the bootleg and pay the $12 to show support!

  5. On some levels Tyler Perry is ok – I haven’t watched all his films but the two that I watched (Madea ones) were quite funny. As to this upcoming one it is the cast alone that will and is attracting me to see it. I don’t know anything about the author or her work and left to the title alone I would be turned off. I hope to have seen by ity the time you do your review so that I can comment.

  6. cosmicsistren says:

    I plan on seeing the film as well. I can understand that someone may not like Tyler Perry films. That is their opinion and their right. What I don’t understand is the vilification of man who has accomplished what very few (black or white) was able to to in the film industry. The man built himself up to become a powerful player in the film industry. He owns all his films and TV shows. He consistently hires women that look like me (full figured) in his shows and films. Although I don’t care for alot of his films I would NEVER disparage the man. I will never understand why blacks who have a voice in media consistently tear each other down. It seems they only celebrate blacks artists when whites love them.

  7. missmajestic says:

    I will see it. My high school did it and I saw the play again last year. I do think a woman should have done the film instead of TP. I don’t like the Madea character. But I enjoy his movies for what they are…I also enjoyed the Town this weekend…and Love Jones…I also love Spike Lee. His movies are predictable, I don’t expect them to make me think too hard but they are still enjoyable to me.

  8. Thank you Bella. I will go and see this for sure. And I how it is to get caught up in the moment of something and say “yes” without qualification. I respect your honesty on this issue because it is a human trait. These things happen for whatever reason.

  9. Amilcar Centeno says:

    Hello, it was a pleasure work with you and prove that our Color line Aquar&ly is safe in any kind of hair texture.For the spirals i apply Purity Design Glaze to make them soft and shiny. We had a great time at Vegas. Best wishes!!!!

  10. Nappy Mind says:

    Kenneth Walker mentioned that he works with Wanda Sykes. Her hair stays on point.

  11. Janet is in this film, so it is worth seeing. Period!

  12. I’ll be missing it.I won’t be seeing it at the theatre on bootleg or any other way.Everything he has done has been insulting and has made me question the sanity of other black women for supporting him.I think black women are just accepting anything.It’s like we never get everything or most of what we want or need with the movies so we settle time and time again.Screw Tyler I can’t stand him.

  13. warrior11209 says:

    I plan on going to see the movie- primarily to see how it compares to the original. I am so-so on Tyler Perry, I really want to like all his productions , but I honestly can not take the Browns or the Payne Family; his movies are ok. Glad that he has the power to get movies made, even though some of these movies may not be to my taste.

  14. Lol at how quickly you said you saw the play and you really didnt. Maybe you should read the book so next time you will be able to be honest to some level. A few excerpts on youtube do not count.

  15. Thanks for writing this!

    I am not a fan of Tyler Perry’s work, however, I respect his business acumen. He is one of those people that is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Nonetheless, I do my best to support us, and so I’ve seen a majority of his work. Of course, I’ll go see For Colored Girls. He will get my overpriced ticket sale. I will also do my duty and be critical. Any artist that puts their work out there should know that not only is it for sale, it’s up for criticism. And you know we love to tell people how we feel.

    Tyler Perry’s work deserves it’s place as does Rick Ross’ and others (See my article here: http://www.awordorthree.com/2010/08/rick-ross-identity-crisis.html). It should just make room for other artists that can help to provide a more comprehensive picture of the African-American experience.

    My two cents. Thanks again for the post and inside scoop! And your hair looks great!

    • I liked your comment, especially your statement: “Perry’s work deserves its place as does Rick Ross’ and others….can help to provide a more comprehensive picture of the [AA] experience.”

      Going to check out your article! :-)

  16. Great post Bella. I’ll definitely go to see this powerful film. I’ve seen For Colored twice here n Atlanta; both times directed by Jasmine Guy, starring Nicole Ari Parker, Robin Givens (who gave a surprisingly stunning performance) and some other awesome local actors. WHat a lot of people fail to realize is that this chore-poem was It was published as a novel in 1977, and made into a TV movie in 1982 starring Shange, Beverly, Laurie Carlos, Alfre Woodard and Lynn Whitfield. Thanks to Tyler Perry, now so many more women can see the stories that have EVERY Black woman can identify with. These powerful stories are about love, loss, domestic violence, self love and I haven’t met a woman yet who hasn’t dealt with at least one of those things. Please people stop hating and encourage Tyler Perry and others like him if no other reason so our youth will have hope and know that they too can own their own studio, direct and write their own films. We are so quick to put people down and evoke criticism when we don’t even see the bigger picture. There are hardly any positive images of Black people on the big screen. Big ups to Tyler Perry and anyone else who is working change the way we view ourselves. It’s an uphill battle but someone’s got to do it. *typos due to the fact that I can’t seem to move the cursor between lines in this comment box or even copy and paste. Weird Bella. I’m in Mozilla, can this be checked on by web developer*

  17. Since Perry’s portrayals of women generally make me cringe, I had no plan to see this movie. I still probably won’t in the theater, because man, these movies are not cheap. I will likely rent it when it becomes available though because I did read the poems/play and have seen portions acted out and am curious.

    Is Perry successful? absolutely, but that doesn’t mean I need to support the man. But then, I refused to see Avatar? (Live action Fern Gully? No thanks.) So I guess you should know who you’re speaking to.

  18. paintgurl40 says:

    i think i’m gonna read the book first.

  19. paintgurl40 says:

    i’d like some opinions please. since we all agree that the movies portray blacks (especially women) in a poor manner. what kind of movies would you like to see? please be specific.

    for example: i want to see movies where a sistah is kicking a$$ and taking names, and not playing a victim.

  20. Hey Afrobella!

    Like you, I’m not a big fan, but I, too, plan to see this, especially after seeing the trailer. Quite honestly, I got really excited after seeing the trailer.

    As for Perry’s work, I definitely can appreciate his business acumen in the film industry. I love that he fills his projects with brown faces. And, to his credit, his work has shown some improvements over the years. I still don’t find it good, but it’s definitely gotten better!

    Also, Ntozake Shange apparently gave her blessing as long as the project didn’t include Madea. At least, that’s what I gather from summaries of the interview she gave to TheRoot. (The video isn’t playing for me.)

    So I’m going. And I’m optimistically hoping for the best. :-)

  21. Greetings,

    This is my first time to your blog and I feel a kindred spirit here. From the West Indian roots to the hair.

    That being said, I live in Atlanta now and have had the pleasure of being on set on a couple of Perry’s films. Let me say that I respect the man’s seriousness and hustle. And I will go and see this film just because it is WITHOUT Madea or Mr. Brown. The rest of my innermost thoughts will remain “innermost”. As there aren’t many of us in Hollywood able to complete or even start things. The representation is seriously low and networks will just rant on and on about NUMBERS and how there is no support coming from the masses. I hope this changes. But for now, my $9.50 at the box office is a gesture.

    Vote for Victory:
    http://www.paradisehunter.com/vote/victorywaters.html

  22. Please, I’m hoping you would be able to connect me with Kenneth Walker. I am Kenneth’s niece and I haven’t been able to find him. I’m Geraline from Oklahoma. I’m his sister’s daughter in Tulsa. I have very very important family information to relay to him. I’m found on facebook as Geraline Bemore. My e-mail address is sweetgamb37@sbcglobal.net. It’s very important if you can contact him and let him know that it’s very very important family information I need to give him. He would be very interested in knowing this information.
    Hoping you can help. Please let me know if you can or cannot help us.

  23. Loquacious says:

    Question: Why does Jawn Murray feel the need to call black woman who aren’t excited about Tyler redition of “For Colored Girl,” “Militant Nappy-Headed Angry Black Women?” -Jawn Murray’s Twitter Account

    Tyler Perry is not a great writer. And, I am nervous that he will not do this chreopoem justice because of his lack of quality writing. That is my opinion and I nor anyone else should be called ugly names because of it.

    It amazes me how men can be disrespectful to black women and no one (but black women who is receiving the ugliness) says anything in our defense. Simply sad.

  24. Spactacullar, that’s what this movie is. He put this together and really out did himself. Like Tony the Tiger says GREAT!!! TYLER PERRY HE’S THE MAN.

  25. I saw Colored Girls and thought it was very powerful. A lot of black women have experienced one or more of the scenarios Tyler Perry portrayed in the movie. I feel that he trys to encourage and inspire black women, you may not agree with how he does it, but I appreciate him trying. His message is that YOU have to love and respect yourself, YOU have to believe in YOU. No other black person or anyone else for that matter is showcasing the plight of black women or celebrating our diversity, our strength or beauty. I like Tyler Perry, I may not like all of his work, but I know how to separate the two. At least he’s trying. We have enough other people pulling us down, why do we have to be crabs as well?

  26. shauna holley says:

    I LOVE MR. KEN! HE WAS MY HAIRDRESSER FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL TIL I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL. HE MADE ME FEEL LIKE I MATTERED. HE MADE SPECIAL TIME FOR ME. EVEN THOUGH I KNEW HE WAS A CELEBRITY HAIRSTYLIST (ASHFORD AND SIMPSON, 227 CAST, ETC…)I STILL FELT RELEVANT. I LOVE HIM AND WOULD LOVE TO DO AN INTERNSHIP WITH HIM AS A DREAM JOB. IF YOU CAN CONNECT ME WITH HIM I WILL DO THE REST. THANKS

    MR. KEN’S SENSOUS WOMAN FOR EVER

  27. just wanted to compliment you on your site–i enjoy it very much

  28. Jessie Martin-Frazier says:

    Looking good Big Brother;) Great movie. Two thumbs up.

  29. Hello…My name is Oscar James and I am a hairstylist…How can I reach Hairstylist Kenneth Walker?….We met years ago and i’d love to say hello…please feel free pass along this message…I can be reached on Facebook….Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. [...] and crew got along really well, and were EXTREMELY proud of the work they put in. Kenneth Walker discussed his feelings about the film with me beforehand, in case you missed that [...]

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