“Nappily Ever After”: Sanaa Lathan’s Search for Her Perfect Natural Self

In Nappily Ever After, a Netflix original movie, Violet Jones (Sanaa Lathan) finds her best self when she decides to let go of her perfect self. For Violet, an upwardly ambitious professional black woman, this means no more obsessing about having perfect hair and accepting her nappy do. She even goes through the classic stages of grief, chapter subtitles charting the progression (straightened, weaved, blonde, etc.) from false dos to accepting her natural blackness.

There is an extraordinary shaving scene where Lathan goes through every emotion possible, each tress hitting the floor a lash, a tear, a step towards revealing her true naked self.

Lathan is a superb actress caught in great roles in mediocre movies. Nappily Ever After, which Lathan produced, gives her one of her better opportunity, but surrounds her with mediocre characters and a self empowerment polemic plot line that belabor the point.

The movie is based on the first book of a series of novels by Trish R. Thomas. The screenwriters Adam Brooks and Cee Marcellus, add heroine complexity at the expense of minor character development.

Nappily Ever After comes off soft because the obstacles are easy. That can happen when there is too smart and complex for the world she lives in.

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