Why Gilded Age Star Denée Benton Says Shaving Off Her Relaxed Hair Made Her Feel ‘Unstoppable’

Why Gilded Age Star Denée Benton Says Shaving Off Her Relaxed Hair Made Her Feel ‘Unstoppable’

Rocking a crimson lacquered lip for PEOPLE’s 2022 Stunning Problem, actress Denée Benton says she’s reconsidering her method to make-up.

“I’m by no means courageous sufficient to stroll round with this lip,” the Gilded Age star, 30, admits. “And now that I’ve it, I do not assume I am ever going to take it off. It is such an influence enhance.”

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Benton additionally acquired a lift in confidence when she chopped her hair off earlier than her sophomore 12 months of school at Carnegie Mellon College.

“I had a relaxer my entire life. After which the summer time earlier than my sophomore 12 months I used to be listening to numerous India.Arie and ‘I Am Not My Hair’ and I shaved it off,” the Hamilton alum recollects. “Particularly as Black ladies, our hair holds a lot. It may be such a supply of disgrace. So to launch that for the primary time, it actually made me really feel like I used to be unstoppable. I felt horny.”

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Denee Benton photographed at Jack Studios on April 13, 2022.

India.Arie continues to function magnificence inspiration for Benton, particularly the music “Video” with its lyrics: “Typically I shave my legs and generally I do not/ Typically I comb my hair and generally I will not / Rely upon how the wind blows I’d even paint my toes.”

“It actually simply relies upon no matter feels good to my soul. That is my approach of magnificence,” Benton says. “Probably the most constant is a recent lower, recent eyebrows and a maxi gown with again out, no bra, some Birkenstocks and gold hoops. I may actually put on that uniform daily.”

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The actress finds that engaged on interval items like Gilded Age and Broadway’s Hamilton and Pierre & The Nice Comet of 1812 really makes her wish to go a little bit bolder along with her appears to be like.

“I’ve performed so many 1800s corsets and the make-up is so pure that I really assume that doing interval dramas has made me have extra enjoyable in my day-to-day,” she says. “I acquired purple lengthy ideas after we completed taking pictures [Gilded Age] as a result of I simply needed to interrupt out of the held mould. It is pushed me to benefit from the instances the place I get to be extra daring.”

These initiatives have additionally precipitated Benton to mirror on earlier societal norms. “In interval dramas, there are such a lot of restrictions on ladies and the way in which we had been allowed to be and look, and I feel as Black ladies, we internalize so lots of these guidelines about what colours we will and might’t put on and the way it’s essential to look skilled and all of this stuff,” she continues. “So it has been a very stunning invitation to interrupt these respectability politics and simply really shine.”

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Benton shouts out Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B as function fashions for “letting us be in our vibrant areas” and credit social media with permitting Black ladies to attach with each other.

“Black ladies have been pushing these requirements from the daybreak of time, however now with social media, we’re capable of hear one another’s tales and be like, ‘I felt that approach too!'” Benton says. “I really feel prefer it expedites the method of realizing that that messaging has nothing to do with us.”

The Tony nominee admits she hasn’t at all times had that sort of confidence and would inform her teenage self “she appears to be like precisely as she must look,” and “that you’ll develop out of Eurocentric magnificence requirements stifling you and notice that being Black and delightful is the very best factor ever.”

For extra with Denée Benton, decide up PEOPLE’s Stunning Problem, on newsstands now, or subscribe right here.

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