When I moved to the New Jersey suburbs as a little girl, I had to face a new and strange reality: people cared about how my hair looked. This only became more true for me as a teenager, when a bad haircut was one of the worst traumas one could suffer (and many of us did - it was the 80s). As I grew older, I found that for my friends who were black and Asian-American, there were major cultural and political issues behind how they wanted their hair to look, while my friends who were gay and lesbian used hair length and style to tell people something completely different. The question fascinated me: why was hair so important?
'do began in 1998 when, three years out of grad school, I was writing and working on other people's films and was dying to make something new of my own. I had no money but I had an idea, a camera, and a good friend (who became my co-producer) egging me on. We began by putting together groups of people who had something in common about their hair - redheads, blonds and brunettes, people of African descent, people of Asian descent, balding men - and filmed their discussions. From these groups, we chose our subjects, who, like us, had no idea how big a project they were embarking upon.
Six years and several changes in technology later, we have created something that speaks to many people - and about much more than their hair. Because hair is both universal and entirely individual, I think 'do invites us to laugh at the quirks and conceits that make us all human while considering what makes each of us unique. I hope that the film will also encourage discussion about what it means for individuals to create an identity in our culture, and the challenges we face in trying to build a diverse society in which each individual can do that without feeling trapped by expectations and stereotypes telling them how they should look and who they should be.