The news broadcasting industry is notorious for making mandates on the appearance of on-air journalists. For many Black female broadcast journalists, it’s been an uphill battle to be their authentic self at work. However, in recent years, there are instances where Black journalists have decided to wear natural hairstyles and receive support from management.
Meet Briana Collins, a 27-year-old TV news anchor at Fox Champaign in Illinois, who is celebrating wearing her hair in braids on-air.
“Prior to working at my current TV station, I did encounter resistance to wearing braids,” Collins told DiversityInc on Thursday. “At my previous station, I was told I could wear my natural hair on-air in a short straight style, but when I asked about braids I was told by management they ‘didn’t think so.'”
Collins posted photos on her professional Facebook page, on Tuesday, with the statement:
“I’ve wanted to wear my hair in braids on TV for years! Glad I could finally make it happen. And glad TV stations are allowing women to wear their hair how they want. #BroadcastinginBraids”
Before beginning her on-air career, the Chicago native earned her bachelor’s degree in communications at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Sarah Glover, president of NABJ, also shared Collins’ post.
The journalist explained how she first approached her current TV station about wearing braids.
“I saw A.J. Walker at CBS 12 News in West Palm Beach, Florida got braids earlier this year,” she said in an email.
“I noticed we both worked for Sinclair. I thought, if her management team approved her braids, there might be a chance I could get them, as well. I spoke with my news director, who spoke with our general manager and our group news director.
“I submitted pictures of myself with braids in the past and got their approval. It was very exciting for me because straight hair is the industry standard. It’s nice to be different and look different and to have managers who support that.”
By taking the initiative to approach management, Collins not only created an opportunity to be her authentic self but is paving the way for Black girls and young Black women to do the same.
“To me, sometimes, I think it’s just hair,” she said. “I forget there are women of color who are discriminated against every day because of the way they choose to style their hair.
“I forget that there are little girls who watch the news with their braids, twists, locs and natural curls and coils and seeing someone who looks like them, who styles their hair like them, is encouraging and validating.
“It’s a blessing to serve as a reminder that you can be successful, professional, intelligent, and well-spoken, regardless of how you decided to wear your hair.
Collins added, “It’s been strange to hear people call me ‘brave’ or say I inspired them to wear their hair the way they want in a corporate setting. It’s nice to see things are changing for women on TV, slowly but surely.”