'Ginny & Georgia' Star Antonia Gentry on Her Curl Journey and Becoming Aveda's New Face

The star helps introduce the brand's new Be Curly Advanced collection.

<p>Courtesy of Aveda</p>

Courtesy of Aveda

It was nearly three years ago that I first met Antonia Gentry.

I was at a party during fashion week when, fresh off of bingeing her show Ginny & Georgia (at a dizzying speed, might I add), she came up to me to compliment my curls. I was, of course, impossibly flattered, and we had a quick exchange wherein I returned the sentiment, obsessing over her curls, which were woven into a set of pigtail braids and affixed under a beret. It was abundantly clear: Gentry wasn’t just a girl’s girl but a curly girl’s girl.

Earlier this month, I found myself back chatting curls with Gentry, and for a fitting moment at that: The 25-year-old actress in the face of Aveda’s new Be Curly Advanced collection, designed for coils (4A-4C), curls, (3A-3C) and waves (2A-2C). In her new role, she’ll be starring in brand campaigns and kicking off a #BeCurly social initiative encouraging individuals with textured hair to share their unique stories.

After all, to have textured hair is to know that truly embracing and accepting it can be a journey—and Gentry is honest and open about hers.

“I feel like a lot of curly girls go through their phases, especially when they’re young, of not really knowing how to embrace and take care of their hair,” Gentry tells InStyle. “My mom took care of my hair for a very long time when I was young. Then I was like, ‘No, I want to straighten it. I want to fry it. I want to dye it. I want to do everything possible to destroy my hair,’ and my mom had to let me go through that. It's like a canon event. You can’t intervene.”

(Editors’ note: Truer words…)



After fighting her natural texture through most of her teenage years, Gentry decided to chop off her longer hair and cut it into a no-frills pixie. She says it was a reset—and the first step to liberation.

“It was important for me because I could get to know myself and feel free apart from what my hair looked like; I wasn't concerned about whether or not I would look or feel accepted or pretty or fit a standard because my hair was gone. I didn’t even have to worry about it. It was just really cute. I miss it, but then by the time my hair restarted and was able to grow again, I realized I felt more like myself when I had my hair natural.”

From there, Gentry went through the motions of learning how to take care of and style her natural curls, test-driving hundreds of products and techniques to find what would work best for her. Knowing what a personal and emotional process this can be, she decided years ago she wasn’t just going to join forces with any brand regarding her hair.

“It’s taken me a while to do a hair partnership because there are so many products out there that claim to do certain things for any hair type, but especially with curly hair, [the needs are] very specific,” she explains. “Unfortunately, a lot of people don't actually know how to properly take care of textured hair. I can’t just immediately trust any company and just say yes to it without feeling like I'm not being authentic or honest.”

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Given the time and space to get to know Aveda’s textured hair philosophies and the Be Curly Advanced collection, Gentry knew she could sign on with integrity—and true enthusiasm for the products. “I was blown away,” says Gentry of test-driving the plant-powered range, which is formulated silicone-free with each product clinically tested across their measures of curl performance: frizz protection, hydration, strength, shine, and definition. There are seven products in total—a shampoo, co-wash, conditioner, mask, curl primer, styling cream, and gel—designed to cover cleansing, conditioning, priming, and styling textured hair. While she loves the entire collection, Gentry counts the Shampoo (“It doesn’t strip my hair!”); Intensive Curl Perfecting Masque, a potent hydrating and detangling in-shower treatment; and Curl Enhancer Cream for “soft, fluffy, but nourished” spirals as her absolute favorites.

Always looking to level up her routine, Gentry also relished spending quality time with Aveda’s global artistic director, Renée Gadar, to learn all the different ways to streamline and maximize it. “Wash days can be a lot, and the mission of the line was to create ease with products that have multiple uses,” explains Gadar. “For instance, the conditioner is a leave-in, so you're not rinsing out all your conditioner and reaching for a new bottle as another step. And then the masque is in-shower and you get maximum benefits in just two to five minutes. You dial the steps down; you dial the amount of product usage down. So everything is just made to be easier.”

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

In this major moment for her career, Gentry can’t help but appreciate what her collaboration with Aveda represents as part of a long-overdue shift in representation. “Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of representation of natural curly and textured hair in media; oftentimes, especially women of color, would have their hair straightened and just fit into the box that was the standard,” she says. “When I didn't see that acceptance in the mainstream, it felt hard to accept myself.”

As the star of Ginny & Georgia, and as her career reaches new heights, Gentry relishes the sea change and how she can continue to be a part of it on her own curly journey.

“Once the show came out, I started getting messages from fans young and old, talking about how seeing my character and her hair journey in the show helped them accept who they were and how their hair looked,” she explains. “I could really see the impact of me inhabiting a character just as my physical self and how that really helped put a positive message out there for people like me. I realized how important it is to be transparent and to be authentic with that kind of thing. I feel really, really lucky and privileged to be able to do something like this.”

The Aveda Be Curly Advanced collection is available at aveda.com.

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