Nappily Ever After, the new Netflix original film from Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour and writers Adam Brooks and Cee Marcellus, stars Sanaa Lathan as Violet, a successful woman who has built up a seemingly perfect life for herself on both professional and personal fronts. Much of her self-image is derived from her hair always being straight and perfect.
When she suffers a setback at work and her long-term boyfriend shows he’s not ready to commit, she has an identity crisis since she’s focused for so long on an image, not herself. So, in fit, she shaves off her hair and ditches much of what made up her old life. After doing so she finds that being herself has its advantages.
That the movie is based on a best-selling novel is explained at the top of the poster, with copy at the bottom encouraging the audience to “Let yourself grow.” In the center, Lathan is shown post-hair makeover with her face framed by flowers as well as combs, picks and an electric razor to help convey what’s going on.
Violet’s life is, as we see in the opening of the trailer, extremely well-oiled and running efficiently. She’s loved at work and has a great boyfriend. But that requires a lot of work, especially when it comes to her hair, which she’s always been self-conscious about and spends hours straightening to achieve an unrealistic ideal. When her boss sidelines her and what she thought was going to be a proposal turns into a breakup, Violet decides it’s time for a big change. So her wild hair comes off, which leads to complete reevaluation of who she is and what she wants, much to the chagrin of her mother and some others.
It’s a mild complaint, but I kind of wish the trailer had focused more on the post-shave life Violet builds up and how her change impacts her relationships with everyone around her. Instead we get a lot of what comes before. That does set up some room for the movie to surprise the audience, but it might also misrepresent exactly where the focus of the story is.
Online and Social
Nothing here, as usual.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nope, though it’s not unusual for Netflix to do at least some online advertising I might have missed.
Media and Publicity
Haifaa al-Mansour was one of the five Netflix-wrangled female directors interviewed in a story that had her talking about the movie and how she’s managed her career so far.
Lathan is on a Fox TV show, so some of the press she’s done for that has been intermingled with a few interviews and appearances for this movie. But she has talked about the movie and its story on “Live With Kelly and Ryan” and “Last Call” as well as in interviews with BUILD and The Root, often also addressing how the film fills a gap in representing the issues faced by women of color regarding beauty and looks. Similar ground was covered in an interview with Essence.
Lathan’s point that there’s a lack of movies addressing the issues faced by women of color is probably the strongest hook the campaign could have been hung on. That’s hit in a few ways, but none as strongly as when she herself was making that clear, and it’s an area where Netflix, with its egalitarian distribution model, is in a strong position to help address. So I wish there had been a little more press activity that focused on both Lathan and al-Mansour, who has a compelling personal narrative of her own.
Still, it’s a solid campaign for what looks to be an interesting movie that’s little different from any of the hundreds of “middle-aged white guy has midlife crisis” stories we’ve seen over the years, just from a different point of view.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
Star Sanaa Lathan talks more here about the relationship between her character Violet and her hair, including how emotional she was when she cut it off for real during filming.
Lathan talked with Regina Hall about the movie as well as broader topics like “self love” and taking care of yourself as a way of taking care of other people as well as how hair has been a central aspect of what constitutes beauty in culture.