If you’ve been tuning into Canadian original drama Motive for the past three years, you may notice in Tuesday night’s Season 4 return that there’s something a little different about the leading lady, Det. Angie Flynn. Nope, it’s not that she’s been reinstated to her former job or that she’s gotten her own desk back after a shaky third season. It’s that when she returns, she’s missing an awful lot of her hair.
As it turns out, that wasn’t a character choice, but one made by the gal who plays her, Kristin Lehman. And it wasn’t made recently — the actress’s hair has been like that since the show’s third season, but she sported a wig. The reason? Good old-fashioned necessity.
“My hair was fried,” Lehman says. “The hot tools and blow dries and colour and all that stuff takes its toll, and my hair was just damaged. So we cut it off, because ultimately I would rather have had that happen than something like that YouTube video where the girl’s telling people how to curl her hair and it comes off in the iron.”
The short ‘do is actually a return to how Lehman used to wear it all the way back in high school. In fact, it used to be even shorter than it is now. But when she decided to enter the acting realm, she started to grow it out according to what the industry needed from her.
“It was kind of like a refreshing return to me,” she says. “Often I was playing characters that had long blonde hair, blue eyes kind of thing. So for 20 years it served me to have my hair longer, and then when I cut it I was like, ‘Well, great! I grew my hair for the industry, let’s see what happens now.'”
Well, great! I grew my hair for the industry, let’s see what happens now.
With Motive coming to an end following these final 13 farewell episodes, she’ll certainly have the chance to see what happens next. But she points to the likes of Leslie Hope on 24, Dianne Wiest on pretty much all of her projects and fellow Motive co-star Lauren Holly’s turn on NCIS as examples of women with shorter hair who, over the years, have landed roles on series without that “conventional” look.
“Often the industry follows archetypes that are easy to understand and easy to recognize so there’s probably not a huge amount of room women to have short hair,” she says. “In the past maybe that has been more limiting. But it’s kind of a personal choice and I’d like to say maybe, maybe there’s women who can be just who they are and have it be accepted.”
In the past, the likes of Keri Russell on Felicity or more recently Kaley Cuoco on The Big Bang Theory have come under fire in the media for chopping off their long locks in favour of shorter ‘dos. Lehman maintains that her own bosses on the show were supportive of her decision and knew about it in advance, and they had the wig at the ready if the look didn’t pan out for the character.
She also had the opportunity to work with Russell after the actress famously cut her hair, and says there’s one key difference.
“I don’t think she liked her hair,” Lehman says. “J.J. Abrams and all the other producers knew she was going to cut her hair. It might have been the higher ups in the studio where maybe someone was surprised, but no one really makes a big change like that without letting people know. So they did it and she didn’t like it. And wished that she didn’t do it.”
At the end of the day, actors sign on for a role based on their appearance and portrayal of the character in question, and they enter into a contract stipulating what they can and cannot do with their bodies, Lehman reveals.
For women sometimes in this industry it’s hard to feel like a person…
“For women sometimes in this industry it’s hard to feel like a person for that reason: you’re signing a contract to corporations that make things. I’m not saying this with any ill will, but that means that at some point someone can say ‘I don’t like the way your hair looks. I know we agreed to have you cut it but I don’t like it.’ At any point my producers could have said the same thing. So we had a wig ready.”
Thankfully, that didn’t end up happening. And Lehman was able to rock the hair she wanted, while still killing it in the killer role.