Nikki M. James Embraces Natural Hair After Becoming a Mother: ‘I Want Her to Be Her True Self’

Nikki M. James embraces natural curls, inspired by motherhood and her daughter’s self-acceptance.

Nikki M. James. (PHOTO: VIA GOLD DERBY, CINDY ORD/GETTY IMAGES)
Nikki M. James. (PHOTO: VIA GOLD DERBY, CINDY ORD/GETTY IMAGES)

Broadway star Nikki M. James, known for her powerful performances and magnetic stage presence, has recently shared how becoming a mother has significantly influenced her approach to both her personal and professional life.

The actress, who welcomed her first child with husband Derek Oosterman in 2022, has found new inspiration in motherhood, leading her to embrace her natural curls and reconsider the roles she takes on in her career.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, James, 43, opened up about the profound changes she has experienced since the birth of her daughter.

One notable shift is her decision to forgo daily blowouts, a staple in her beauty routine for many years, in favor of wearing her hair in its natural curly state.

“I started wearing my hair curly because I’m running out of time,” she explained, highlighting the practical challenges of juggling a demanding career and family life.

“It seems silly, but I had been blow-drying my hair my whole life. It was my style, and I love the way it looks since I could change it easily.”

Nikki M. James. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, DOMINIK BINDL/GETTY IMAGES)
Nikki M. James. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, DOMINIK BINDL/GETTY IMAGES)

Despite her love for the versatility of straight hair, James’s decision to embrace her curls was deeply influenced by her desire to set a positive example for her young daughter.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my daughter is going to have her hair, and I want her to feel like she can be her true self, and I should find out who I am,'” she said.

This personal journey toward self-acceptance and authenticity is one of the many ways motherhood has transformed her.

In addition to her evolving beauty routine, James has found that motherhood has brought a new clarity and focus to her professional life.

As she navigates the responsibilities of being a mother, she has become more discerning about the roles and opportunities she chooses to pursue. 

“[Motherhood has] also, I think, really changed and brought into very sharp focus the kind of things that are worth leaving [my daughter] for and the weight that it places on my husband and my family and my friends to help me do this, and so it’s got to be worth it,” James reflected.

Nikki M. James and her daughter. (PHOTO: NIKKI M. JAMES/INSTAGRAM)
Nikki M. James and her daughter. (PHOTO: NIKKI M. JAMES/INSTAGRAM)

One such meaningful project is her current role in the musical “Suffs,” for which she has been nominated for a 2024 Tony Award. The show, created by Shaina Taub, features a poignant song titled “Worth It,” which deeply resonated with James.

“When I heard it the first time, I was a hysterical mess,” she admitted. This emotional connection to the material underscores how motherhood has reshaped her perspective on her work. “I think my work, what I choose to do and how I choose to do it will change from here on out for sure.”

James’s portrayal of Black journalist and activist Ida B. Wells in “Suffs” has taken on new depth since she became a mother. Wells, a co-founder of the NAACP, was known for her fierce dedication to justice and equality, often while raising her own family under challenging circumstances.

James now feels a stronger bond with her character, drawing parallels between Wells’s determination to create a better world for her children and her own maternal instincts.

“She’s so fierce. And so unflinching. And so brave, in the face of challenges and oppositions and obstacles and threats that I can’t even imagine. And she was doing all of this while raising a family,” James explained.

Derek Osterman and Nikki M. James. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ASTRID STAWIARZ/GETTY IMAGES)
Derek Osterman and Nikki M. James. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ASTRID STAWIARZ/GETTY IMAGES)

“I’m a mom, and in the time since we last did the Suffs at the Public [Theater], and now I’ve become a mother and that’s a part of my connection to her that didn’t exist before.”

This newfound understanding of Wells’s motivations has enriched James’s performance and brought additional layers to her portrayal. “And it actually really brings into focus why she was willing to fight so hard. She wanted to make the world a better place for her children. And now I really know what that means.”

James’s journey through motherhood has also been marked by the unwavering support of her “Suffs” castmates, who have become like family to her. “I was pregnant with my daughter when we did the show at the Public, and my cast didn’t all know until I was out of my first trimester.

And I will tell you that group of incredible humans, the way they lifted me up and continue to lift me up and care for my daughter and love her so fiercely…” she shared. “That’s the other added bonus is that my young daughter has 25 aunties who would lay down their lives for her.”

As she looks forward to the 2024 Tony Awards on June 16, where “Suffs” is a contender, James is not only celebrating professional achievements but also embracing the personal growth that comes with motherhood.

Viewers can watch the awards show on CBS and Paramount+, with additional coverage on Pluto TV. Tickets for “Suffs” are now available, offering audiences the chance to witness James’s powerful performance and the story of Ida B. Wells.

Sharing Is Caring:

Leave a Comment