Watch My Documentary – “Play With It” on YouTube!
November 2, 2017
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Some of you know I’ve been working on a documentary with “natural hair” as the subject matter. Well I can finally say it’s complete!! It’s been a long road. Almost six years, however it was due to circumstances, priorities, and life.

Let me break this down:

  • Around 2009/10 I lived in Atlanta, and I started to delve into the idea of the project. I did a couple interviews (low quality) just to get a feel for filming and to see if I even wanted to do this.
  • In 2011/12 I really started to take it seriously. I started a Kickstarter campaign and purchased a couple Canon T3is and mics and and reached out to women in the natural hair community who I thought had a story to tell.
  • June 2012, I was going to meet a potential interviewee at a local Starbucks I frequented. I left my bag of gear in the back seat on the floor. When I came out, my window was smashed and I knew what was stolen. The police were of no help and instead I was met with questions like “Why did you leave $7,000 worth of stuff in your car in the first place?” Yes, it was a mistake, but it wasn’t something that I ever worried about since the area was open, it was day time, and plenty of people were constantly walking by. This was a huge setback for me. Three cameras (two Canon’s and one Nikon), seven lenses total, and a few other items were taken from me.
  • I had to update all of my backers from Kickstarter about what happened.
  • October 2012, I got a job (imagine right?) and it helped me get some new equipment to start filming again.
  • However, work started to pick up for me and the following March, I left corporate to pursue freelance work full-time.
  • Priorities changed since I had to make sure clients were happy and projects were finished. This pushed back my timeline with the project although I would still shoot and do interviews. Most time was spent scheduling interviews especially with women who were not based in Atlanta. I would travel to other states some times to get what I needed.
  • Over the next couple years, I would embark on some business ventures with clients in France which required me to travel.
  • November 2017, the documentary is complete.

Here it is:


“Play With It” – a documentary and book project by Vaughn Dabney that focuses on “natural hair”, what it means, and why it should be celebrated. By interviewing familiar faces in the natural hair community, the viewer is brought into the journey–from doing the big chop to showing growth and glowing with confidence, these women set the record on what it means to be a woman embracing their natural hair texture.

The last relevant film to delve into the natural hair world was “Good Hair” by Chris Rock which articulated the problems with black women’s hairstyling without offering a clear alternative. Play With It fills that space by showing how black women are forging new, restorative and healthier pathways with the natural hair movement. It inspires, it uplifts, and celebrates women of color embracing their hair.

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Vaughn Dabney

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