In Hulu’s new satirical comedy Not Okay, Zoey Deutch stars as Danni Sanders, a 20-something fledgling writer obsessed with amplifying her social media clout. She’s willing to do so by any means necessary, going so far as to fake an Emily in Paris–style sojourn to the City of Light and subsequently pretend to survive a terrorist attack.
To truly embody her Gen Z, quasi-influencer character, Deutch made it her mission to look the part. To signal her trend-motivated influencer agenda, nothing was more important than her of-the-moment set of chunky, face-framing blonde streaks. “That was Zoey! She came with big ideas,” says Not Okay’s hair department head, Cynthia Vanis, of how Sanders’s #MoneyPieces, as they’re known on TikTok, came to be. After pulling inspiration from real-life users on the platform, Deutch tapped celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham to punctuate her brunette mane with tactfully bleached streaks. “Her character is a little lost and trying to find herself,” says Vanis. “It makes sense that she would do something bold [and trendy] with her hair to be noticed.”
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Needless to say, nothing packs more of a social media punch these days than the aughts E-girl aesthetic, which Sanders tries on for size throughout the film. “I lived through these eras, so it felt effortless and so fun to bring back things I grew up loving,” says Vanis, who crafted an array of different hair looks for Deutch in this spirit, including a zigzag parting, a ’90s-supermodel-esque high ponytail, and, naturally, a pair of space buns.
@roscoestilinski24 Theres just something about the blond hair with the orange top… need the movie NOW #dylanobrien ♬ original sound – roscoestilinski24
And it wasn’t just Deutch getting in on the transformative dye-job action, but her character’s love interest Colin, played by Dylan O’Brien, as well. To slip into his unabashed E-boy character, O’Brien went so far as to bleach his hair platinum for the first time ever (“We took his color virginity,” jokes Vanis), documenting it on TikTok to viral effect. “People lost their minds!” says Vanis of the process, which required a double process because O’Brien’s hair is so naturally dark. “Hair plays such a huge role in a character, especially for Danni,” says Vanis. “We watch her go up and down in this film, and her hair helps illustrate where she’s at mentally. It tells a story.”
While at its core Not Okay is commenting on the dark underbelly of social media and influencer culture, there’s no denying its visual storytelling is amusing. In fact, it’s a playful look at today’s most algorithmic-hacking beauty trends. And given pop culture’s insatiable appetite for ’90s and Y2K style, don’t be surprised if Not Okay only adds fuel to the fire.
Not Okay is now streaming on Hulu and Disney+.