Upon her return, Leah rocks a significantly different hairdo than the younger version you met in the Season 10 episode “Find Me.” In an interview with Insider (via Yahoo! News), Collins revealed that this was very much her idea, and that her gray “Rendition” hair is actually her natural hair color.
“I started coloring my hair when I was like 25,” Collins said. “I was prematurely gray. I don’t really want to go into why I had all that stress. When COVID happened, I was so happy because I didn’t have to dye my hair every two weeks.”
Collins decided to extend this happiness, so she convinced showrunner Angela Kang that she’d wear a wig for Leah’s flashback scenes in Season 10, and return with her natural grey hair in Season 11. “When Angela and I were talking about the arc of this character, I was like, ‘I really don’t want to go back to brunette if we can help it,'” the actress revealed, and noted that it wasn’t exactly a hard sell, because Kang wholeheartedly agreed with her hair game plan. “She was like, ‘Yes, I love this idea.’ So we decided to go with it.”
Incidentally, hair woes were only part of Collins’ troubles regarding Leah’s return. She’s been aware of the character’s arc for quite some time, which means she’s had to really bite her tongue back when fans were seeing Leah as nothing but Daryl’s love interest. “I knew where the character was going and I wanted to be commenting, ‘Y’all have no idea. It’s not what you think. This doesn’t go where you think it goes,'” she told Insider. “So it’s just been a game of ‘How can I keep my mouth shut?'”