Celebrity hairstylist Johnny Wright knows a lot about heads of state. After all, he has been styling First Lady Michelle Obama’s hair since 2007 when his agent booked him to style the then senator’s wife for the covers of two different magazines.
Wright styled Obama’s hair in Denver for her speech at the Democratic National Convention. The next morning, his hair artistry was the talk of the town. From The View to Good Morning America and The Today Show, everyone mentioned the soon-to-be-first lady’s hair. After the election, she invited him to serve on her personal staff in Washington D.C. Wright accepted and the rest is “hair-story.”
As the SoftSheen-Carson artistic style director, Wright acts as a spokesperson who educates consumers about the brand. Wright, 32, took some time out of his busy schedule to share with BlackEnterprise.com his climb to success before Hollywood and the White House, advice for up-and-coming stylists on how to cultivate a relationship with clients, and tips for professional women on how to maintain healthy hair.
BlackEnterprise.com: What led you to become a hairstylist?
Johnny Wright: I started doing hair, believe it or not, when I was 12-years-old. My grandmother and my uncles did hair. I took a liking to it because I was so used to being around it. I had a huge clientele when I was 13-years-old. I worked in my first salon illegally at 14. It was just for the summer. I begged my mom and dad to let me do it and they said yes. After the summer was over I got tired of paying $125 for booth rent and so my father built me a salon in the basement. I’ve pretty much been taking care of myself since then.
How did you start doing hair for celebrities?
I went to Dudley Beauty College in Chicago and that’s when everything started to change for me. I had the technique down and I was basically going to get licensed, but the theory and health of hair became a passion of mine. The director of the school took notice of that and she sent me to volunteer for a Miller Genuine Draft Girls photo shoot. It was the first set that I worked on. I’m so glad I ended up doing it. I never really thought of anything further than just working in a salon and working behind a chair.
That experience opened my mind to realize there is so much more in this industry, there’s working with celebrities, and [styling for] editorials. I worked with LisaRaye [McCoy], and we became friends and from there she started introducing me to her other celebrity friends. I started meeting more and more [celebrities] and it grew from there. I’ve been in the industry doing celebrities for about 10 years now and I’ve been doing hair for 21 years now.