Johnny Wright: Michelle Obama's Hair Stylist
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Johnny Wright knows about heads of state.

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 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. 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.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.