EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Wright, Personal Hairstylist To FIRST LADY Michelle Obama, Talks Making BANGS...And History
Trends may come and go but hairstylist Johnny Wright is one hairstylist who is creating “looks” that will go down in the history books. And while we continue our BLACKS MAKING HISTORY campaign to showcase YBF people who are making black history every day, come inside and meet the man behind the bang(s) heard 'round the world….
Image is everything, especially when you're the most watched woman in the world on an everyday basis. So the person responsible for the visual aspect of that image--Johnny Wright--is, in turn, making history every single day.
It was the bang heard around the world--literally--as First Lady Michelle Obama stepped out on the arm of her husband, President Barack Obama, during the 2013 Inaugural swearing-in-ceremony after first debuting her new hair on her new Twitter account.
Though electing the nation’s first Black president to a second term was a truly historical moment, what really grabbed headlines around the world were the First Lady’s bangs, which she later described on "Rachel Ray" as her own version of a "midlife crisis." And those world famous bangs--as well as every emulated hairstyle FLOTUS has rocked since she stepped foot into the White House--were the master craft of Chicago-born hairstylist Johnny Wright.
During an exclusive chat with TheYBF.com, Johnny, who serves as the "First Hairstylist" to the First Lady and the artistic director of SoftSheen-Carson, spoke to us about the contribution he is making to the nation and how he’s carving his place in history. And when it came to those bangs, he said,
"It was a collaborative effort. The First Lady said she wanted to do something different. But we didn't think it would make that big of an impression! Some people loved it and some people hated it and that's what's great about it."
So one might ask, how does a hairstylist give back to the nation? Johnny told us,
“A first impression is everything...and a lot times, that has to do with your appearance. I always tell people that a woman's hair is the first thing you "hear" before she speaks. It tells you a lot about her personality…without her saying a word.”
And Johnny has been helping The First Lady make great first impressions all over the world since they first began working together during her first appearance in ESSENCE Magazine (when President Obama was a relatively unknown senator).
From that editorial shoot, he fostered a working relationship with Mrs. Obama and her staff that continued with her appearance on the cover of O Magazine, her much-celebrated VOGUE cover and appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
“It's very challenging to work with the first lady. She has an extremely busy schedule and we do travel very often. And with all of the work she does, I think its very important for her to look good. It is my contribution to America. I'm a part of making her fell good and making her feel comfortable. And all of that has impact how she does her job."
Before his journey to the White House, Johnny was introduced to the hair care industry by his grandmother who ran several hair salons in the Chicago area. And we all know the best way to learn ANYTHING...is from mom and grandma.
At the age of 12, his mother served as his first client after she agreed to let him give her a French roll. From there, he says he styled over a 100 clients that year. And back then, you could have your hair done by Mr. Johnny Wright for $15! He’s come a long way since then, mainly because of the business acumen his father taught him about the value of his time and understanding his self-worth.
Johnny also worked at the Frederick Fekkai Salon on Melrose Place in West Hollywood and has done the hair of former Turks and Caicos First Lady LisaRaye McCoy-Misick.
When asked about the challenges that come with his profession, such as creating editorials and inventing new looks, he told us, "Those things that would seem like challenges are lot of fun to me because they are creative and thought provoking. And those things make you grow as a person and a hairstylist."
But what Johnny says he values most are the friendships he's formed with his clients and what he's learned along the way through their relationships.
"What I love about doing hair is the connection I have with my clients. So many stories and so many personal things have been shared with me that have allowed me to grow into the man I am today."
And we're honored Mr. Wright shared his story with us with his effervescent personality. Loves it.
And for ladies hoping to achieve the Johnny Wright effect, he recommends products from the Softsheen-Carson line in the video below.
Follow Johnny on Twitter @johnny_wright.
In case you missed it, check out our Sam Fine exclusive as part of YBF's campaign--BLACKS MAKING HISTORY.
Photos via Johnny Wright