Starting his career in Atlanta as an extensions specialist, Davy Newkirk has worked his way from Miami to California where he currently resides in Los Angeles. With a strong celebrity clientele including Kourtney Kardashian, Scarlett Johanssen, Lea Michele, and Jessica Alba, you may recognize his work from the Zico Water, Maybelline, or Neutrogena campaigns. With work in Vogue, Elle, Allure, and V Mag (to name a few), Davy has established himself as not only a strong editorial stylist, but equally as a go-to for the most in-demand celebs and photographers. So how does one make his way from Atlanta to one of the most sought after stylists in Hollywood? Scroll below to hear what Davy had to say…
How did you get your start in the industry?
When I arrived in Los Angeles I was pretty naïve as to how things worked in the entertainment industry. I did small jobs, test shoots, and anything I could to learn and build my book, eventually sweet talking my way into an agency. There, I began to work on modest shoots while also assisting more established artists, which allowed me to experience firsthand the demands of the industry and taught me how to handle myself in those settings, which is a huge part of the job.
I got my first big break after working with my friend Monika Blunder, a make-up artist, on one of her shoots, where she saw my talent for hair and recommended me to her new client Rebecca Romijn. This was during the time when Rebecca was still modeling and had just began hosting MTV’s House of Style. I was so nervous when Rebecca’s team hired me for an upcoming Tonight Show appearance, but I did a great job and they ended up liking me. The next week, a stretch limo picked me up from my crappy apartment and I was flown to Hawaii for a House of Style taping.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
At the time I was becoming established in Los Angeles, I realized it was hard to book jobs with the big New York and International magazines and photographers. For some reason LA hairstylists were perceived as weak compared to the stylists from the more fashion based cities. But somehow I managed to sneak my way into a few prestigious bookings and from there the word spread. After that, anytime a cool European magazine was being shot on the West Coast, I was their go-to LA guy.
Who are some role models who have inspired you?
When I first moved to LA, my agent hooked me up with an assisting position to Jimmy Paul, a hair genius. I worked with him on some amazing photo shoots and traveled with him for shows in NYC, Paris and Milan. He has the greatest energy on set and is super talented with his styling. I’ve always idolized him and his career.
Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
I love organic looking hair with a modern edge. I always reference Kate Moss and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. You would never see them with fussy hair. From black tie to day wear, they always look on point.
What was your last major makeover that you’ve done?
I have been fortunate to work with a lot of A-list men in my career. A more memorable makeover I did was for Robert Downey Jr. on his last Ironman film. Although I’ve designed his hair for several movies, on the last sequel I went for a more editorial, high fashion look. Basically more like what I would typically do for press and photos. The studio loved it and asked if I could fly out to shoot the poster. I’ve done countless amazing covers and editorials in all of the biggest magazines – but that image of RDJ was seen by basically everyone in the world, which is pretty exciting.
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
I recently switched to using organic hairspray. I absolutely love the Alterna Bamboo line anti-humidity hair spray.
What is your favorite Instagram account to follow?
I follow a ton of hair people, makeup and stylists. I’m also really into design, so I follow a lot of interior designers, and of course celebs. A few of my faves are @mathias_vriens_mcgrath, @KishaniPerera, @georgiykot and @JoyceBonelli.
What advice would you give new stylists?
I really recommend traveling and working at Fashion Week in London, Paris, and Milan. It’s so exciting and you learn a lot about hair dressing.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Someone on an editorial shoot once said- “This is fashion, not brain surgery- let’s just have fun and create a beautiful picture!”
Be sure to follow @davynewkirk for more #manespiration.