Most well known for his work with the former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, Johnny Wright made waves when she debuted an amazing array of hairstyles over the past eight years. Whether it was bangs, curls, slicked back, or classic and chic, Michelle Obama always looked as polished and poised as she sounded. Below, her hairstylist lets us in on the makings of his career and how he became the former first lady’s right hand man.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started doing hair at a very young age. My grandmother did hair until she was 91 and she passed when she was 93. She started doing hair when she was 13 and I started styling hair at the age of 12. My grandmother always told me that I always greased her scalp and pulled her hair into a clean ponytail at the age of 3. It was then that the seed was planted that would change my life forever.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
Creating a recognizable silhouette for one highly visible client like the First Lady didn’t allow me to express creatively as I did when I had a different client in my chair everyday. To overcome this, I began taking more classes and studying online.
Who are some role models who have inspired you?
My grandmother. She did hair until she was 91 and passed at the age of 93. I remember the bracelets she wore that would cling while she curled hair and to pay homage to her, I wear bracelets knowing her spirit is always within me.
The late Madam C.J. Walker. Her journey and path has influenced so many people not just in the hair industry but across all industries. And of course Andre Walker, Oscar James and my all time favorite Sharon Blaine.
Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
Michelle Obama’s bangs, Tamron Hall’s short hair cuts
What was your last major makeover that you’ve done?
For Essence.com I did a Facebook live post with their editor where I took her from long to short in studio.
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
Like most stylists, I have several favorite products. My most favorite is Jonathan Hair Products, in particular their root touch up awake. You can do wonders with it. As for tools, I love how innovative companies have become like the Dyson Supersonic blow dryer (which I am absolutely in LOVE with). ProBlo Curl Me, the T3 soft wave iron and Corioliss flat irons.
What is your favorite Instagram account to follow?
Sharon Blain!!! She is visionary and industry icon.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
The same advice I would give myself today, stay focused. Education is key.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
My client by the name of Pam Rakestraw said “my whole life would change when I started to see myself the way others see me.” She was absolutely right.
What advice would you give to new stylists?
Remain open-minded and embrace the power of Yes.
What is the next chapter for you?
Who Knows. The sky is the limit. I would love to continue to work with Mrs. Obama, but I look forward to having more flexibility to be active in educating the next generation of stylists and pursuing product development, in particular a luxury tool line created for us by us.
Be sure to follow @johnnywright220 for more #manespiration.
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