The Cut Life Podcast
The Cut Life Podcast

Episode · 4 years ago

Ep. 6 - Johnny Wright

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On this episode we talk to Johnny Wright, stylist to First Lady Michelle Obama during all 8 years of the Obama White House administration. We discuss how landed the gig as HOTUS (Hair Stylist of The United States), and why he decided to stop working with the First Lady after 8 years. Johnny also talks about his new client Angela Rye (who he was styling for a photo shoot while we were interviewing him) and his long time friend and client Tamron Hall.

Welcome back to the cut life radio. It's your host to hear a joy or producer. Big Med is in the building and I'm excited because we have the same last name, so I'm going to pretend that we're cousins. In my head. The amazing hostus Johnny Right. I love the Hashtag Hair stylist of the United States, for those who don't know. Ha Ha. How are you? I am good. I'm good. Hey guys, hey, cut life family, thanks for having me. I'm really have to be here. Oh, it's an honor and a pleasure to have you. I told my parents I was interviewing you and they had dirty questions. They're like, oh, he did Michelle Obama's hair. When needs to know everything? There's only so many things I'm legally able to tell you, guys. Well, I understand. We don't want any government problems. Okay, we got to keep it really cute. But besides the work that you've done with the first lady, Michelle Obama, for eight years. Just looking at your instagram, it's a WHO's who of powerful women, Angela R who you're actually working with right now as I speak. I'm really I'm here at a home, a photo sup with hers. Look the fee looking amazing. Talk about the multitasking that, guys. And then we love Tamron Hall, the short cut this as you call do on her. Oh my goodness, that's twenty years a friendship and we have always, I felt like we've always did in magic. Oh. I love that. And we've posted images of her on the cut life and every time they go absolutely crazy for her. Appreciate you guys so much for doing that. I love this. Before you get my followship up, I love it. So we love it. I mean continue you can. You have my cell number now so you can just text images. We love the exclusives, you know, will post them all day long. I...

...would do it. I would do it. I'll miss for it absolutely. And then I see Carrie Washington on here. Just not I mean the list just goes on and on and on. But I just love the fact that the common denominator is that they're all very powerful women. Yeah, and so tell me about that working relationship. And I'm sure you inspired them, because anytime a hair stylist changes your whole look, it just makes you boost to a whole other level. So what do they do to inspire you as your clients. All my clients inspire me every day, honestly, the common says I have with them, the different things that I've experienced when they grow in their life, and I'm able to, you know, have to have a bird eyt view of that because all they've been insurations in my life and I'm these women that have been in my life, these powerbul women that have been in my life for very long time now. I've been doing this for twenty eight years. Wow, we women have shaked me into the man that I am today and I I'm very honored and I I wanted to be as loyal as possible and I really think what it is then, you know, reason why I'm able to, you know, connect with these women is trust, and I hope that they trust me whole heartily and they truch me around the family and in their homes and and there's been well as of the desist. You don't trust me, but it's and I think really that's what it boiled out to is. You know, I don't have an EGO, I'm not egotistical. I love what I do, I'm passing about it and I love being a part of the illustration of these powerful women story and that's where I become a storytellers. I love it. Was Too. Yeah, just been able to express my art and express my my language to their image. Well, your positive energy definitely shines through, because you were lit as soon as we got you on the phone and we love that. And then the fact...

...that you're saying twenty eight years. I can't even believe it because you look about twenty five. But I do remember that you said You did your grandmother. You styled your grandmother's Ponytail at age three. So you have been doing here your entire life. Obviously I was. I was planning my grandmother's tail when I was at two or three years old. So ice. You said I used to pull her hand to a clean pone and sale them, but I actually started my career without twelve years old. Wow, I am. My mom was my first client by the time I was thirteen. My father built a salon in the basement of our stop side of Chicago home. I had a huge client tell I had about two assistants by time out fifteen, and then by time I seventeen, as too, sis to assistance and a secretary. Now this sounds like I'm talking like crazy talk, but it's really the truth and all these women that I'm talking about it was the truth. It was Lan Yate Ford and just on him feel these are people that are still in my life, that I'm still connected to, and I was their first job, so to speak, back when we were young, little toddlers in my mind. And Yeah, so I've always had the savvy because my grandmother with the has out of minny Brown. She started doing it was she was thirteen. She was taught on the Madame tday Walker. She had on the several salons and little rock argisas and then when they moved to Chicago she owns a couple of salons there. She also worked in the John Hancock building were opens show was being filmed at the time, and amazing falne down there, and I go to the work with her all the time as a kid and have fun in the hydraulic chairs which at the time I saw went all the way up to the ceiling because I was sold little, but I used to love going to the the line with her and it has been amazing light and has been amazing career and I feel betwenly blessed the honor they have done the things that I've done. I love it and I read that you honor your grandmother by wearing the bracelets. While I think that ye awesome, outsoud of being, you know, a Fascinis for myself. But yes, my grandmother used to wear bangles on both our arm so when she did here you...

...heard this all the time. You know, and a lot of clients that it was very comforting to hear that sound. And we'm I going to the pass and homage to my Gmmad. I got seven braces on my home with my favorite number seven, and I warm all the time, even when I have a wet that is beautiful. I'm sure that's what keeps you so close to her and with your work, and I'm sure she is guiding you with every client. Yeah, that is awesome and one thing I read about you, because I had to do all of my research here. Yeah, I was so excited. I was like, his last name is right, so I can't mess this up. You know, we're family now, but I see that education is truly important to you and that, as long as you've been in the business, you continue to educate yourself and for a stylist, listening or people that have entrepreneurs of all sorts that are listening, talk to us about the importance of continuing to educate yourself. There's this simple knowledge is power. I mean when the more knowledge you have, no matter where you go on your career, well, probably you are, the more thought after you are. And in this industry is forever. Change is all about. Do now next, because all about you know, what's the hottest fan with the newest color part that we's the newest ciminal. The treatment was the newest cut, and you only way you can really really execute those things pretty well as then talk, and that's where I always come in. I tell young siders and other side of that, you know, look up to me and look up the other artists that I work with, like you know that, friends with like Psaver, me as and or James, all that stuff. You know, you I cannot have ego, because he needs to have that. You're not going to lie right. I'll all the remain a green apple and take try to take up all the Nurseman I can so I won't fall off the tree. I love it. I love it, and so talk to us a little bit about just how you balance all of these clients and you. You're based in La correct. I am based in La now with...

I'm very excited about but just give me the opportunity to work on this end of the ride, because I probably wouldn't while was DC. So I moved back here in July last year. I decided to, you know, leave Michelle Obama to, you know, put through what I was doing prior to work with her. You know, loved her, love work with her, and there's nothing there other than the fact I was just ready to do some more creative, fun things. And so my assistant that had worked with me for the past ten years, also flu moved to DC with me from Los Angeles. She is now her primary hairs out of an image and a time too, and I love and adore her. So she's awesome. That speaks volumes to your character, because you are also paying it forward and providing opportunities, because there can be a lot of haters out here and that don't want to see other people grow and that want to, you know, monopolize certain industries or areas. But the fact that you're saying that your assistant is now Michelle Obama's primary stylist, that speaks volumes to who you are as a person. I appreciate that. But yeah, for me is I don't focus on anything to have anything do hate for all I know is and I connected as all the love. So the lovers that out there that appreciate people passing the torch, you know they can respect that idea. And outside of that, I don't even have home board. Is like, of course I'm a passing on any somebody passing torch to me and I want to passroom whether I can. I mean, I'm not going to stay doing what I'm going right now forever because I'm forever training and that's what life is all about. Absolutely. And you mentioned when you moved back to La said you were getting back to what you were doing before. Explain a little bit more about that, like what was the I'm sure there was a huge lifestyle change, obviously leaving court the White House, but what were some of the things that you felt you were able to do now that you weren't able to do while you were working that term? Well, just me a like I ha a killer award season.

I pretty much work for every a wars their money this year and I haven't done that in about eight years and had a amazing time doing that and work with all the difference of every reason, different looks that they want to wear carpet. I really, really enjoy I'm doing where carpet looks. I love doing editorial look and you know, for me, that's what I want to get back to. I moved out here to La in two thousand and seven and Saund a punch Chicago to have a more television present and do more celebrity and work and film and Television, and that's basically what I'm doing now. I'm getting back to that, doing it put a little more leverage, which is nice. Um and I'm hoping to build my account academy out here as well too, because that's something I'm really crashing about. And that's pretty much it. That's the reason why I I had I wanted to come back to the me. It's a lot of you can imagine what the schedule and the pressures that work with the first lady of the United States. Absolutely work very hard over the past eight years and I was ready to come come back to having more control of my schedule, and that's pretty much what this is all about. Just having to go my father been able to do itize my yes am, I know, at the right time and it's has been a very blissful time to me. I am my most bliss of stuff here in Los Angeles. I do love California. This is really happy to use act. I Love Chicago. It's home, you know. I had a great time and D see while I was there, but being here in La is this to me. I love you saying the power of your yes and no, because I feel like I've been tried with this this week in particular, where I had actually two opportunities that came my way that I didn't feel we're authentic to my brand and organic for what we were doing. So I had to politely decline those opportunities. But then maybe two other opportunities came from other sources in its place, and it just it was a reminder to stay true, you know, to who you are and to what it is that you...

...want to do. So I love that you just said that. Yeah, yeah, it's very, very, very very important to unadvantage. You have power in both words. Yes, absolutely, and I see all about decision and choice. Yes, definitely, and I see on your bio red carpet correspondence. So we should be able to see more in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes. Came on board the Grio family. Oh, congratulations. Yeah, on by Byron Allen over in fame, the studios, and I am now to do style corresponded or the Grio. I did some look back for the grammys and all Tho the optors. So you US see more, I mean in front of the camera, to as the year goes on and when they all comes out, the lifestyle stuff. I love it. That's exciting. I've been saying forever that as a people we need our own fashion police or version of that, where we can talk about the styling, the hair and makeup and all of that. From our perspective. I think that we're included, but we also have a big voice and we know that. We're always into fashion, like my girl Claire that owns fashion bomb daily, and you know, we there's definitely an audience there. So I could see that for you get on that panel. We need our own fashion police, you know. Yeah, yeah, I I did it. So like that for bed and the national that was I'm it was showing all over like Africa, and up in London is called Math Wag oh nice for different people in the industry and we would sit down and disarm people fast on the red carpet and on the street. So it was really cool mat side with a lot of fun. Okay, come on, International Matt Swing met. I love it. So anything else, like what's is there anything coming up that you can talk about or you just delving into your creativity? I know you're probably tired because award season just ended, but you're still working. Yeah, yeah, no, I'm I feel a little free a now. Not so pens up. I'll be doing my traveling get back to more. I go to Boston, NEW YORK, Chicago every month. I have clients all over. That why I'm called hold it's. But outside of that,...

I'm really focusing on working on this academy at set with the lady who's going to stript it off for me yesterday and we gave her the whole concept. So really excited about that. Definitely going to do a product line. That's the pass to the academy and I'm really excited about it. Go Too. So it's a whole lot of things that I feel that this career has. The offer that I want to make who I think a dantage of and then do it in the best, most beautiful way possible. So those are the things that I think that I have a great stance and opportunity to connect to easier here being in louth angel saving in more creative environment, which I really am enjoying absolutely, and we would love to promote and support the academy and the products to come along with this. So definitely consider the cut life a major resource. Already do into double back because I met is in here. You know he filters me questions from time to time, so just will just double back really quickly. And he wanted to know how you actually landed the Gig at the White House in the first place. For my agent by the name of Kim Barboza. We've been my agent for over fifteen years now. Back in two thousand and seven, let make maybe two weeks after the announced on Oprah that they were running for presidency, I got a call from my agent and who was looking for ethno photo shoot with this center of life, but I am in sell Obama and at that's who is where I met her. I did a hare for the shoot. I think we did it all pretty good and then I went on from about my life and then bade me. About two weeks later I got called to do her again for old magazine, and these were not covers. These are just caught, you know, they'll just doing a little, you know, article her inside the magazine. And but by that time I had decided to move to Los Angeles. So I came to do her for the old magazine shoot. You know, it did her, she loved it and basically like, you know, good luck. I moved to Los Angeles, not being optimistic about them actually being in the White House, because it's just something that we had never seen before. Great, outside of that, then, you know, I about a month...

...after that, I moved about Angeles. Are Working at Furch of Pokai and the you know, the campaigns are getting more and more intense as the year went on and they will call me whenever they was on the West Coast to style her and keep her camera ready for different things that she was doing, whether it would be conferences or fund raisers or Ellen degeneress, Jay Leno, you know, television appearances, and we started to grow more of a relationship. When things really change in me is the first democratic national condition that D is the ANDC was held at Denver and Denver and I remember them asking if I can be in Denver the whole week. So I took the time. Office. Okay, because there's the already on the West Coast. went to the West, went to Denver to do her, and that's when I think I really solidify my pussician out there, Siut of because you know, everybody remembers a peach and and everybody remember the how she looked in everything that day and I al was really beautiful. I was different the whole week. I think people saw a different stroke of the brush. I'll there that way, you know. Yes, yeah, and then they noticed it and which is totally fine. And then maybe about a month sold later, they say won left you happened? And then about a week or so after that her chief of staff called that it can I come to her do like January thirteen in DC for the cover of Vogue, and I just thought I was going to do it for bowl, like she's throwing me a bone, because I work with up without the kind of thing. But when I arrived to DC and did it a Bolge, she first thing she asked me before I even started out, was I willing to move to DC to be our heirsid wow, I think, yes, immediately, and in a month later I moved. I moved up down some day that yet. That is amazing. So you are a part of history. How does that feel? Amazing. I am to have had that experience and I can't wait to tell somebody's grandkids about it, because I won't have any. Yes, absolutely well, thank you so...

...much. That is why they have Hashtag hotess on Instagram, so that people can know. I just truly love your spirit and personality and how it shines through, and I know we haven't met in person, but I'm sure we will and I just want a big hug from my cousin Johnny Right. Will get one a hug out of yes, absolutely, and will continue to follow what you're doing. Is Support. Much love to everything that you have going on and sell Angela Hey, I know she's waiting on you to get that look together for this shoot that she has. Will look out for those images to we can't wait to see it. Awesome. All right. Well, thank you guys so much. I really appreciate this. No problem. Thank you all right, bye and bye.

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