Exclusive: Hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood On Creating Mane Magic With Issa Rae

ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honoree Issa Rae is many things: actress, writer, director, producer…and top notch hair chameleon. She’s a standout on the red carpet, not only because of her quirky style, but an innate ability to slay in any and every hairstyle. 

As it turns out, Issa met her stylist, Felicia Leatherwood, at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon four years ago; talk about a full circle moment! Through their partnership, we’ve been able to see the beauty and versatility of natural hair like never before. 

In lieu of tonight’s big event, Felicia reflects on her work with Issa and the opportunity to show the world that natural hair can be timeless, beautiful and classy: 

Issa and I met at the 2013 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. We actually sat next to each other at the luncheon and I gave her my card and said, ‘Let me know if you ever need a natural hair stylist.’ 

Well, I didn’t hear from her for about six months and one day out of the blue, she sent me an email asking about my styling and maintenance services. Since then, it’s been a wonderful love affair with me and her beautiful natural hair. 

My first time working with Issa Rae’s hair was a great experience, because anytime I work with natural hair, I learn a story about how my clients eat, sleep and work.  Issa’s hair responded so well to everything I did to it; from the conditioning to the coloring to the styling. Her hair was always on point. So much so, that it has flourished and grown before our very eyes.

My favorite red carpet moment with Issa is hard to choose because I’ve loved so many of her looks. If I had to pick, I would say that the 2017 Golden Globes look was probably one of my favorites. The style I put on her was not only sleek and glamorous, but it went well with her total look, and showed her more sophisticated side.  She looked regal, confident and timeless and it made me proud to be able to represent the natural hair community on the red carpet. 

I always like to respect my client’s boundaries and do great work. That is what’s important to me, so it’s less about friendship and more about making my clients look and feel their best. As a hairstylist spending very private moments working closely with clients, I make sure that I create a very comfortable and fun environment so that together we produce the best results. And why not laugh and enjoy the moments of creating something special in the interim?

Frazer Harrison

The TV star wore a regal rope twist style to this year's Golden Globe Awards. 

I’m very proud to have the wonderful opportunity to show the world that natural hair can be timeless, beautiful and classy all at once. Whenever Issa or any of my clients make appearances in front of cameras, I feel that it inspires women all over the world to feel important, beautiful and curious about their own tresses and what could be possible with their ideals about body images.  I am very grateful to have one of THE BEST jobs in the world.  The gift of making women of color look more beautiful every time they sit in my chair. 

I love what I do and it is my pleasure to come up with various hairstyles for Miss Issa Rae.  She is truly amazing!

ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards premieres Sunday, March 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN. 


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