Johnny Wright has earned the right to call himself HOTUS (Hairstylist Of The United States). After being in the White House for eight years as Michelle Obama’s official hairstylist, he has cemented his stripes in the beauty industry.
Add Tamron Hall, Queen Latifah, Angela Rye, Janet Mock, Samira Wiley and several more of our favorite melanin beauties to his roster of clients, and you understand why he’s the perfect guy for VH1’s new show To Catch A Beautician.
Alongside his kiki buddy, singer and hair chameleon Tamar Braxton, Wright is ready to call out beauticians on their shoddy work. The two hosts confront hairstylists about the bad hair jobs that left their clients underwhelmed, unsatisfied, and in some cases down right outraged, and give them a chance at redemption.
Wright chatted with ESSENCE before tonight’s premiere on VH1 to spill the tea on how it really went down with the hairstylists, his own “oops” hair moments, and whether or not everyone deserves hair redemption.
When I first heard the title I wondered if this was going to be like To Catch A Predator or Cheaters. Is someone going to get stabbed?
Johnny Wright (JW): Well, there’s a little bit of that. I’ve been telling people it’s a cross between Botched and To Catch A Predator because the stylists don’t know that they’re going to be put on spot, that they’re going to be approached by a client. So there’s a little bit of that element there.
Did you ever have any reservations because this might get hairy, no pun intended.
JW: You know, I think every single time when it was time for a scene, Tamar and I were always so nervous because you just never know. Hairstylists, we are artists. And as artists we’re very sensitive about our sh– so to speak. A lot of hairstylists are very egotistical as well. So to be put in a situation like that, that you’re getting confronted and you’re not knowing that you’re getting confronted, you just never know what’s going to happen.
And you know as Black women we are sensitive about our hair.
JW: Black women are extremely sensitive about their hair. But what I noticed about this show, because we’ve touched on all types of hair; it’s personal to everyone. People’s vanity is personal to them but hair is just the catalyst that brought them here. There’s so much more going on that needs to be put on the table that you will see throughout the episodes of this show.
Did you ever run into resistance from the stylists about doing the redemption hair or were they all pretty open to sort of redeeming themselves?
JW: We had some stylists that were open to it, then we had some stylists that were completely resistant to it. We may have had some stylists that just didn’t want to be bothered at all after they found out what was going on. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster throughout the whole season. But we do get both sides of the story. And I tried my best throughout the whole season to be on the stylist’s side when I understood their take on what happened.
Have you ever done someone’s hair and you knew it was bad?
JW: I’ve done some styles that I felt they were bad. And I’ve done some styles that I felt they were good and the clients didn’t like it. So I don’t want anyone to think that because I have this show that I don’t make mistakes. I do, but I’m always willing to learn. I’m always open to going to classes and learning new tricks and learning new techniques. And if you don’t know how to create the style, say that. Communicate that and you can move on.
Do you think that all stylists deserve a chance at redemption?
JW: Everybody deserves a second chance. In everything, in every walk of life, in everything that you do, every mistake or every “fail” that you’ve had or whatever it is, you deserve a second chance.
To Catch A Beautician hosted by Johnny Wright and Tamar Braxton debuts tonight on VH1 at 9PM EST.