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He styled Michelle Obama's hair for years. Now Johnny Wright is tackling hair disasters on a new VH1 show

Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Hairdresser Johnny Wright moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue television and red carpet work. After 13 years, which included a stint at the White House, his TV dream is coming true with the premiere of a new VH1 series.

Wright -- who styled Michelle Obama's hair when she was first lady -- helps fix damaged tresses on "To Catch a Beautician," which is scheduled to premiere at 9 p.m. EDT Monday. Stylists accused of giving a client a bad hairstyle are called in to meet with Wright. They get to explain themselves before they are ambushed by TV personality Tamar Braxton and the unhappy client. Stylists then redo the 'do with guidance from Wright.

"It's like the hair version of 'Botched,'" Wright said of the E! network series about bad plastic surgery that is ultimately fixed by two celebrity doctors. "The only difference is the client brings the stylist in to confront them about that bad hairdo, and then I put them through a boot camp so they can get their hairdo right. They get a chance to redeem themselves."

Wright gives tips and tricks to a different stylist on each of the 20 half-hour episodes. A VH1 spokeswoman said none of the beauticians are from Chicago.

Wright, 42, grew up in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, and his parents now live in city's south suburbs. He said he started doing hair when he was around 11 years old and styled his classmates and teachers at Percy L. Julian High School. He attended Dudley Beauty College on Chicago's South Side and spent time at salons on the North and South sides.

He's worked with daytime show host Tamron Hall and actresses LisaRaye McCoy, Queen Latifah and Kerry Washington, among other celebrities. His agent contacted him about styling Obama's hair for a magazine shoot shortly after her husband announced his run for president in 2007.

 

Wright and Obama hit it off, so he moved to D.C. to style her hair for eight years. He returned to LA in 2017, after former president Barack Obama's second term ended, and now he's sharing his expertise on TV. He said viewers will find the lessons he gives on the show useful, especially as more people do their hair at home amid salon closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm very passionate about what I do. I love what I do. I want people to gain a greater sense of respect for the industry and the craft itself because I do think there's so many talented people out there," Wright said. "And I also want (viewers) to learn the importance of clear communication. I think that's one thing that we recognized that was a big problem in a lot of the situations when a client did walk out with something they did not ask for."

(c)2020 Chicago Tribune

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