Antwon Jackson, Hair Stylist
You may not know his name. You may not recognize his face. But chances are, you have seen his work. Meet Antwon Jackson
, the hair stylist for talk show host Wendy Williams
. When I met Jackson it wasn’t his amazing job that captivated me. It was his passion for what he does, the humility in his voice, and ultimately his story.
It wasn’t long ago that Jackson was working his dream job as a hair stylist in North Carolina. Still, he wanted to take his dream to the next level. Finally, the chance to meet and work with celebrity hair stylist, Oscar James
, presented itself. Jackson was ready only to have Murphy’s law intervene. He booked the wrong flight, then drove all night to get to his meeting on time only to have the photo shoot cancelled-twice. Still, Jackson refused to let his dream be deferred. The Emmy Award-winning
stylist took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss reaching for your dreams and perfecting your style.
RDD: How did you prepare yourself to go from Salon to Celebrity Stylist?
AJ: First, I researched my chosen field. Then I was given an opportunity to assist Oscar James and later assisted Hadiiya Barbel in 2009. At the time she was the key hairstylist for the Wendy Williams Show. She taught me how to differentiate salon hair from TV hair.
RDD: When you encountered all of those obstacles when you first came to New York (the wrong flight, cancelled photo shoots. etc.) did you begin to have second thoughts?
AJ: No. It gave me a chance to get to know Oscar James. And later Oscar told me what I already knew. Which was that he was really taking a big chance with me. Had I not shown up to that first meeting on time, I wouldn’t have been able to work with him again.
RDD: What’s it like working with Wendy Williams?
AJ: It’s great. Her love for big hair, all things gaudy, and all things leopard-she’s a real glamour-puss. The great thing is she challenges
me and that helps me grow.
RDD: What is a day at work like for you?
AJ: A day at work for me is about balance. It begins with Wendy’s wardrobe. I have to understand the concept for that day, so before
I think of how I’ll style her hair, I consult with the wardrobe stylist. So if her outfit has a western vibe or if she’s wearing a leather dress, I style her hair softer. But if she’s wearing chiffon or something soft, I give her an edgier style.
RDD: What does it feel like to win an Emmy award?
AJ: It’s indescribable. If feels great. I can’t explain it. It feels rewarding. To set a goal and then achieve it feels gratifying.
RDD: So winning an Emmy was always a goal for you?
AJ: Yes. I assisted Oscar James and when he won I was so inspired. I knew one day I would win an Emmy. I kept saying that to
myself, ‘One day I’m going to win an Emmy.’
RDD: So many women wear weaves today, but there’s a lot of concern over the care of them. Can you give us some style tips for
maintaining healthy hair and caring for weaves?
AJ: Regular shampoo and treatments whether it’s moisturizing or protein, and bi-monthly trims. Even with extensions the hair must be treated as your own by properly shampooing and conditioning. And protecting hair at night with satin or silk coverage to seal in moisture and to preserve style. Cotton pillow cases rob the hair of moisture, leaving hair dry, brittle and ultimately breaking.
RDD: Can you speak on the benefits of wearing wigs and weaves?
AJ: One of the benefits of wearing a wig or a weave is the amount of time off that your natural hair has from from heat and chemicals. Another is that it gives you the chance to play with different lengths and colors without the commitment.
RDD: When I think of wigs, I still picture a little old lady or a “wiggy” look. What’s the right way to wear a wig and what are the benefits?
AJ: Wigs are so convenient. There’s no stress on the hair. The thing is you have to customize them. A wig needs a cut, color and to properly fit your face so that it looks natural.
RDD: I have a style question for you. I’ve seen it slowly creeping back on to the pages of magazines. Has the mushroom returned?
AJ: It never went away [laughs]. There have just been variations of it. That 1960′s Vidal Sassoon mushroom is a classic. I love it. And it is making a comeback. It will be softer with more body this time.
RDD: What do you want women to know?
AJ: Although some see hair as a physical manifestation of ones identity, don’t take yourself too seriously when it comes to trying new looks. Have fun with your hair.
RDD: What is your advice to those pursuing their dreams?
AJ: If you never go out on the limb you’ll never see the spectacular view!
RDD: Do you see yourself as a role model for others in the industry?
AJ: I don’t consider myself a role model. I’m still learning and therefore still growing. I do enjoy sharing experiences and knowledge as they were, and still are, being shared with me. I feel that one of the ways to be successful and make money is to help others be successful and make money. I only put out what i wish to receive.