Despite working with the most powerful family in the world, Wright says the actual glam room in the White House was surprisingly humble. "You would think it would be this huge room with a vanity and all this stuff, but it wasn't," he said. "But the space was just a little room. It doubled as her second assistant's office in the residence, and it just happened to have a shampoo bowl in there, so that's where we did her hair. It's also the same place where the president would get his haircut. It was very simple."
The Politics of Hair — and Where He Took Some Risks
In a way, how you wear your hair is a form of storytelling. That's something Wright kept top of mind at all times: "Hairstyling tells you a lot about a woman before she even says a word — it can tell you if she's sassy, conservative, sexy, or edgy, or all these things, just by the way she chooses to wear her hair. I understood how important that illustration of a story was, particularly for the first African American first lady of the United States."
"Hairstyling tells you a lot about a woman before she even says a word. I understood how important that illustration of a story was, particularly for the first African American first lady of the United States."
There were moments throughout those eight years where he had to be especially mindful with Obama's hair, particularly when visiting other leaders from around the world. "I did my due diligence to make sure she looked appropriate," he said. "Sometimes she wore a head covering, and other times I just wanted to make sure there was this sense of submission and respect in someone else's country. I remember when she met Queen Elizabeth, I pulled her hair back in a bun, so it was half-up and half-down, just to give it a little more innocence."
That's not to say he didn't take risks — he did. "In the grand scheme of things, I was able to switch up her hairstyle a lot in those eight years. I never did too much of a change, but you have to give some play room for Black women, because Black women change their hair more frequently. It's more accepted and understood. We mostly kept it to a long bob, but we've also gone a little shorter, cut bangs, waved it out. We did have some fun."
What the Political World Could Use More of Right Now
The one thing Wright says the United States has been missing the most since the Obama's left the White House is some solid representation of this country. "They left that administration unscathed. They did everything right, in a sense of how to be a first lady and a president — there were no scandals, and they surrounded themselves with smart people."