Michelle Obama’s hairdresser Johnny Wright brings starpower to cancer fundraiser

Johnny Wright had a huge smile on his face — and why not? His biggest client, Michelle Obama, is sporting the now-famous bangs he created for her on the cover of Vogue’s April issue.

“I love them,” he told us Thursday. “I think they’re fresh. Some people love them, some people hate them. But that’s the beauty of hair.”


Hairdresser Johnny Wright shaves cancer survivor Janice Ferebee at the “Big Chop to Stop Cancer” fundraiser Thursday at Immortal Beloved salon. (Kea Taylor/Imagine Photography)

Hair has been very, very good to the stylist from Chicago. Wright, 35, starting cutting hair when he was just 13 and quickly developed a VIP client list. A few years ago, his agent called and said, “I have a job for you. It’s with a senator’s wife. It’s not paying much, but something may come out of it.”

First lady MichelleObama gestures as he speaks in her hometown of Chicago, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, as she makes a major announcement helping to bring back physical activity to area schools, while celebrating the third anniversary of her 'Lets Move' program. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Michelle Obama and her bangs in Chicago last month. (M. Spencer Green/AP Photo)

The woman was Obama, they hit it off and the rest is history — including the bangs, a “collaborative effort” with the first lady.

Now, tell us, Johnny: Is she growing them out already? “We don’t know,” he said. “We don’t think about things like that. It’s a fun style right now.”

Wright — tall, animated, infectious grin — now lives in D.C. and spent the day at Immortal Beloved salon where he sheared five women who had won a raffle to get super-short haircuts from the master. The “Big Chop to Stop Cancer” event benefited ZuriWorks, a support group for African-American women with cancer.

“People don’t ask black women to cut their hair,” explained founder Andrene Taylor. “We’re asking them to do something dramatic. The idea is that these women are walking billboards for us.” Taylor lost all her hair during treatment for Hodgkin’s disease: “The first person I called was my hairdresser. For African-Americans, the salon is a safe and trusted place.”

She recruited Wright, who was happy to deploy his new starpower. “I can lend my brand to things like this — things that matter, which I think is amazing,” he said. “I can also talk to my celebrity clients to get them on board.

”“I think it’s cute,” he told Janice Ferebee as he finished shaving her head — and, you know, it was. The author went bald to celebrate her first cancer-free year. “I thought it was exciting to meet someone cutting the hair of the first lady,” she told us. Next up for Wright? He’s not sure, maybe some TV, maybe something else. “I never set goals,” he shrugged, flashing that huge grin. “I think goals are limiting. I let my life just do what it do. It works out.”

Earlier: Is Michelle Obama letting her bangs grow out already?, 2/27/13

And also earlier: Johnny Wright, the man who styles Michelle Obama’s hair, 3/26/09

Related: Michelle Obama returns to Vogue cover as a first lady who’s melded style, influence, 3/14/13

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Roxanne Roberts is a feature writer for the Style section.
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Amy Argetsinger · March 14, 2013