The story incorrectly said that actress-designer LisaRaye McCoy-Misick married the president of Turks and Caicos. Michael Misick was the premier.
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The Man Who Styles Michelle Obama's Hair
As he sips his martini, Wright says that the topics open for discussion include his career and the clients who have given him the okay to talk about them. He says they include actresses Lauren London and Vivica A. Fox, Victoria's Secret model Selita Ebanks, WNBA star Candace Parker and "Sex and the City" writer Candace Bushnell.
Wright is also forthcoming about the challenges of relocating again. He wants time to get his footing in the chaos of the move -- a new city, a new house and a new salon at which to work. Two weeks ago, Wright chose Corte Salon on U Street, in the thick of hip Washington, as his work address -- at least, the one that's not 1600 Penn.
"There were several things I was looking for in a salon," Wright says. "I wanted someplace professional, but also warm. I wanted my clients to feel at home and comfortable. I didn't want someplace that was so formal that it seemed, well, stuffy."
Michelle Obama is not even Wright's first first lady.
Actress and designer LisaRaye McCoy-Misick, a Chicago native who in 2006 married the president of Turks and Caicos, says that Wright has done her hair for seven years.
"Look at him! He's doing two first ladies!" says McCoy-Misick, who goes by LisaRaye professionally.
McCoy-Misick says she values their friendship as much as how Wright does her hair. "I trust him totally when it comes to my hair and style," she says.
Wright is sorely missed at Frederick Fekkai, says front-desk manager Felicity Alston, adding that some of Wright's clients still call. They feel they've lost a friend.
"Of course, they loved him because he's amazing at doing hair, but there is also a sense about him that makes people open up to him," Alston says. "They not only love their hair -- they love to be around him."
Then as now, what sets him apart is his relationships with his clients, says Wright, who this week reportedly re-signed to promote an array of hair-care products by Softsheen-Carson, a subsidiary of L'Oreal. He says the closeness he shares with his clients is also what drives him to protect their privacy.
Wright hasn't entirely left Hollywood behind. He has signed a development deal to create a show with L.A.-based 44 Blue Productions, which has produced such modest reality shows as the Style network's "Split Ends" and MSNBC's "Lockup."
"People tell me everything -- they reveal their true secrets to me," Wright says. "It takes a lot of trust to have that kind of connection and I value that. I will not compromise the trust my clients put in me."
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Wright says doing hair is in his blood. He has two uncles who are hairdressers.
At age 3 he started scratching and oiling his grandmother Minnie Brown's scalp.
"She did hair until she was 91," Wright says of Brown. "She's where I got the desire to do hair."
By middle school, he was styling family and friends on the back porch of his parents' house on Edbrooke Avenue on Chicago's South Side.
"I washed hair in my mom's kitchen sink," he says. After a while, the family grew tired of all the hair in the sink, so his parents, Vernita and Edward, built a salon in the basement for the youngest of their four sons. Wright shampooed in the utility sink; his workstation was an old desk his father had fashioned with a mirror.
Business was swift, but in high school, he wanted to take it to another level. That's when he decided to use a classmate, DeKeila Farrell, for his first marketing campaign. "She was the most popular girl in school, so I did her hair for free," Wright says, laughing.
He showed off his best work on her: fancy French rolls and finger waves. Then the cash flowed as other girls crowded into his shop after school to get the same look. "People would ask: 'Oooh, girl! Who did your hair?' " says DeKeila Farrell-Gill, 32, who lives near Chicago.
It is not lost on her that she was Wright's first star client. She always expected that his confidence and work ethic would propel him to great things.
"He was very good back then, and its obvious that he still is," she says. "The first lady has good hands in her hair."