Celeb hairstylist Derek J has become renown for his tell-it-like-it-is personality, his penchant for killer heels and flowy kaftans. But the former Fashion Queens co-host is more than a TV sound byte—and now he is putting more time and dedication into his first passion: hair.
We chatted it up with the Atlanta-based stylist for a quick chat about his new ventures, the one trend he wishes would go away and the one thing we all need to do get back to our childhood glory hair days.
— Stephenetta (isis) Harmon
HYPE HAIR: We haven’t seen you in front of the camera for a while. What are you up to now?
DEREK J: I’m back with my first passion, which is hair. I’m behind the scenes now — movie sets and TV sets.
HH: What shows are you working on?
DEREK J: I [recently] wrapped up the second season of TALES—BET and Irv Gotti’s television show. I did seasons one and two. I was also part of seasons three and four of Saints and Sinners. I’ve had so many shows! I think I did 12 projects last year, like Behind the Movement, the Rosa Parks story. I was excited to be able to create these period looks for the 1950s and 1960s to help bring these characters to life.
HH: Why behind the scenes?
DEREK J: It allows me to be able to be creative and put my knowledge of hair to use. And to be able to see a vision that you have for something you made and to see that character come to life makes me overjoyed. I don’t think that people really understand the thought that goes behind it. I didn’t understand it until I started doing it.
HH: And you’re still running your salon, The J Spot Salon by Derek J. How do you keep balanced?
DEREK J: Luckily, because I was on TV, a lot of my clients understand my schedule. So I can be on set Monday through Friday, and I’m in the salon on Saturday and Sunday.
HH: Do you have any favorite moments during this creation process?
DEREK J: I think my most memorable moments are with my team—my hairstylists and makeup artist—and the fact that we’re able to kind of come together, collaborate and create these hair stories every day with each other.
HH: What kind of stories are you telling with hair?
DEREK J: I’m not a person that tells hair what to do, I let hair tell me where it wants to go. I gotta let it come to me. I gotta touch, I gotta feel, I gotta see where it flows, what it does, where it parts itself. I’m all about beauty and glam. I like people to look at your hair and say, “Wow, you’ve got beautiful hair.” I’m not priding myself because I was able to color your hair blue, pink and yellow and then add swooping baby hair. I’m not about to be whipping and dipping your hair all day. But, what I do pride myself in is being a great cutter, and I believe in healthy hair.