Michelle Obama hit the stage of the Democratic National Convention earlier this month to make a case to the American people for her husband’s re-election. Along with a speech, which won rave reviews from political pundits and commentators, the always-fashionable first lady made a statement with her look. Details from her dress’ designer to her nail polish color have since been revealed, but only Michelle Obama’s hair stylist, Johnny Wright, has the secret to her lovely locks.
“I tell people a woman’s hair is the first thing you hear before she speaks,” Wright said over the summer in an interview with theGrio before the convention. “Whether a woman is taking care of home or running a Fortune 500 company, her hair should be a unique expression of her personality.”
Mrs. Obama’s look for the DNC speech proved just that. From the very beginning, viewers at home were commenting on the first lady’s appearance, and her hair was the crowning glory of Michelle’s iconic style. On Twitter, comments averaged more than 28,000 tweets per minute for the 25 minutes that she appeared on stage with many wondering what designer she was wearing — Tracy Reese — and the shade and manufacturer of her nail polish (“Vogue” by Artistic Nail Design).
Gospel singer Vicki Winans also tweeted a question about the first lady’s hairdo that was probably on many minds: “Ok who flat-ironed Michelle Obama’s HAIR? Sheesh! It’s gorgeous!”
It is likely that the person responsible for her loose curls that evening was Johnny Wright. (TheGrio reached out to Wright for confirmation, but with the election in full swing, the Obama insider is keeping mum in keeping with White House protocol.)
Wright has been styling the first lady’s tresses since Barack Obama was a presidential candidate. From Chicago and a family of hairdressers, he has been in the business since he was a child. At 12, Wright says he had over 100 regular clients that would come to the makeshift parlor his parents built in their basement for his signature updos and finger waves. In 2008, he got a call from his agent to style a senator’s wife for an Essence magazine shoot. Wright said that he and Mrs. Obama hit it off immediately and after Barack Obama became president, she asked him to move to D.C. permanently to style her hair.
Wight told theGrio that styling Michelle Obama’s hair involves the application of both his conservative and edgy approaches. In preparation for the job, he also looked to examples of first ladies past for inspiration. “A lot of articles written about [Hillary Clinton] talked about how indecisive she was,” he said. “And they thought that because she changed her hair frequently in office… I immediately understood the value of having a silhouette that people recognize.”
Thus, for four years Wright’s bob design for Michelle Obama’s hair, with slight variations in style, has garnered attention at state dinners, trips abroad and other appearances since it first debuted at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.