By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
“Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” It’s a clichéd phrase I have yet to hear verbatim at this point in my acting career. But still, more often than not, they don’t call and I am faced with the inevitable rationalizing that follows any failed audition I attend. “I chose the wrong monologue.” “They cast someone of a totally different ethnicity.” “They didn’t like my outfit.” “They didn’t like my hair.” I’m aware these statements seem like arbitrary excuses used to coddle one’s ego in the face of rejection. But what if it WAS my hair? I’ll be damned if that’s what’s standing in my way of being Hollywood’s next star!
Fortunately, I now have the experts at Lepine behind me all the way. The salon is located on Madison Avenue at 61st Street amidst every top designer’s storefront; so needless to say, I felt like a celebrity getting ready for the Oscars upon entering the loft-like and spacious modern salon.
Lepine is known for creating new looks for each client, setting trends and giving personalized attention to satisfy individual needs. It was just the type of salon both myself and my acting career needed! I was introduced to Kim, the owner and founder of Lepine. Kim was extremely down-to-earth, and she immediately put me at ease. After my last hairdresser (from a not-to-be-mentioned NYC salon) made me feel like I was back in a junior high cafeteria of catty cliques, I was relieved to find Kim friendly, supportive, and easy to talk to. However, I didn’t want to do a lot of the talking this time around. I wanted Kim to tell me what I’ve been doing (or not doing) wrong with my hair all these years. Frankly, I was tired of watching celebrities change hair length and hair color virtually every other day while still managing to look great with each new style. I was tired of watching makeovers on an Oprah-esque show and saying, “Aha! That’s what kind of haircut and color she needed to look fantastic!” while wondering what would be done to make ME over. So when I met Kim, I knew I was in good hands and was excited to see what was in store.
After a brief mention to Kim that I was very fond of my long locks and would like to keep them that way, Kim started to cut…and cut… and cut. I’ll admit I was a tad nervous that my lack of styling ability and susceptibility to frizz could not control the layers and bangs that were slowly forming on my head, but I was not to worry: I already established a trusting relationship with Kim. I knew she wanted me to look my very best and help me land every part I auditioned for. I was even tempted to say, “Forget what I said about long locks. Go nuts. Give me one of those short and modern funky cuts I see in all the magazines,” but I refrained, knowing just how long it takes my hair to grow long again.
As she continued to snip off the chemically processed split ends of my hair (I had the Japanese Hair Straightening treatment done almost a year ago), we bonded like girls at a sleepover party. I asked her why my roommate could wear wide scarves stylishly across her forehead while I could not. She said my roommate must have a heart-shaped face (wide on top, narrow on the bottom), while I had a peanut shaped head (the complete opposite). Yikes! That was a bit tough (and embarrassing) to hear, and yet, I new that this information would help me make better hair-related decisions in the future. I asked her how celebrities are able change their looks so frequently, while the rest of us panic upon receiving a bad haircut. She explained that celebrities have hours to spend on their hair, have the money for good extensions to vary length, and have people on hand to touch them up continuously throughout a photo shoot. When a celeb dyes her hair a totally new color, it’s quite possible she is also dying her eyebrows and even her skin pigmentation to go with it! And let’s face it: A funky haircut needs a funky wardrobe, not to mention a funky personality to pull off the entire look. Who has the money and the energy for all this? It was nothing I didn’t already know, but hearing this information firsthand from someone with Kim’s experience made me feel better. At long last, Kim put down her scissors and explained that she would refine the cut when the hair was dry. That’s when she called the colorist over.
Upon meeting the fabulous Vara Pookie, I again felt at ease. Vara was spunky but professional. She applied the perfectly blended reddish highlights throughout the top of my very dark brown hair with ease and dexterity. Highlights look great on blond curls, for instance, because you could see the texture of the curls better that way. I, personally, prefer my hair to be straight, and I actually like the monochromatic shade of dark brown I’ve been sporting my whole life. However, like blond curls, hair on film needs to show texture. It’s a reality every actress must consider. With highlights, light can penetrate dark hair more easily, creating dimension, be it for television, film, or still photos. During my headshot photo shoot last year, for example, I had the brilliant idea of putting my hair up in a sporty ponytail. When I got the contact sheets back, it looked like I had a big Magic 8 Ball on my head. Fortunately, Vara gave me some subtle highlights that show off the movement and dimension of the hair, without diminishing my identity as a brunette. Perhaps now I can get that sporty spice look in my next set of headshots!
After a brief stint under the heating lamps, the foils were removed, the hair was rinsed and the highlights emerged. While Kim blew out my hair, I was given some helpful hints on how to straighten my otherwise curly fro:
1) Point the blow-dryer downward and run your fingers in a downward motion, pulling gently, to flatten hair.
2) Use your brush on damp to dry hair rather than on very wet hair.
3) Use different sized brushes/bristles for different parts of your hair and start by drying the front and sides thoroughly. Dry the back of your hair last.
4) The blow-dryer should have an attachment to further separate the hair from the metal piece at the front of the dryer, which can be very damaging to the hair.
When my hair was finally dry, Kim cut a bit more to even out the edges and then showed me the different products I should be using. Lepine carries a full line of hair products and accessories (i.e. a liquid wax which is very helpful in preventing frizz and also controlling shape).
It should also be noted that Lepine offers skincare treatments and services including waxing, pedicures, eye-brow sculpting and make-up application. Check out their website at www.lepinehair.com or call 212-355-4247 to book your appointment for a full day of beauty!
Even though it was way after closing time, Kim graciously showed me the many ways of styling my new look before sending me into the trendy nightlife of New York City. With my new cut, I can wear my hair curly, straight, up or down. I can part it in a variety of places and go easy or light on how many bangs I have. Who knows, perhaps I will gain the nerve to cut my hair off at the shortest layer I now have! Well, let’s take one step at a time, shall we? Either way, Kim and Vara have certainly helped me feel more confident when auditioning. I wouldn’t be surprised if the casting directors ask me where I go to get my hair done!