Smith Lets Her Hair Down for 'Shear Genius'
Former 'Charlie's Angel' learned about hairdos and hair-don'tsLOS ANGELES --
The former "Charlie's Angels" star is the host and judge for "Shear Genius," a reality show that offers 12 hairstylists a chance to compete for the coveted title, a styling feature in Allure magazine and $100,000 in seed money.
To prove themselves worthy, they'll need to run the gamut of creative and nerve-wracking challenges that include creating a day-to-evening 'do, straightening African-American hair, perfecting Vidal Sassoon's "Nancy Kwan" bob and of course, using the aforementioned unconventional tools.
"When I saw the garden shears, the box cutters, I was then in awe of all the stylists," Smith tells Zap2it.com. "I thought that was fun. I really, really liked that. That probably was my favorite."
As an actress, designer and entrepreneur, Smith wasn't that familiar with the intensity and creativity behind high-end hairstyling. Nevertheless, she's gleaned some knowledge about hair over the years from her work with industry stylists like Jose Eber and her stint as the iconic Breck Girl, whose ranks include Kim Basinger, Brooke Shields, Cybill Shepherd, Cheryl Tiegs and Erin Gray.
Smith works alongside three fellow judges: celebrity stylist Sally Herschberger, who's known for creating Meg Ryan's famous shag, Allure's fashion director Michael Carl and a rotating guest judge spot filled by the likes of Frederick Fekkai, Ken Paves, Gerren and Eber. Stylist Rene Fris will serve as the competitors' salon manager and adviser, the rather hunkier and less avuncular counterpart of "Project Runway's" Tim Gunn.
"I came away understanding so much more about cut," says Smith. "You know about your own hair, but you don't always know what it takes to go from dark to light, from long to short. You learn what is right and what is wrong. We watched the Sally shag and the slicing into the hair. It might look choppy, but hey, it is definitely a precision cut."
There won't be any shags in Smith's future though. Despite a brief flirtation with the "ducktail" hairstyle and a chin-length cut after having her second child, the actress has maintained a more consistent, conservative style.
"I tend to like long hair because my hair is curly, and I like something easy. That's why I keep with the classic cut of long layers," Smith explains. "Sometimes I'll go with shorter bangs or a shorter, more layered look. But in general it's pretty classic, pretty easy: put it up, put it down. This cut works the best for me. I don't want to put a lot of time into it. A good haircut will save the day in that you can do anything with it."
She takes advantage of this versatility on the show, relying on stylist Brant Mayfield to create a different look for her every week's episode. It's a departure for her since she's used to her close working relationship with her personal stylist, Eber, who was also responsible for the signature look of fellow "Charlie's Angels" castmate Farrah Fawcett in the '70s.
"Farrah hair had a life of its own. It sort of needed its own phone line," jokes Smith. "Jose certainly was responsible for that wilder, layered look that was more choppy. Farrah was perfect for it because of the texture of her hair. She had curly hair, but a lot of hair. She owned it. It couldn't have gotten better."
Despite her admiration for the luscious-looking cut, Smith didn't enjoy seeing it become a ubiquitous style.
"I think that's sort of sad because I think people need to find their own unique look," she explains. "Certainly on 'Shear Genius,' it will point out that in choosing a hairstyle, it must be compatible to your features, to the type of hair texture you have, to your lifestyle, your personality. To just copy something, it's not good."
Certainly the show's competitors have no problem expressing their own unique styles and personalities. This eclectic bunch from all over the U.S., many with international backgrounds, range from a hair "designer" dubbed The Wizard by his clientele to a tattooed and pierced rocker who loves being a heterosexual hairstylist to a celebrity stylist who uses clippers instead of shears.
"We all had our favorites, and we all thought, 'Ah, that person is going to go to the end,'" observes Smith. "But it really isn't just the technical aspect, it's the overall. One time they'd win a challenge, and then next time they'd lose. They'd sort of go over the top in creating something that you'd think, 'Gosh, they were so good last time. Why did they do this?' But they'd reach for something that was not realistic.
"I thought what was interesting is that it wasn't a sprint, it was a marathon. The stylist that could really go and remain calm throughout each challenge will be the one that sees it through to the end and win the big prize of 'Shear Genius.'"
"Shear Genius" premieres after the "Top Design" finale on Wednesday, April 11 at 11 p.m. ET/PT and moves to its regular timeslot the following week at 10 p.m. ET/PT.