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From Wigs To Clippers: A Conversation With Master Hair Stylist Stacey Morris

Through a special process of adding hair to the scalp, Stacey Morris fashioned a hairstyle on Michael B. Jordan (left) that mirrored the do’ of young Kobe Bryant.

Stacey Morris excels at tackling uncharted turf. Nominated for a 2017 Makeup and Hair Stylist Guild Award for hair styling in a commercial in Apple TV’s “Father Time” spot, master hair stylist/barber Morris doesn’t always know how she’ll make the look work when she first gets the call, but knows she will figure it out.

“I never say no because it’s challenging. I know I can get it done,” said Morris.

For the commercial spot that features Kobe Bryant, on the set of a fictions feature depicting his life, coaching actor Michael B. Jordan who’s portraying him, Morris was recommended by associates to replicate Bryant’s high school do.   Informed by the producers that they wanted her to create a wig, Morris knew designing a hair piece that looked authentic in the timeframe was unrealistic.  She was able to persuade the production team that she had a better method.

To create the look, Morris used a mix of authentic hair and adhesive and literally built the hair on the actor’s head. Once more than enough hair was added, she styled it and formulated the slight chemical process Bryant’s hair had at the time through additionally textured hair and products that gave it just the right sheen.  She utilized her barbering skills to finesse the details, which included taper the style at the hairline and nape of the neck.

“Once you build the hairline up, you cut it,” said Morris. “It is very meticulous.”

For over twenty years, Morris has been defining solutions for challenging hair styles, from creating a wig for Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of crooner James ‘Thunder’ Early in “Dreamgirls” to re-building the dreads Malachi Kirby wore for his character Kunta Kinte in the 2016 remake of “Roots.”

“He had shaved his head in between (the hiatus) so I had to recreate them, and have them match exactly,” recalled Morris.

Although Morris had done a lot of prep work for the recreation of the period hair, the look wasn’t matching exactly. She had created long, skinny dreads and cut them into smaller pieces.  During and early test with the actor, she felt the hair piece looked “beady” and removed it, expecting to start from scratch the next day.  The hair, soaked with water during the clean-up process, had been left overnight to dry.  The next morning she discovered the water loosened it up just enough to replicate the perfect, natural texture.

In addition to working on films, commercials, television movies and series including “Black-ish” and “The Voice”, for which she earned her first Emmy nomination in 2016, Morris has a stable of regular clients including Ron Pearlman and Will Smith.  This past year, she took on yet another role, this time in front of the camera.  She is featured in Kim Kimble’s popular WE TV’s reality series L.A. Hair.  A long-time colleague and friend of Kimble, Morris had previously been invited to join the show but her commitments on projects didn’t align with the show’s production schedule.  With one of the show’s cast departures leaving a vacancy, Morris found herself on hiatus and able to fill the open spot.

“This year they added a barber to the cast, and it adds something different to the show,” said Morris. “It’s been a great learning experience and good for me, it’s so interesting to highlight the work in front of the camera.”