The Man, The Father, & Creative Genius, these are only a few of the titles which describe who Elgin Charles Williams is. Mr. Elgin Charles is a world-renowned hair stylist who is famously referred to as the “Emperor of Hair”. When it comes to the beauty and entertainment industry, Elgin Charles is a legend. Spanning a 25-year career, Elgin Charles built his brand as the only black celebrity hair stylist in posh Beverly Hills. With an A-list client list which includes Diahann Carroll, Drew Barrymore, Serena Williams, Gabrielle Union, Estelle, Verdine White, Star Jones, and Tia & Tamera Mowry, Elgin Charles is no joke. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Charles, along with his publisher, Celebrity Ghostwriter Ardre Orie for his forthcoming ‘tell-all’ memoir. Orie is a celebrity ghostwriter, book publishing expert, playwright, film director and CEO of 13th & Joan Publishing House. She has written for clients including VH1, MTV, WETV, Bravo, Centric, YouTube, Grammy Award-winning artists, the sports, and entertainment industries as well. Her venture with Elgin Charles focuses on his journey to becoming the “Emperor of Hair”, long-standing rumors regarding his sexuality, marriage to actress Jackee Harry, and so much more.
Q: How did you get into the hair business & who is Elgin Charles the Hair Stylist?
A: That’s good question, I’ve been asked that question all the time and I always say the same answer. I did not get into the hair business, the hair business was in me from the beginning of my life. I’ve always had this passion and love for hair and I was always just attracted to it. As time when on, I continued that love for hair not as a career, but for the love of it. It wasn’t until I got to be about 24 is when I realized the glass ceiling of corporate America just wasn’t for me. I was frustrated because I always felt like that was a limit there for me. My mind kept saying, “Man, do hair, you love it, you’ve been doing it all your life, the ladies are going to love you, and you’ll make a lot of money. So I was in LA and I heard about Vidal Sassoon, and he was so big and over the top. I said I had wanted to be the black Vidal Sassoon. When I was working for Smith Barney there was a lady who told me about a school called Marinello. So after doing some research, I went up there and talked to the supervisor. I told him that I wanted to change my career and go into the hair industry. I asked him straight up, “If I came to this school and do everything right, will you make sure that I get my foot in the door of a Beverly Hills salon?” He said he could make that happen. I then shook his hand and said “Alright!”. I started beauty school and did everything right. I was showed up there every day and on time. I was learning everything I needed to know about hair, the theories behind it, different chemicals, different colors and hair concepts. It was all so intriguing to me. Now, when it was over he was able to get me a position assisting in a salon on Melrose’s Place. That’s where I met Natalie Cole, Diahann Carroll, and that’s when doors opened up. When you’re in the right location and have the anointing behind you, industry doors open up and God will make a way to put your gift before man.
Elgin Charles enlisted Celebrity Ghostwriter|Book Publisher Ardre Orie, also known as The Queen of Storytelling to produce his memoirs and Orie when interviewed shared the following nuggets:
A: I go absolutely insane. Once the music comes on, my fingers struggle to keep up with my thoughts. It is not optional for me to keep something nearby to write with. I wake up in the middle of the night with full stories. I have to make sure that I write them when they come or they will inevitably get lost when I am in the shuffle of day to day life.
I can hear the words spoken and the character’s voice. It is pure madness and I would not change it for the world.
I don’t like noise when I am writing because my thoughts scream so loudly. My thoughts coupled with the music are almost overstimulating. The end result is always something that I am proud of. I think that there is such an element of gratitude to be insane in this way that it shines through into the finished product.
My process is centered on creativity. The creativity must live. I protect it at all costs. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, “Please don’t kill my vibe.”
Q: Why the book? Why now Elgin?
A: I’m at an age where I want to leave a legacy and tell my memoir. You’re at a point where you’re no longer looking up for advice or to be consoled because now you’re at an age where those who are older than you, you have to console them. You have to take on their role. So now I have all this knowledge along with the experiences I had gone through, and I just felt in my spirit that it was time to share that. It’s going to be therapeutic because I get to share all of the pain, deception, the love, and joy. I’m sharing all aspects of my life, not just hair, but also as a human being, husband, father, entrepreneur, and minister of the gospel and all the complexities I have in my life, and everything that comes with that.
Q: Elgin why bring up your sexuality in the book?
A: Why not? Nowadays with social media nothing is a secret, everything is out. I don’t have anything to hide either because I’m completely comfortable with myself and who I am. I’ve gone through the pain and tears to find out who am I in Christ, and therefore I don’t mind telling my testimony.
Q: Ardre, what is your vision for the Elgin Charles memoir?
A: I will ensure that the world is introduced to Elgin Charles as they have never seen him before. Every fiber of who he is and his experiences create a soul worth learning from. He is not only wise but very realistic in the way in which he lives and loves. If he were a character on a tv show, he would most definitely be the one with the most depth.
Q: Lastly Mr. Charles what advice would you give to the next generation of creators coming into entertainment?
A: I would tell them to master a gift that God has given you. You can be a jack of all trades, but first, you have to master one. Be very good at what you do. If you are so good and you have mastered what it is that you do, God said He will open up doors and put you before kings and queens. He will put you before great people. However, he can’t put you there if you don’t have your gift together. So when He presents you with the opportunity and you’re not ready, that’s not on God, that’s on you. So hone in on your gift and make sure it’s good. Study and stay in it. And as you’re doing that, the doors will open up automatically. You won’t have to worry about the doors opening. All you’ll have to do is be obedient. Learn your gift. That’s the attitude and mindset I approached hair with. Especially when you’re young, spend those 20, 30, 40 hours to something. Get it all because you’re young. When you give all that time to your talent, next thing you know, you’ll look up and see that the opportunities are there. the So that’s my advice, learn your gift.
Q: When is the release of the book and where can readers get it?
A: We’re planning to have the book ready for pre-sale around Christmas to the beginning of the year. It should be on Amazon and in bookstores by February. There are a lot of great stories in there. I just tell my story. It’s a good read.
Be sure to follow @elgincharles @IAMArdreOrie