Hairstylist Andre Walker: How I Became Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Mane Man’ – “I sent her some flowers saying: ‘I’m dying to get my hands in your hair.”

Andre walkerIn the latest episode of CNN’s Passion to Portfolio, Emmy-winning hairstylist Andre Walker talks about 30 years of being Oprah Winfrey’s hairstylist, how he got his big break to be known as her ‘Mane Man’, and how it has led to a business venture that means his products sell online and at more than 750 retail stores in the US.

Speaking to Passion to Portfolio, Andre Walker recounts how he came to be Oprah Winfrey’s hairstylist 30 years ago:

“I had a salon for a couple of years before I met her; before going into the salon, her show was on, so I was watching it. And I thought: I could do her hair and I had sent her some flowers, saying ‘I’m dying to get my hands in your hair.’ And then, here it is, 30 years later.”

On being a celebrity hairstylist, Walker says:

“I think your work should be your religion…it should be what you love…if you want to be a great hairstylist, the celebrities are going to come.”

On the importance of power women having perfect hair, Walker tells CNN:

“Powerful women are often the centre of attention, whether they’re speaking to the media, campaigning for president or running a Fortune 500 company… A few strands out of place can become distracting to their audience or can easily ruin a red carpet look. So usually there is a someone like me on the sidelines when a powerful woman is making an appearance to ensure she is always ‘picture perfect.'”

Speaking about a time when Oprah Winfrey didn’t like the way he had styled her hair, Walker tells CNN:

“And I remember, she went and looked in the mirror, and she’s like, ‘I look like the prom queen, I am not going to a prom. You have to do something to change this’.”

Getting emotional as he speaks about the last 30 years, Walker says:

“30 years of working with Oprah, for the most part, it’s just been a huge education for life for me… Working with Oprah has definitely changed my career.”

He also gives some advice that anyone can follow:

“Your hairstyles can be a varied as your wardrobe… There are certain clothes that you wear to a meeting, a formal dinner, a casual lunch or a fun night out for a concert and dancing. And there are different hairstyles that will work for all of these looks and occasions… Your hair should always look healthy and your hairstyle should reflect your personal style. In the end, whatever your style choice, if it makes you feel good your confidence will shine.”

Passion to Portfolio is a segment within World Business Today airing on CNN International. Every fortnight, it features an inspirational story of someone who has turned their passion into a business opportunity

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