Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: Tell us about yourself. Who is Tracey Cephus?
Tracey: I am a renowned, licensed cosmetologist, who has worked with many celebrities for over thirty years in the beauty industry. I am a people person, great listener, and modest individual. I have a keen gift of being able to listen to others and support them without judgment. As a celebrity stylist, I have had people from all walks of life sit in my chair and confide in me. I am literally a “head doctor.” I started from humble beginnings, but my mother instilled in me invaluable character and work ethic. My personal mantra is that you have to have a vision about yourself and hold onto that vision fiercely. With this belief, I have had the honor of working on celebrities like Brenda Richie, Tamia, Kenya Moore, and Pebbles.
QFTD: What inspired you to enter the hair stylist industry?
Tracey: Prior to enrolling into beauty school, I was a kitchen beautician. I would do hair for the local people in my neighborhood and charge minimal price to earn some extra money. My clients told me, “You need to go to school for this and get paid; you are talented.” My mother was highly influential in the beginning of my career and success. My mother was the designated photographer for family functions. Anytime she captured an image, I was there. My mother’s love of people, art, and creativity motivated and inspired me to enter into a field that I am extremely passionate about. What inspired me to want to take my vision to the next level was working under an iconic beauty legend, Carol Morrow. I worked at the hottest salon in Atlanta, Escape Salon, for 10 years. Our salon was THE go-to-salon for celebrities. There, I learned how to compete in hair shows and won several Bronner Brother Awards by competing. I also had the privilege of working on Tamia’s hair at the Grammys in 1997.
QFTD: What is it about your approach and technique that gives celebrities the confidence that you will make them look amazing?
Tracey: I am not afraid to be who I am. I am original, honest, and I don’t sugarcoat or sidestep, no matter who is in my chair. I treat all of my clients like they are VIP. I am also adaptable to the ever-changing standards in the hair industry. Though, at one point, I retired from doing hair, I became best friends with Carol Morrow; because of her, I was always in the mix. This is how I was able to work on the set of Keyshia Cole’s Reality show, The Way It Is. Maurice Beeman and I worked with each other at Escape Hair Salon. We competed against each other, and he was exposed to my skills and knew my ability.
QFTD: How did you adopt such an ambitious attitude, believing your talent deserved to be displayed on a grander scale?
Tracey: I developed my goal of wanting my work to be world renowned while working at Escape Hair Salon. After working at Escape, I knew that I did not want to be a salon owner. It was just too much for me. I enjoyed the creative side, rather than the business side, of cosmetology. Earlier on in my career, I was told that I would be "least likely to succeed" because I worked at McDonalds. I developed such a competitive drive and determination after I was told that I was going to fail. I ended up winning hairstylist of the year. With my competitive spirit, and seeing that I was able to win big on a large scale, I moved to Atlanta. That is when I started working at Escape. There, I trained under the best, Carol Morrow, and won several BB competitions. Winning those competitions affirmed that I belonged at that level and boosted my confidence.
QFTD: How did you get an opportunity to work on Hunger Games: Catching Fire?
Tracey: After my tenure at Escape, I occasionally kept in contact with Maurice Beeman. One day, he texted me and invited me to style some of the extras hair on Catching Fire. There were 50 hair stylists from around the world (including myself) and 300 extras. The best of the best were invited to style.
QFTD: Your work was so impressive after being on the set for two days that you were invited back for another day to style hair. What was this experience like? What has it done for your career and confidence?
Tracey: On The Hunger Games set, some of the hairstyles had been predetermined for some of the extras, but with others, we were able to style, be creative and free. My extra had long, thick, wavy hair––almost down to her butt. I was able to style her hair the way that I wanted to. Since my mentor, Carol Morrow, taught me how to do the signature Paul Mitchel angel braid, that is what I did. I thought that the angel braid with Zulu knots on this extra’s crown would look killer. My style was a hit with everyone. Everybody just stopped and stared and told me how wonderful it looked. It was at that point that I was invited back for the third day to work on some of the main cast. When I looked on the casting call list, I noticed that I was one of ten stylists called back to work on the cast. I felt so amazing at that time. I just thought to myself––I worked all of my life to get to this point. My confidence level was through the roof. I am confident that I will be able to repeat stellar work like I did on the set of Hunger Games: Catching Fire and that you can help me capture the audience that will take my career to the next level.
QFTD: I will do my best, Tracey. What are your plans for the future? What are some things we can expect to see from you?
Tracey: I was in my zone when I worked on the set of Catching Fire. I loved the ability to be free and creative. I enjoyed the fast pace on set. I will continue to work on movie sets as a stylist. I don’t necessarily want to confine my skills and ability behind a chair. I am a free spirit, and my work embodies that free spirit creativity. I want to show it off to the world. Additionally, I have goals outside of the beauty industry. My mother always worked with troubled youth. In my mother’s honor, I would like to mentor youth with drug and alcohol addiction and train them how to refrain from using.