Bryce Scarlett: An Interview With Hair Artist for the StarsLEFAIR
Writer Madeline Rosene @madelinerosene
Bryce Scarlett, extroverted Gemini and hair artist for some of Hollywood’s most elite celebrities including Natalie Portman, Margot Robbie, Lily Aldridge, and Hailey Baldwin has had a busy year. Having just moved back to Los Angeles, while keeping his apartment in the West Village in New York City, Bryce says, “It doesn’t really feel real yet,” knowing that he has to leave again shortly for another 13 day jaunt to Europe. This beachy blonde is always on the move, jetting from coast to coast sporting black Nike sweats mixed with some delicate gold chains. You might remember Bryce Scarlett from our article in LEFAIR Magazine’s premiere issue, in which we interviewed him with his friend, collaborator, and makeup artist extraordinaire, Quinn Murphy. It’s been over two years since our last conversation and Bryce says, “There’s been a lot of growth” in his career. Now a brand ambassador for Morrocanoil, flying all over the world working with celebrities on their press tours, he’s signed so many celebrity NDAs that he can’t keep track.
MR: Did you accomplish anything in particular this year that you feel especially proud of?
BS: Having a relationship with a brand like Morroccanoil is a huge achievement and privilege. They’ve given me a platform to speak on on behalf of a brand that is a pleasure to be associated with. It’s still a privately owned company run by women and owner and founder Carmen Tal is serious about empowering women, both within the company and outside of the company. It’s great to be involved with a company that is open minded and has a family atmosphere.
MR: Were there any other goals that you’ve achieved?
BS: I worked on the cover of the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue last year. That was with Natalie Portman. I had always wanted to do that. I did a few foreign Vogue covers with Gigi Hadid. Enrique Badulescu shot two of them
MR: What are your goals for the future?
BS: I think right now my goals for the future would just be more of the same. I’m really happy with the place I’m in right now and I’d love to keep it going. I wouldn’t mind spending little less time in planes and being in my own bed more often. I’m actively looking to manage a work life balance, as are most people.
MR: What would be your advice to a new hair stylist who is looking to work in editorials like yourself?
BS: I would say, the easiest start you can give yourself is moving to either New York City or Los Angeles. Go and assist. You have to take that financial sacrifice of working for not a lot of money and be dedicated to someone you respect and want to learn from. That is how doors open — making connections, building those relationships and earning people’s trust.
MR: What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you?
BS: I’ve learned a lot of things through osmosis, not necessarily quotes from people. Learning to read a room is invaluable in any industry. Take the temperature of a room and learn how to present yourself in it. That’s 60% of that battle in our industry. I can’t express that enough. So much of what we do is based on personality. You learn to read a room by trial and error. I think I have always been good at it. I’ve relied on my instincts. When it comes to celebrities and PR, people are often on edge. My job is to make people feel comfortable. The talent is always under a lot of pressure. They need to know you will make them look good but also that they can trust you. You are not adding any stress or pressure. You are a comforting presence. Knowing your place and when it’s important to interject is always a struggle. It’s a dance. People expect a certain level of honesty. There’s a fine line between being brutally honest and letting someone know if I’m not completely in love with something.
MR: Do you have a mentor?
BS: Yes, Tracey Cunningham is a major mentor to me. She took me under her wing right away. She taught me so much and gave me so much opportunity. Mentorship is so important. I think people are lucky who find a mentor. You are lucky if you find someone who you want to emulate. There is a fine line between someone who is a mentor and seeing their path and also seeing outside that box and finding your own path. I think the climate we live in with social media and the way the industry has shifted, it is important to not feel boxed in to one road to success. There are so many ways to succeed and you have to find what works for you and be confident in your strengths and not be too insecure to admit your weaknesses. I try really hard to highlight my strengths and I am very quick to outsource things that I feel someone else is better suited for. I think there is a lack of that outsourcing. A lot of people think they can do everything better than everyone. I hope that people trust me more because they know I am not going to let my ego get in the way of them receiving the best outcome they can receive.
MR: How does travel play a role in your life?
BS: This year alone, I did a ton of travel while working with Margot Robbie. I got to travel with a great team — stylist, Kate Young, and makeup artist, Patti Dubroff. We stopped in multiple cities for press trips, starting in Toronto for Toronto Film Festival. That was the kickoff for I Tonya. We went to Sydney, Paris, London, Berlin. We went a handful of other film festivals — The Hamptons Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival… It was a highlight of my career — no question. Margot is such a generous and willing collaborator. She is very open and trusting with everything. She lets artists like me do our jobs and allows us to have a lot of creative input.
When it comes to travel, I don’t stay places very long. Often, the team is in a city for 48 hours. There is always the challenge of trying to figure out if you’re going to use your precious free time to sleep or go to a museum. Often I use the time to sleep and I am in such a special place but it’s important for me to challenge myself and go out while I’m on these trips. I’m always very excited to go somewhere I haven’t been before. I feel like I am so lucky to be able to travel for work. It’s such a gift. I like to take a Diptyque candle, the one that smells like a campfire, fou de bois, wherever I go. That way, whatever hotel room I am in, it will smell like home. I have a bag that has family photos that I always have. I take a million skincare products wherever I travel. I am a skincare junkie. I just started using the Joanna Vargas exfoliating mask. I really like Joanna Vargas, Epicuran, and Lucerne. I just started using Obagi. I have to have the right skincare products with me or I freak out. Those are the things that make me feel in control. I wish I could say I packed light but I don’t. I have to have options. I get stressed out if I don’t have a solid selection of clothes. Of course, if I don’t bring enough, I just end up shopping.
MR: Was this your first time working with an Oscars contendant?
BS: It was kind of my first time working with an oscar contendant. I worked with Natalie Portman for an entire award season but she was too pregnant to attend the actual Oscars. I had worked with people going to the Oscars but never an Oscars contendant. I gave Margot a haircut the night before the Oscars. I did it at like one in the morning. I was so thrilled that she wanted to do that. To give someone a fresh new look for the Oscars — the pressure was on for sure.
MR: Where are some of your favorite places that you have been?
BS: The Amalfi coast is my favorite place. Also, the trip I took to Kuwaii was magical. Positano, Capri and Kuwaii are my top three destinations. I love Paris, of course. It’s an amazing place to go for work. But it’s not where I feel the most relaxed. I’m dying to go to Cairo. I want to go to Egypt so badly. I want to do a riverboat down the Nile. I also want to go to Africa on safari.
Years ago when I shot Game of War commercials with Kate Upton, one of the most amazing places we went for a location shoot was where Slovenia touches the Austrian Alps. We shot in this part of Slovenia and Austria and it literally looked like that scene from The Sound of Music. It had snowed a little bit and there were baby lambs running around.
Some of the best times I have traveling are when I really get to spend time in the city, like when I
went to Venice and went to a really formal dinner with a bunch of people. Quinn Murphy was there. Then we walked around Venice all night. Going to the Chanel show in Paris at the Grand Palais. They basically built the Titanic inside the Grand Palais. It was just this huge fake steamliner that served as a decoration
MR: What are some challenges you face in this highly competitive industry?
BS: I recently had to take a large chunk of time off of work for family matters. In our industry, everything moves so quickly. It moves so fast that you can feel yourself getting left behind. People are afraid to take a step back. The wheels keep rolling whether you’re in the car or not. That is always a challenge and it’s something I’m constantly struggling with in both negative and positive ways. I’m a workaholic. There’s no denying it, but I also have a lot of aspirations for my personal life. I think balance is the key to happiness but I think it’s also one of the hardest things to achieve. I think we have to sometimes lower our expectations of balance. Some people spend their entire lives chasing balance but I think you have to learn to rejoice in the different parts of your life when they’re excelling and not let another part of your life in which you’re not excelling bring you down from that. Nothing is ever truly going to be easy (it just looks like it is on social media).
MR: Do you have any advice for people in this age of social media, FOMO, and tech stress?
BS: Appreciate where you are when you’re there. We often appreciate traveling and achieving our goals in retrospect. I’ve learned to allow myself to be as present as possible during moments of achievement. But usually it’s not until I get on a plane five days later that I think, “Oh, that went really well. I’m really happy with that.”