As if being a hairdresser isn’t challenging enough! On top of typical stylist anxieties, American Idol head hairstylist Lynn Tully has to contend with the frenetic energy of working on a live set along with contestants’ constant nerves.
“We are basically working with kids dealing with overnight celeb status,” explains Tully. “And since they’re typically nervous, we try to make the hair room a ‘safe’, quiet place where they can ‘zen’ for a bit. Even though we never discuss their performances, they feel comfortable letting out their fears, anxieties and adventures, and it’s our job to listen and encourage them to enjoy the process.”
And as is the case on any film or TV set, Idol had a practical joker in its wings. “I remember when ‘Big Mike’ [Michael Lynche] came into the hair room and said he wanted violet hair like Siobhan was sporting one night,” laughs Tully. “So I applied a glue-in extension onto his head and curled it for him, thinking that he’d only be wearing it backstage as a joke. But he surprised everyone by going on stage with it! Luckily, everybody—including the judges—found it funny.”
Yet along with the laughter comes the inevitable weekly sorrow. Tully recalls that the night after Big Mike flaunted his purple-hued hair, she had to say good-bye to contestant Didi Benami. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to miss all of her hugs,’” says Tully. “It’s hard to see contestants leave the nest. But it’s all part of the journey, and I know that this is just the beginning for them.”
Photo credits on following pages: Lynn: Michael Becker; Michael and Tim: Jason Merritt; Lee and Katie: Michael Tran/FilmMagic; Crystal, Casey, Siobhan, Aaron, Andrew: F Micelotta/American Idol, all Getty Images Entertainment