Sitting in the audience waiting for the red curtain to lift and the dancers from Alvin Ailey School of Dance to come out, I started to wonder why I haven’t #nerdstalked a hair stylist behind that big red curtain! Then I thought about it during intermission… then again when they were taking a bow. When I got home, I started doing research on the very best in the business of stage.
The name Daniel Koye kept popping up everywhere! So, I let the stalking begin! Turns out Daniel Koye may most often be found backstage doing hair at Broadway hit shows such as Chicago , Mary Poppins , Jersey Boys , and Book Of Mormon but he is no stranger to celebrities either. Koye’s clients include Jeff Goldblum, Lucy Lui, and star of Project Runway , Heidi Klum. Nerd stalking Koye was no easy task because he is currently flipping out wigs for the successful show “Trip To Bountiful” starring Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Daniel, I’m over the moon about talking with you because I love the stage! I tell everyone, season tickets to shows are like THE BEST gift for me! So naturally I get fixated on the hair in the shows. How did you take your craft into Broadway?
My mother was a hairstylist, so I grew up with a salon in the basement. I would play with her wig combs. As a natural step I then became a female Illusionist (drag queen). So I started doing my own hair. I went to beauty school as I did drag at night.
When I graduated, I worked in a mom and pop shop for a very little bit. I then worked for Lancome, where I met a great friend who introduced me to a fellow hairstylist. A couple weeks later he gave me a call and said that he wanted to see if I would come in and sub for him on the a show he was working on. I said sure.
I went to the theater and I was to learn the hair track for Lea Michelle in Spring Awakening. (yep, I had no clue who she was and this was before Glee happened) That was my very first Broadway show. What a thrill to walk thru the stage door of a theater I went to see shows in every year for me birthday. While backstage I remember walking around during the show and looking up and just feeling a “I’m home” and that was it. From there Broadway was my home.
That is so cool. Your memory box must have some pretty interesting stage stories!
It’s funny that these are my life memories. It makes me laugh. Working on Follies I was at my station and Bernadette Peters walks in her robe and her AMAZING curly hair. Comes up to me and says “So, I hear you have your own hair product line.” from that point on we would have meetings about hair and creating a hair product just for her. (and yes, she named it) DKOYE the smoothing cream.
After the show closed I was doing the hair for Leap of Faith for the TONY awards, I was waiting outside for the other hairstylists to come, and there Bernadette Peters with all her clips holding up her hair walks out to her car with her fans there We started walking in and she yells my name, and gave me a hug, and says “DKOYE” and points to her hair. (JUST AMAZING!!!)
OMG! Bernadette Peters is legendary! Clients actually do bring in photos of her and say they want her hair. Her curls are gorgeous. I’m also a huge fan of Downton Abbey and I know you worked with Dan Stevens. What was that like?
When I worked on The Heiress, yes I had the pleasure of doing Dan Stevens. He is SUCH a great guy! (we’re the same age) We would have to do his blonde 2 times a month. He would sit on my Balance ball chair and I would do his highlights.
Between shows, we would just carry on as people would walk by and make fun of him. I would have the local trashy gay magazine and he would read it and we would learn what’s new in the gay night club scene in NY. To this day he still emails me to fill him in on the trashy magazines.
From my #nerdstalkerization I learned from a friend of a friend of a friend, you hooked up the Queen herself, Carol Channing. True?
Yes. I was doing hair and make-up for Carol Channing.. after I finished her hair I then did her make-up. I got to do her lips! She is known for having no lip peaks, like a unia-lip. She says “Now, Danny remember I like my lips……… Oh, you know, your Gaaaay.” LOL. I DIED!!
That’s hysterical & fun! Well, I’m sure you have had challenges too. Tell me about that…
Well, its not the styles. With Broadway most shows are period 1920’s, 1940’s, or like the current show “the Trip to Bountiful” its 1953. So the real difficult part that I had was roller sets and perms. Know the different period sets is key. UGH! In beauty school I would just dread them and now that’s what I do 6 days some times 7 days a week. So if this is something you want to do, KNOW your SETS!
Every night you have to put the same roller in the same spot every time. Continuity is key. If the Actor feels it’s off then all your styling you did will be destroyed. This will also help you when you are called to work on set of a period movie. Learning how to quickly recreate the same looks with actors hair will keep you busy and keep you employed.
There’s Heidi Klum “the Supermodel” … Heidi Klum “star of Project Runway” … & then there’s Heidi Klum “Halloween costume lover”. I know you had a pretty terrific Halloween experience with her.
I made Heidi’s Halloween hair when she was the robot. We had several fittings to create the style she wanted. Then the day of her super duper Halloween party I went to her hotel room (when she was still with Seal) and helped Seal with his make-up and when Heidi was done with her make-up I put the wig on her.
Mind you, I had been in costume all day! (I took as my guest Eve Plumb aka Jan Brady from the Brady Bunch) As they put on there costumes she says “You’re coming with us right?” Of course, I said “yes!” Then I told her “I have to move my car I parked here.” She said, “Leave it here and you’ll come in our car.” Yup, I drove to the famous Heidi Klum Halloween bash with her and Seal.
Thinking that once I got there I was gonna go find Eve and be on my own. Heidi and Seal had me with them all night. What a CRAZY! CRAZY! Night. Had the best time!!
When the curtain goes down, what do you do off-stage?
Sleep!…….. Working 6 days a week with only Mondays off is a killer. So I try to rest. But most of the time I am working on other productions that I am designing. Teaching at performing arts Highschools, and really working on my hair product line. Doing product knowledge classes for DKOYE the product.
Okay busy-bee! LOL. I’m sure you’ve got some sketched out future plans that you can share with us?
I do have a couple more Broadway shows and a couple movies that are coming up. I sponsor all the hair product and wigs for Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids yearly benefit Broadway Bares this years theme is United Strips of America. I coordinate 35-40 volunteer hair stylists to create hair for over 160 dancers, performers and celebrities that come and perform to raise money for HIV and Aids.
That’s so great! That is really what our jobs are about…giving back! Any advice or words of wisdom for #hairnerds who want to follow in your footsteps?
HAVE A SOUND HOME LIFE!!!! Working so much and focusing on your career will in the end have some other part of your life lack. I was told by a hair supervisor that re-sparked my love for theater. “It’s not about how great of a hair stylist you are, It’s about your personality and your ability to work in a team.”
That changed my life. This is not brain surgery. We do hair. We make people feel amazing (or in my case with Jessica Chastine making her look “plain”) We (hair stylists) need to create a fun loving uplifting environment. That’s what keeps me working.
Daniel Koye is currently working on the show “Trip To Bountiful” and can be reached via his website:
Interested in learning the art of Broadway Styling? Take Daniel’s new Broadway Magic Seminar !