Passion is born, then inspired. John McCormick’s mother would tell the tale that her son picked up a brush before he could raise a fork. Trained in New York for hairstyling and make up, John has styled clients from across the country, working in salons from New York City and San Francisco before making his home in Los Angeles. Over the year’s he’s received advanced training from major style icons such as Clairol, Wella and Zotos. John studied fashion at Brooks College, is a former lifestyle columnist for several magazines in New York and currently serves on the Board of Directors of NEO Ensemble Theatre in Hollywood.
John’s mantra is “If the eyes are the window to the soul, then hair is the doorway to your personality”. When not behind his chair, John can be found around Hollywood styling for television, film and special events. He’s currently styling hair on the #1 Daytime show “The Young and the Restless” and has had the pleasure of styling for various celebrities
How many times have you read an interview or sat in a class and thought…”Ummmm, I want to live your life.. give me your job!!” . Yeah… us too! In this series, we will be asking some of our favorite hair heroes how to get where they are in the industry. First up, John McCormick who is currently a stylist on the daytime drama, The Young and the Restless.
What is the mindset you have that helped you get to where you are?
It’s kind of “The Secret” meets Cher screaming “Snap out of it!”. I’m a big believer in seeing what you want in your future, but also staying grounded in a bit of reality.
What steps would someone take if they wanted to get their foot in the door, but didn’t know how/where to start?
Your success in any business is based on who knows that you exist. It’s no different in the beauty industries. You must get yourself out there. You have to mix, mingle and produce in a professional, friendly manner. And you must be genuine. Today, the internet has made visibility and networking easier. But again, even reaching out on the internet you must be engaging, effective and authentic.
Did you see yourself headed in this direction when you first graduated school?
Not really. I missed alot of high school because I was doing modeling and commercials in New York City. I was also a theatre nerd when I was in high school. Then I studied fashion at Brooks College in Long Beach, Ca and enrolled in beauty school only after I finished my studies at Brooks. Then I studied at the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts…so it’s was an overload of creative juices that needed time to simmer. Ironically, I did an internship in the wardrobe department of Y&R while in college…strange how the universe can come full circle.
What was the biggest risk you took when first entering the industry?
I moved to New York City and took a job in a salon. I hit the ground running! The best part was I was young and carefree, no one could tell me no. That’s not to say anyone can today, but I’m more measured in my adventurous nature today.
Who/what was your hairspiration when you were first starting out?
There was no other name or image that had more influence in my desire to be a hairstylist than Vidal Sassoon. I was a product of that time and you couldn’t turn around without seeing his work or product line. It really was huge. The interesting part is that I come from a business mindset, so while his impact creatively was amazing, he really was the Donald Trump of hair to me. He had his name on a bottle of shampoo! That was inspirational to me!
John, you are a hairstylist on the set of The Young and The Restless…. How amazing!
Thanks..but to be clear, I am a small part of an amazing team of hair and make up artists at Y&R and I pinch myself everyday at this opportunity.
What were the steps you took to score such an amazing gig? How did you hear about the availability of a position on set, and how does a stylist apply for a position like this?
Well, that’s different for everyone, but it goes back to the basics of relationships. Because a majority of set work is union, getting in the door is challenging. My story isn’t very different from most, I had a friend, Emmy winning makeup artist, Keith Crary, who opened a door for me. The difference for me is I was ready to step thru that door and produce. It happened at a time in my life when I was looking to make changes. A few years back I was lucky enough to see the galleys of Leeza Gibbons new book “Take Two” before it went to print. As the Universe would have it, I was at a crossroads in my professional life. I knew I didn’t want to be behind a chair in a salon any longer, it was time for my “Take Two”!
For me it was about my love for film and television. I wanted to be part of a crew that makes the magic happen. When I made the decision to crossover to set work I looked at my network of friends and literally asked for a favor. That turned into Keith calling the head of the Department at “Days of Our Lives”. A month later I got a call to come to work. It’s that simple and that complicated all at the same time.
Before I stepped foot on the set of “Days”, I called my friend George Guzman, the head of the Hair Department at the “Young and the Restless” for a few pointers. Being the angel that he his, he invited me over to the set that very afternoon to shadow the stylists. I was able to hit the ground running thanks to his kindness. Fortunately, that also turned into my opportunity to meet Patti Denney, the Department Head at Y&R. She and George have been kind enough to continue calling me to work on the show.
Please tell us a little bit about your background with hair, prior to your relationship with The Young and The Restless ?
I’ve worked in salons in New York, San Francisco and LA. I’ve freelanced for many years too, doing private clients and photo shoots for actors, models and celebrities. And I still have aspirations of being a platform artist too…how’s that for putting it out to the Universe!
Stylist’s who are fresh out of school, and just getting there license often have high hopes for really amazing things, what kind of advice would you give to these stylists to help them reach there ultimate goal?
Do everything. Don’t specialize. That drives me crazy. Maintaining a client base in today’s world means you have to service them. Handing your client off to someone else to color or cut them is counterintuitive to me. Keep that client to yourself! You have to have the skills to do it all. If you need help in one area, get it! One thing I’m certain of is that most hairdressers LOVE to help each other learn.
What do you feel is essential to making dreams a reality?
In this business, I’ve always believed it comes down to personality. Creativity is a strong second. What we do can be taught, but without personality and creativity, it’s just another 9 to 5 gig that makes you work Saturdays.
RedCarpetStylist.com is your website, what is your absolute favorite red carpet look ever created?
Well, that changes with the wind. I love the whole spectacle of a red carpet. It’s a mash up of creativity from hair, makeup, fashion and chutzpa. It takes a special woman to carry off these looks. So many women get in a rut of the day to day. Imagine the self confidence it takes to step on a carpet and be photographed and critiqued worldwide. That said, I love to see glamour! Halle Barry, Carlize Theron and Angelina Jolie bring it. My artsy side loves to be surprised by Gaga too!
What are the three must haves that you can’t replace in your kit? Thing’s you can’t live without….
Mints, my Bio Ionic Blowdry brushes and a rat tail comb. But I have to add a fourth because anyone who knows me knows I’m addicted to sample size products. I am swag bag junkie, but in the world of mobile styling they can save my life because I can bring a variety of products to set! It’s a practical obsession!
You had a life in fashion and performance prior to your relationship with hair. What made you decide to come to the wonderful world of hair?
As a teen I got involved in modeling and acting. It opened a whole world of fashion and the performing arts to me. When I think about it, working on a client is very much a performance. You need to be prepared, deliver and improv every single minute. Styling hair was definitely an additional way to express myself and work with people. Two things I love to this day!