By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Over the years, Atlanta reality show scene has featured R&B divas, preachers' wives, doctors and now... hair salon owners, courtesy of WE-TV.
Five women are the main stars on the show - four salon owners with decades of experience in the hair business and one who hopes to have her own place down the road. Their show "Cutting It: In the ATL" debuts Thursday night, May 21 after "Braxton Family Values" at 10 p.m.
Not surprisingly, they were cast for maximum dramatics and vibrant Type A personalities. I spoke with all of them at a screening party at Twelve at Atlantic Station last week. They are not all buddy buddy, of course.
Beautii Joseph, owner of Spoiled Opulence Salon, downtown Atlanta.
Show nickname: "Countess of Class."
Background: Formerly homeless, this single mom appeared on a 2012 A&E reality show "Monsters in Law," in which her hatred of her brother in law ran deep. (Her sister is still with the guy, much to Beautii's chagrin.)
The production company knew her salon background. She provided names they could cast. Near the end of casting, she saw Maja's billboards about $50 weaves and that's how Maja ended up on the show. (More about her later.)
"I'm more quality than quantity," Beautii said, compared to Maja. "I'd rather work smarter than harder. We can make the same amount of money." She's been in the hair business for 25 years.
Drama? Of course! "They will see a whole lot of cattiness and among women, they might feel like we can't get along but once we see the whole concept of the show, they'll understand."
Her hopes for the show: "We are in the same business. How can we grow together and empower each other and empower other people to see that they can do what we do?"
Dedra Allen, owner J'Doah Salon , Midtown Atlanta
Nickname: “The Commander-in-Chic”
No filter: In the first episode, this North Carolina native clashes with many of the other ladies. "I feel like I was in the company of people who took me back to my 20s," she said. "You have to be careful with the company you keep." Unfortunately, she said she's prone to responding to others instead of holding back. "I cannot keep it in."
That's great for TV, not necessarily for her psyche. "We all have the same passion for doing hair. I thought that would bridge us together."
LaKenya Morris, beauty stylist
Better home: She used to work for Beautii but now works under Dedre, who she feels is more supportive of her goals to eventually own a salon herself.
"Dedra," she said, "wants to see me grow."
Mushiya Tshikuka, owner The Damn Salon, Sandy Springs, been in the business 18 years
Nickname: "The Natural Boss"
Philosophy: "Life is what you make it. You can make it a con or you can make it a pro. Everything good comes from a little bit of roughness."
Her hair: "My hair is in better shape than most because I don't heat it or perm it. I just love big curly hair."
Breaking the mold: "A lot of people see beautiful women as light skinned with straight hair. I'm from the Congo. I believe I'm beautiful with dark skin and curly hair."
How she takes the drama: "Women in real life argue, too. It's how you handle things. I don't take bull**** seriously. I'm very honest. I will check people if they insult me. But I have a thick skin. Thick as a building!"
Maya M. Sly, owner Walk-In Weaves, four locations in metro Atlanta
Nickname: "Minister of Weaves"
Bravo connection: She was approached to be part of "Married to Medicine" since she is the ex-wife of a physician. She was also considered for "Real Housewives of Atlanta" during season five. "It just wasn't a good fit for what I wanted to showcase," she said. "If I had been on 'Housewives,' they would have followed my divorce. It's hard enough to do a divorce without having to go through it publicly."
Why this show: She found this show more appealing because it was about her business. She was cool with the fact some of the other women were deeply offended by her $50 weave concept. Publicity is publicity in her mind. She proudly wants to be the McDonald's or Wal-Mart of weaves. "I'm looking to franchise my stores in Wal-Mart," she said. "I'm the low-cost leader." So even if the show fails, she said she will continue to hustle. "When the cameras stop rolling," she said, "I still have bills to pay."
Thick skin, too: "I try to put up with the tongue lashing. I try to be the voice of reason."
Her business goal: Make people feel good about themselves on a budget while providing good customer service. And she isn't ashamed to market herself - including billboards. She said she has done 80,000 weaves in four years and has her own hair line. And she happens to sell real estate, too.
"Cutting It: In the ATL," WE-TV, 10 p.m. debuting Thursday, May 21, 2015