When most people look at Kerry Washington, they think about Olivia Pope — the fictional, Princeton-bred crisis manager she's played on Scandal for six seasons. And that's the problem. "Olivia Pope and Kerry Washington are totally separate," Washington's hairstylist, Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, tells Refinery29. "Olivia is more clean. Kerry is fun."
If anyone would know, it'd be Sturdivant-Drew. She's worked with Washington for 14 years, and considers her a close companion. Glam sessions, which can take all day and even be a little boring at times, are more like a celebration than a chore to them. "We're always listening to music when she's in the chair," she says. "I call her the hairstylist, and she calls me the DJ. She's a great dancer. Especially when we go to her house or a hotel to get her ready. She's the best."
Styling sessions might be a blast, but don't get it twisted: Sturdivant-Drew's serious about her business —especially when it comes to caring for Washington's natural curls. Read more about their rock-solid relationship, ahead.
Why Kerry Is Rocking Her Natural Curls
"Her hair is very curly," says Sturdivant-Drew."It's not tight or a spiral, it's more of an S. We started straightening it a lot, but I said that my goal was to keep it healthy. I wanted to go back to her natural texture, because I like the curl pattern of it, and she agreed. We started to braid it, leave it, and let the texture come back into the hair, which is where she's at today after having her two kids."
How She Gets Her Spirals So Full
"There are little tricks that you can do with natural hair to prevent shrinkage," Sturdivant-Drew says. "For this style [above], to get it big, all I did was take my Dyson Supersonic with the comb attachment, and blew it on cold. Hot would make it straight. I lifted the roots up to expand it and make it bigger.
Why Kerry Doesn't Do Weaves
"I haven't given Kerry a weave in over 10 years," says Sturdivant-Drew. "Do I do clip-ins? Yes. When you see her straight, long, short, or with color — those are clip-ins. I do play around with wigs, but I haven't given her a weave in a long time. I'm all about the look being natural."
Why Olivia Pope Wears Her Natural Hair, Too
"I don't style [Kerry's] hair for Scandal, but I love the fact that she's wearing her natural hair on TV," says Sturdivant-Drew. "For Kerry, wearing it on the show and on the red carpet at the Emmys... everybody was blown away.
"She touches so many people, and so it showed people that they can do it, too. I have a lot of clients who are lawyers who still refuse to wear their natural hair to work. Then I have those [who] aren't afraid to wear it anymore because they see that people are wearing it today, and it's okay."
How Kerry's Look Has Evolved
"[Kerry's] not as conservative as Olivia Pope. She's not afraid of fashion and she's not afraid to change her hair," says Sturdivant-Drew. "Olivia Pope has every hair in place. Kerry — we just let it be free and let the hair do what it wants. She doesn't want to be Olivia Pope when it comes to styling.
"Kerry's look has definitely evolved since I met her. It has gotten edgier. She goes for the risk. Some celebrities stay with that long, straight, middle-parted hair — not her.
Why They Always Go For The Bold
"One of my favorite looks is [from] the Met Gala in 2016, with deep purple hair," says Sturdivant-Drew. "We were like, 'This is the time to play because we'll never have this chance at an awards show.' We went for it with the purple. And no, we didn't dye her hair. I used extensions from my line, TSD Hair. I buy virgin hair and color it myself."
Where They Draw Inspiration
"[Kerry] is involved in the creative process," says Sturdivant-Drew. "Before I get there, I say what I think she should do. She'll agree, or we'll sit down and look at pictures. I like the fact that she's in on it because I want all of my clients to be comfortable and feel confident.
"There are times when she'll be like, 'I don't know if I can wear this.' Sometimes she's nervous, but then she actually ends up loving it. I've been working with her for so long, and we've improved our process throughout the years. Every single glam day isn't perfect, but it's been pretty close."