Chopping It Up

Chopping It Up with Tym Wallace

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If you’ve been paying any attention to the red carpets lately, you’ve seen Tym Wallace’s work. He created the effortlessly chic bobs Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer rocked on the Oscar night, and he created Zendaya’s fierce pixie that we were all lusting over last year. The list of stunners who’ve been getting their hair #tossedbytym is impressive and includes stars such as Kelly Rowland, Serena Williams, and Gabrielle Union.

Keep reading to get to know the man behind our favorite styles — Tym Wallace!

The Cut Life: Why hairstyling? What were the driving forces behind you deciding to pursue this specific industry?

Tym Wallace: Hairstyling was not my choice, honestly. I wanted to be an attorney. My parents thought it was something I should do being that I have always been intrigued by it, but never to the point where I thought it was something I wanted to do. So my parents actually said: “Look you’re a year out a high school.” And at this point, I knew college was not something wanted to do and that schooling period was not for me.

So they said: “You have to do something. You should go to hair school. You’ve always been fascinated by it.” I was like: “No, I’m not going to hair school!” They told me I had to do something so I went to a school and ended up enrolling. The first day I fell in love and knew that was wanted to do.

Tym Wallace

TCL: It seems like your parents were a big portion of your success but were there any other things that attributed to you becoming such a successful hairstylist?

TW: What’s funny is that [my parents] were not. They wanted me to go to hair school, but I come from a very traditional upbringing, so it was go to school, get some work, learn some type of trade, work full time and make ends meet. In hair, school is where I was introduced to the entertainment side of hair, the celebrity styling. It was an instructor that actually stopped me one evening as I was wrapping up and he said [he] could really see me in Hollywood.

I had the look, the personality, and [was] mastering the skills. I asked: “Well what do you mean?” And he told me that was the journey and I had to figure that part out. So I started paying attention to celebrities that I liked and found out who did their hair, how they got their start and started patterning my career after that.

My parents did not necessarily support me in terms of going in that direction. They wanted me to work in a salon, and I said: “No, this is what I’m supposed to do.” It was really my faith that pushed me to go in this direction. It’s been God. I give all credit to Him.

TCL: With you cultivating your style and forging your path this way, do you have a philosophy you apply towards your work?

TW: Absolutely. Effortless. That is my aesthetic. Effortless hair. I don’t want it to be too conformed. I like hair to be touchable, flowing. A lot of movement. Anything effortless I am here for.

Taraji rocking one of Tym’s effortless styles.

TCL: I feel the same way! So you’re the master behind some of the hottest hairstyles we’ve seen different celebrities rock like Zendaya, Skai Jackson, Brandy and of course, Ms. Taraji P. Henson. What has your experience been like working with such powerhouse women?

TM: It has been amazing. I tell anybody that wants to work with celebrities that I treat my everyday woman like a celebrity. So when I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a real celebrity, I had the confidence because my clients are my celebrities. I knew what I was doing, and it just had to be the right timing for me to get a celebrity. Once I got it, it was just like doing my job. It’s been working with different personalities, different stories of how they got to where they are, why they’re where they are. It’s been an amazing experience.

Tym’s reference photo of Diahann Carroll — his inspo for Taraji’s Oscar look.

TCL: Going off of the stories you’re talking about and creating these looks that are effortless for women, are there elements you look to in order remain inspired?

TW: Yes. I am one inspired by my culture or our culture rather. We’ve had some amazing references. Diahann Carroll, she was my reference for the Oscars this year. Diana Ross, Angela Davis… I find inspiration from a lot of women in our culture, but I’m also inspired by fashion. The fashion world is inspired by our culture. Everything is inspired by our culture when you really break it out. So in the fashion world, my aesthetic is fashion meets

Everything is inspired by our culture when you really break it out. So in the fashion world, my aesthetic is fashion meets celebrity.  Also, the types of events that are going on. The mood of the client that can help how I move around with their hairstyle.

TCL: Every stylist has their tools and products that they tend to reach to. What are your three must-have tools and products to keep your looks together?

TW: Three must-have tools: My FHI Flat Iron. Bone Comb. Hair Shears. I feel like with these three tools I can do anything. I don’t necessarily need a blow dryer because hair can air dry. As long as I have a flat iron I can pinch braid, I can curl, and create textured waves. Plus, a comb and a good hair cut? I am good to go. [As far as] styling products, give me a hair spray, edge control or pomade because I swear by the Paul Mitchell pomade and a sealant or leave-in conditioner.

Tym and the rest of Taraji’s glam squad on Oscar night.

TCL: What’s been your biggest career highlight thus far?

TW: It has been this past Oscars. The Oscars were the biggest highlight of my career. I’ve always dreamed of it. That’s the biggest red carpet ever so to be part of the Oscars and not only be blessed to do it for my first year but to have two of the top actresses out — I’m still on a high from it.

TCL: Well you killed it, so I’m not surprised. What has been the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

TW: Stay true to who you are. Stay true to your aesthetic. Do not compare yourself to any of the other artists. We are all artists, and we all have our niche, and whatever that niche is stay true to that. You’ll accomplish more in your lane than when you’re trying to appeal to others.


TCL: I think that’s a thing a lot of people struggle with, so I’m sure hearing that from someone like yourself is incredibly helpful.

TW: Absolutely. I’m just getting in a comfortable place with myself. I’ve always known my zone, but I’m coming to appreciate it. It’s very simple. We are at a time where social media has become such a large influence so working with celebs and then being influenced by social media, it has affected art. I believe I’m one of the artists who hit the cusp of not being what’s considered a social media artist.

I studied, cried, played and did all types of things to get through this journey but the greats that were before me, I knew them before Facebook and Instagram became popular. I knew the Oscar James, the Orlando Peters, the Sam McKnights and the Paolo Guidos and Chuckie Amoses and all the artists who have paved the way. These are people I have patterned my career after.

I don’t do this for the accolades; I do it because it is what I love doing. At the same time, social media has tainted the business, and the value of it is going down because you have [hair] artists who have even more followers than the talent. I think Instagram has depreciated art. Instagram doesn’t appreciate art; it appreciates trend. And the trends are ghetto. Everyone is wearing the same look; everybody wants to look like everyone else.

One person jumps on the wave, and it becomes a thing. Like frontals. If you don’t need a frontal don’t wear it. If you’re going to wear it make sure it looks good. I can clock every wig you put out there, but everyone thinks it looks good because this one person put it out there. So you can’t allow this all to dictate your art and your skill and what you are here to do. I’m just getting to a point where it’s not affecting me anymore. I don’t mind my lane, and I stay true to my lane. I’ve found staying true to my lane is paying off.

TCL: People will love hearing this. Gems are being dropped. The last question is just for fun: What is your theme song?

TW: Right now I am obsessed with Bad & Boujee. I’m bad and boujee.  I’m from the Southside of Chicago but I know how to cut it off, or I can go big. I’m still and educated Black man, but that song, when I hear I’m just like this is it. This is who I am.

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