Who’s the hottest hairstylist in the land? We’d have to argue that Motions Global Ambassador Ursula Stephen is leading the pack. If you don’t recognize the name, you’ve definitely seen her work (try Rihanna in her iconic “Umbrella” video). When Stephen isn’t globetrotting, she’s spreading the word about Motions, teaching stylists and consumers her cutting edge techniques. We were thrilled to catch up with her a few days before her hot ticket birthday bash at NYC’s Boudoir on November 8, sponsored by Motions.
Editor’s Note: Ursula’s birthday party was nothing short of fabulous! The Ebony Style team was in attendance along with Taraji P. Henson, Toccarra and... yep, you guessed: Rihanna!
EBONY.com: First off, happy belated birthday! What do you have up your sleeve this year?
Ursula Stephen: The last party was really good, but this time I want to change the focus, make it a bit more lounge-like and relaxed. I’d love for everyone to just hang out together, because with our schedules, we never get to see each other. I don’t want to try to out do myself; I just want to try to do well! But I’m still looking for my birthday shoes, so please help me! [laughs] But I truly am excited about my party.
EBONY.com: What type of hairstyle do you suggest for a big night on the town?
US: You should definitely choose a hairstyle that you feel comfortable and, most importantly, pretty in! You don’t want to try something different and look back wondering "Oh God, what did I do?" Halle Berry is a good example of this. She rarely changes her hair silhouette. She wears a look that she knows looks good on her.
EBONY.com: Rihanna’s hair is ever-changing. Why did you decide to cut her hair short again?
US: We wanted it to be about the hair but not about the hair, you know? I wanted hair that was really sexy, really chic, that would bring her in that direction for her new album. When I was cutting it, I told her, "I don’t want to give you anything you’ve had before." With this look, the focus is truly on her face, not the hair anymore.
EBONY.com: The question everyone is dying to know: what is it like working with her? Why do you love working with her?
US: Wow, so many reasons. On the creative tip, I really get to do anything I want. I mean, who really gets to do that? It’s never boring. Over the past year, she has assumed so many looks, and that keeps it refreshing. I get to work with one person but I still have that creative flexibility that I would have if I was doing multiple clients in a salon.
EBONY.com: For those who keep up with you on social media, you are always on the go! Where do you go to relax?
US: I mean, anywhere that there is sun and sand. [laughs] The Caribbean has always been my favorite, but if I can’t get there, a quick Miami run. I travel so much with long 15-hour plane rides, so a quick trip is always best.
EBONY.com: You have had the ability to transition from the salon to celeb hairstylist to, now, brand ambassador. How did you make that transition?
US: It’s one of those dreams you never really expect to come true. My whole career I’ve always wanted more. I always mentioned that I’d love to teach, and I now have the ability to do that in South Africa with Motions. I teach stylists their new techniques and about the products. The South African market is so receptive over there. [Motions] believes in me so much, which is the best feeling. I want to make them proud and really reach their consumer in a new way. It's so fulfilling and I’m so grateful.
EBONY.com: Finally, what’s up next for you in 2013?
US: It’s a hard question to answer, but I definitely want to lean more towards becoming an entrepreneur. People always ask me if I’d open a salon and I would… just not something super big. It would be a comfortable place for women to sit, get pretty and have a cocktail or two. But to summarize, [I want to] continue to teach, gain more clients and grow as a professional.
—Janell M. Hickman