By Jackie Fields
September 17, 2016 06:39 PM
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Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/Getty

Kerry Washington’s red carpet hair never disappoints. And for the Emmy Awards on Sunday, her longtime hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew plans on serving up yet another awesome style to compliment what’s sure to be the world’s most stylish baby bump.

“[Kerry’s hair] has to be something very special. Because she’s pregnant, it’s gonna have to be [a style] that will blow everyone away.”

But if anyone can pull off such a show-stopping look, it’s the duo, who have collaborated on styles for over 14 years. Ahead of their upcoming surprise, we sat down with the stylist (and creator of TSD Hair extensions) to get the scoop on their long-standing relationship — and secrets of their most successful styles.

“I don’t specialize in one thing, I do it all. And I think that’s what makes me different.”
— Takisha Sturdivant-Drew

Be honest, can Kerry handle her own hair?

Yes. [Kerry’s] natural, so she doesn’t have any chemicals in her hair, it’s just curly and thick. She shampoos it every week, sometimes more depending on how much she’s working out. And she conditions her hair with Neutrogena Deep Recovery Hair Mask [while] sitting under heat because it just brings her hair back to life. She actually introduced me to it, and now when I use it on my own hair, within seconds it feels like butter. But the most important thing for Kerry is she does not use heat styling tools on her hair if she’s not going out. She leaves it in its natural state. She’s all about the health of her hair.

Many stars are rocking their natural texture on the red carpet, will we ever see Kerry do that?

Yes, I think we’re going to try that very soon. I don’t like to keep her looking the same, I always like to change up.

Is she Olivia Pope-level involved in her hair choices?

She’s actually always working, she really is. But I always ask, “what do you want to do today?” because she might have a style that she wants to try — and if she does, she’ll tell me because she’s very honest. But most of the time I just start styling and then she’ll look and she’ll say, “Kisha!” or she’ll say, “Oh my God, this is the look! I love it, I love it.”

When creating a red carpet look for Kerry, where do you find inspiration?

I’m always looking at magazines and on the internet, but she will also text me pictures saying she likes something, and I’ll keep a file so that when we’re together, I can pull out those pictures and say, “It’s time to play! This is the time, let’s try this!” Either it will work or it won’t work. But most of the time, it works.

What’s the vibe like when you’re getting her ready?

Not only am I her hairstylist — we’re also really good friends. But when it comes to me styling her hair, she’ll tell you I won’t say a word to her because I’m just so focused on the look. I’ll say, “Hi” and I’ll give her a hug but when I’m silent or cutting she’s like, “Oh Kisha’s very serious,” and I’m like, “Yeah, because this is my job!”

What’s the biggest red carpet risk you two have ever taken?

I would say this past Oscars, when we did the ponytail. I’d never really given her a look like that, it felt so young and fresh. When she walked on the carpet, all I saw was her ponytail swinging from side to side. I wanted that movement, so I loved it, and so did everyone else!

Billy Farrell/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

You and Kerry work so seamlessly together, what’s one of your crazier get-ready memories?

Once we were shooting in a mansion, but [to get Washington ready] they put us in room the size of a closet. And the lighting was terrible! They were like, “This is a glam room,” And I was like, “No, it’s not!” So I had to do her hair first, then her makeup artist did her makeup. It was a mess — but we made it work!

Aside from Kerry, what other celebrities have you styled over the years?

I worked with Lucy Liu for about five or six years. I actually met her when I was shooting an ad with Kerry. The next week, I got booked for a hair test, and then she booked me for a movie. I couldn’t do it, because I was traveling, but I worked with her on her TV show Elementary for a few seasons. And I actually just started working with Ashley Graham which was really cool! I was with her for about seven days straight [recently] and every day I gave her a different look. I was like, “Are you open? Like, just trust me on this. If you don’t like it, we can change it!” She was like, “I love to look different!” She ended up loving everything. And I was like, “Oh my God, you’re killing it.”

Do you like working with a wide range of hair textures?

Yes. I don’t want to just have African-American women in my book, I want to have all women — and men. I groom men, too. I think it should be mandatory to know how to do everybody’s hair, it shouldn’t just be one way. I don’t specialize in one thing — I do it all. And I think that’s what makes me different.

How did you get your start in this industry?

I grew up in Long Island City and I went to Queens Vocational and Technical High School, where I was doing hair. When I graduated, I started working in an upscale salon on on Lexington Avenue [in Manhattan]. And right away I said to the owner, who I’m still friends with to this day, “You know I want to become a celebrity hairstylist!” I built up a clientele pretty fast, and [eventually] I got Kerry’s manager! Then one day Kerry was doing a photo shoot with Vogue, and they called me in to do it. We instantly clicked, and then she started calling me for everything.

When you’re not traveling for work, you style everyday women in your hair studio in Brooklyn. What celeb style do they request most?

That textured bob. All the time. Everyone asks me how I create those waves. The secret is: I use a 1.5-in. barrel to curl sections counter clockwise [as well as] clockwise because I don’t want the hair to fall in one direction. I want the volume to stay there. Then, I just let [the waves] fall naturally and then I’ll just shake them with my hand. No comb, no brush.

You recently launched TSD Hair, your very own hair extension line! What was this venture important to you?

I was trying different extensions on different celebrities, and I was like, “I don’t like this hair. This hair is nice, but it’s too silky, [or] this hair’s nice but it’s tangling. The quality is so important. So I started to look for my own extensions! It took over three years. After I finally found the right textures, my husband helped me with the packaging and everything. I call him my manager. When I launched TSD Hair at the Bronner Brothers hair show, they sold out! For me, when it comes to extensions and weaves, it has to look natural. It has to blend. Nobody should know your secret, they should just think, “Oh wow, your hair looks great.”

Are they only for professionals like yourself?

No, some you can clip right in. Those are amazing because they change the way you look and feel without damaging your hair.

After all this time, what inspires you?

My clients. And not just my celebrity ones. I [work with] doctors, lawyers, teachers and stay at home moms who push me to try something new.

This interview has been condensed and edited.