Hollywood Hair Guy -
Dean Banowetz with core team members (left) Meagan Herrera-Schaaf and Cory Rotenberg.
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Hollywood Hair Guy

Dean Banowetz shares how you can make movie magic.

Got stars in your eyes? If a gifted young man raised on a farm in DeWitt, Iowa, can make it big in Hollywood, so can you-as long as you have drive, talent, top organizational skills, and truly enjoy teamwork. In a nutshell, this is the advice meted out by Dean Banowetz, the Hollywood Hair Guy, who has successfully worked in the entertainment business since 2000.

July/August 2013 Find in
July/August 2013

In addition to numerous gigs as a lead stylist— American Idol, X-Factor and E! News, to name just a few shows—Banowetz has been Simon Cowell’s personal haircutter for the past 12 years and frequently coifs other celebrities, including Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Leeza Gibbons.

He’s also a sought-after guest expert for highpowered talk shows like Good Day LA and Oprah.

Of course there are other reasons for Banowetz’s phenomenal success, including his ability to network; get along extremely well with others; and always be dependable, prepared and able to produce the same high-quality work from start to fi nish, no matter how long a project takes to complete. Banowetz also has a tremendous amount of patience and an unfl appable personality—even when stars behave badly—two virtues that he perfected at an early age by being 1 of 15 children. (@DeanBanowetz) (

On a sunny California day this summer, HOT Editorin- Chief Jeryl Spear shared some face time with the Hollywood Hair Guy, a self-professed shameless promoter, passionate stylist and top educator, who’s remarkably tall, handsome and has a killer smile. “Dean reminds me of a big-screen super hero disguised as a teddy bear,” Spear laughs. “I keep expecting him to tear away his disguise and unfurl an oversized red cape. I think this is because Dean has such a warm yet strong presence and, for thousands of stylists, he’s the ultimate American Idol.”

Joining the Local 706 is an important step in becoming established in Los Angeles. Why is this such a big deal?

It’s definitely a big step for all hair and makeup talent who want to become involved in movies or television shows. One of the biggest perks of our union is a fabulous healthcare plan. There are also classes offered to members only, which are designed to continually grow our skills for the camera. In fact, I’ve just signed up for a class on airbrushing. There’s no time to actually dye hair on set, so airbrushing is a great way to temporarily change hair color in minutes, including overall or for special effects.

Banowetz, Sean Smith and Ann Bray prepare the exquisite wigs and headpieces for Taylor Swift’s opening act at the 2013 Grammy Award Ceremony.

Regarding the Local 706, please explain the 60/60/60 way to get into the union.

The 60/60/60 route is actually the most common way to become a union member. It means that you must work 60 days a year for three consecutive years on non-union entertainment programs, television shows or movies. Another way is to be grandfathered into the union. When I first worked as the lead hairstylist for American Idol, for instance, it was a non-union show. When it became union, all the makeup and hair talent that stayed with the show were automatically given union membership. If you’re a celebrity stylist, you can also become a union member if the celebrity stipulates that you must do his or her hair services for a show. [For more information:]

We talked about your talent, dedication and work ethic earlier in this article. I would love for you to go into more depth about why these attributes are so important.

They’re essential in so many ways. Having the ability and desire to network, for instance, allows those who are in a position to hire you, know that you exist. This means that you need to be constantly involved in the entertainment industry, whether it’s volunteering for worthy Hollywood causes or working non-union shows for very little money. These same activities also help build your resume.

Bow Tie Designer:

Regarding teamwork, you advise that stylists should either try to join a good team or create a team. What do you mean by this?

First, I want to say that working with a team where members don’t get along or have poor work habits make for terrible working conditions. If we have a 7:12 call time and even one member comes strolling in at 7:20, someone else—who’s already extremely busy—has to pull up the slack. Running on time is everything for shows. If our department is even one minute late in finishing the hair and makeup for a movie that’s budgeted for $200 million, it could cost the studio thousands of dollars. Likewise, a solid team can do wonders in terms of getting a job done in a timely manner and doing so without the added tension of having interpersonal conflicts.

“A great deal of work on set involves styling wigs and extensions. Shown: I’m in the process of distressing a wig for a VH1 show, StevieTV. What you don’t see: I used an air puffer to apply black hair thickening fibers at the base to simulate a dark regrowth.” Dean Banowetz

What is your goal in terms of a team?

I strive to always be part of a great group of talent like Linda Flowers’ team, who’s the head hairstylist for the Hunger Games franchise and one of my most important mentors. I also have my own circle of people, whom I admire for their talent, great work habits and ability to work together as seamlessly as a choreographed dance. When I’m the lead hairstylist on a project, they’re automatically brought onboard when needed and visa versa.

Why are organizational skills so crucial to the team and project?

When you’re working on an episodic show or film, you’ve got to keep careful records—in the form of a continuity book—of each scene and all of its changes. If you’re working on scene 10, pages 1 and 2, for instance, the character you’re doing could look different than on pages 3 and 4. This is where careful documentation—written and pictures—are essential.

When a film initially wraps, it’s very common to have pick-up shots from any given scene and any part of that scene. Your continuity book is the only way to know how you did the hair or makeup. As soon as the initial scene is shot, I put the extensions, headband, or whatever I used in a Ziploc bag, which I then date and mark with the scene number and script pages. Being organized like this, as well as keeping detailed records in my continuity book, allows me to accurately and correctly recreate any character look in quick order. This is just one example of why you’ve got to have great organizational skills and the ability to pay attention to even minute details.

Before closing, I want to ask a slightly offtopic question. What’s it like to work with Simon Cowell?

Believe it or not, Simon is a dream to work with. When my family members visit me in Hollywood, he’s so gracious and nice to them. He’s also very loyal. When Simon hires you, he hires you for life. I’ve been cutting Simon’s hair—he does his own styling—since 2002. In all that time, he’s been nothing short of a great guy.

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