The Derek J

BY Michelle Garcia

August 09 2010 3:45 PM ET

DEREK J HAIR BATTLE SPECTACULAR X390What kind of preparation does it take to compete on this level?
I actually have a different approach for how I compete. My team and I really take most of our time prepping for a show: getting a theme together, getting the music together. We’re coordinating the theme, the music, the models, getting the show and everything about a month prior. Then we don’t practice until the last two weeks before the show. A lot of people practice for up to six months to do the show. I just feel like you can’t. I work with professionals, so if you can’t really get it within the two weeks, you ain’t gonna ever get it. There’s no point in keeping practicing and wasting everybody’s time. We come at it really off the fly. We like mistakes. If something happens differently than we practiced, we understand that’s part of the show. It gives our show more character.

The contestants on Hair Battle Spectacular don’t have the ability to plan in the same way, correct?
No, they don’t.

So what do they have to do in order to make up that time?
You know what? I commend every contestant on HBS. I don’t know where I would fall in that category. I don’t know if I would have made it past the first round. All of my time goes into trial and error. Because I’m like, “I know I’m gonna make a tree,” but how do you actually make a tree out of hair? You go to the store, you buy all this crap, and you just try to make it work. Sometimes it works the first time, sometimes it doesn’t. So you know, so you say, “OK, using this doesn’t work, so let’s try to use this.” So the fact that we put these kids on a time schedule and we say “You have to make it work, and it has to be a good fit on the model’s head, and it has to be functional”— it was just crazy to be on the time schedule. I was telling the producers, “This is unbelievable what you’re asking these kids to do.” For one of those fantasy pieces that they make, it might take a professional two weeks to make, and they were making them in hours. They were put under a lot of pressure, but they were able to actually pull it off. And I think with time, they would have been able to be perfect, but the fact that they only had eight hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, or however many hours we gave them was amazing to me that they were able to get it together.






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