BY Greg Archer
June 23 2008 12:00 AM ET
Jaclyn Smith took down the bad guys on Charlie’s Angels 30 years ago, but now she’s happily traded in the pistol for the hair dryer. As host of Bravo’s hot-air hit Shear Genius, the titular angel generates buzz as the compassionate mentor to a slew of passionate, often emotional hair designers. The reality show debuted last summer. Season 2 premieres June 25 and features three gay contestants. Smith talks openly about her reservations about entering the reality TV fold and why she didn’t split hairs about Shear Genius. In between, she waxes philosophical about the Angels legacy, the success of her K-Mart clothing brand, and the recently relaunched Jaclyn Smith Home Collection. (Think Martha Stewart sans the Bree Van De Kamp gush.)
Shear Geniusis one hot show. Well, it’s fun; it’s different. It’s certainly a new area for me. I learn a lot. I challenge myself. I went in a new direction, as they say.
What was so intriguing about this particular show? Did you have any reservations about doing reality TV? Definitely. Because I didn’t watch a lot of reality television, and my daughter said, ‘Oh, you have to watch Project Runway. So I did. And then I liked it. It was not what I imagined reality TV to be. I wasn’t a big fan of The Swan or Wife Swap. I mean, that sent chills through me. That wasn’t good for anybody to watch, I think. So when I tuned into Project Runway and saw real talent at work, that fascinated me. In fact, everyone, even if you’re not a winner, walks away with some enlightenment and growth.
Where you surprised at how well Shear Genius was received when it debuted last year? I was. That was fascinating to me. I’m used to doing a movie or a mini-series and the response to this was just amazing. I think, maybe viewers feel they’re dipping into real life. Certainly, on many Bravo shows, there’s a lot of expert advice. You learn a lot. I think it’s another world, and people are fascinated with the lifestyles.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first tuned in. That’s true. And I questioned the concept of hair. I thought, “Well, how far can we go?” But hair really changes a woman more than anything -- more than her makeup, more than her clothes. And I found that I really learned a lot. I came from the world of hair and makeup and fashion. My first job came from a Breck commercial a producer had seen. And I had thought I was kind of expert, but not so much when I got on the show.
So what have you been learning on the show? For me, it was like, “My gosh, you really need to think on your feet.” For the stylists, it’s not about being the “best” cutter or colorist. It’s about staying within the challenge; staying within the moment and not becoming too desperate about “I must win this” or “I must impress.” You have to get to “OK, I do color great.” So concentrate on the color. The stylists have to manage their time and please their clients. So there’s no going within yourself. You’re in the moment, and you’re constantly thinking. It’s not like you have a script and you can memorize your lines. You’re in your own world there; you can retreat. You cannot retreat on this show. There are a million different cameras on you at any given time. And you’re out there with all these people trying to be fair and honest. This is not manipulated. This is about being the best in a particular challenge.