Backstage

  • Cheryl Marks and The Voice contestant Judith Hill
  • Cheryl Marks styled actress Elizabeth Banks in her new movie Walk of Shame
  • Marks used Oribe products on Sarah Chalke on the set of How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life).
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Cheryl Marks

Hairstylist Cheryl Marks may be small in stature, but she has a huge amount of talent and energy. “When I worked for Oribe in his salon, he called me ‘L’Machine’ because of the amount of haircuts and styles I could do in a day,” Marks recalls. While she no longer spends her days whizzing around a salon, she’s a force to be reckoned with on set. Some of Marks’ credits include The Ellen Degeneres Show, Top Chef, The Bling Ring, How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) and her Emmy-nominated “role” behind the scenes on The Voice. We talked to Marks about what it’s like to work on live television, how she got her start and what she learned from working with Oribe.

When did you know you wanted to be a hairdresser?


The second I walked into a New York City salon, I knew that was where I belonged. I was attending a two-year college and started working as a shampoo girl on weekends. When I graduated, I immediately enrolled in beauty school and then entered the salon world. One of my first jobs was with Sassoon in London.

How did you get your start doing hair for television and movies?


While I was in London, I started building up my portfolio with photoshoots. TV and movie gigs happened gradually from there, but they weren’t something I actively pursued until I joined the union a couple of years ago. I had believed the myth that editorial stylists are more talented than hairdressers working on TV and movie sets, but I was totally wrong. When you’re working in the entertainment industry, you have to know everything…period hair, wigs, which products work on screen and more.

You’ve done scripted television such as How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) and live shows, like The Voice. How do they differ?


Working on a live show is like nothing else I’ve experienced—it’s a monster! There are only a small circle of hairdressers who do it, so you’re always being asked to work on other live shows. When you’re doing live television, you only have one shot to get it right; hair can’t fall apart onstage and you can’t have flyaways…especially with high definition! For something like The Voice, you’re working with both the artist and the network to come up with a “look” that makes everyone happy. You want to look very current, so fashion plays a big part of it. My fashion background has really helped me with that. You stand with the contestants offstage until the moment they step out. I’m always armed with Dry! It gives hair another dimension without making it look or feel sticky.

When you’re working on a scripted show or a movie, you’re building a character. For example, Sarah Chalke’s Polly character on How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) is all over the place. She’s a cute divorced mom who’s a bit of a mess, and her hair needs to reflect that. Sometimes it’s a little more simple. I just finished Walk of Shame, a new movie with Elizabeth Banks, and all she said to me when we started was, “Just make me look good every day!” While they’re filming, you sit by the monitor to see how the styles look on screen…and then tweak them when necessary.

Do you work with both the judges and the contestants on The Voice?


For the live shows, we just work with the contestants. There are five of us on the team, and we really collaborate on the looks, which makes our work so much stronger. We do the contestants’ hair in the morning, then they go rehearse and NBC gives us notes on the hair. We use their feedback to tweak the styles for the live performances that night. What’s exciting is that every week we can push their looks a little bit more. Judith has very architectural hair, which is going to be a lot of fun to work with.

Along with your ever-present Dry, what are some of the other Oribe products you love on set?


We’ve all been using Gold Lust on The Voice; it’s become a hero product in our kits. It’s not heavy and it really delivers results. We use it to blow the hair dry, get rid of flyaways and add shine before the contestants take the stage.

We also use a lot of Superfine because you can spray it on and still work with the hair. Plus, it doesn’t dull the hair at all.

Before you started working on set, you worked with Oribe in his Parachute salon. What was that like?


When I got back from London, I had heard that Oribe was opening a salon where everyone was able to continue to do freelance work, so I applied for the job. There were five stations for the 10 of us, and we rotated between the salon and photo shoots. It was really the best of both worlds. I can’t describe the energy and creativity at Parachute—there were always models and top photographers coming and going, so there was constant inspiration. We all collaborated, and Oribe was our leader. Oribe ran a real team; he was like our captain instead of our boss, and he was always open to learning from the rest of us. That’s how I run my teams now—it’s something I learned from him. He also introduced me to Velcro rollers! His styling techniques were truly amazing.
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