The Voice has started taping for season 17 of the show and fans are looking forward to the return of coach Gwen Stefani. But it’s not just the fans who are excited! Many faces behind-the-scenes are glad to have Gwen back on set as well.
Did you see The Voice’s preview where Gwen blocks Blake?
One of those is The Voice’s Department Head Hairstylist and SEVEN TIME Emmy-nominee, Jerilynn Stephens.
Talent Recap had a chance to talk to Jerilynn about her career as a hairstylist, how she got into the film/TV industry, and why she loves working on NBC’s hit shows, The Voice and Songland.
TALENT RECAP: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get you did into hairstyling?
JERILYNN STEPHENS: I’m originally from a town in Northern Michigan called Traverse City. When I was 21, I moved to Seattle, Washington. Turning 25, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I never really had any big dreams growing up. And when I was 25, I decided to go to beauty school because I felt like I needed to do something. It turns out, when I was in beauty school, I finally felt a sense of purpose. Making people feel and look beautiful was something that I wanted to do. While I was in beauty school, I went on a film set and at that point, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
TR: So your resume is extremely impressive. You’ve styled for a ton of shows!
JS: Well I’ve worked on two shows forever, The Voice and Shark Tank.
TR: Yes and you’ve been on The Voice since the first season?
JS: Right, I was hired on as a Hairstylist in the first season of The Voice for the Battle Rounds. Then, by season 3, I became the Key Hairstylist. And by season 9, the Department Head got a different opportunity and left, so I became the Department Head.
TR: How have you noticed The Voice evolve throughout the years, working behind-the-scenes for all that time?
JS: It is constantly evolving, which I think is really incredible. There’s always something new happening, whether it’s a way of voting, steals, or the blocks! I just love that the show is constantly changing. And I really love the fact that the coaches do change out a bit because it just keeps it exciting.
Like this season coming up, everyone wants to see how Gwen (Stefani) and Blake (Shelton) are going to interact without having Adam (Levine) . It’s going to be a fun season to watch!
TR: Definitely! So do you primarily work with the artists on the show?
JS: I am in charge of the artists and the design, which is a collaboration between the artist, myself, and the producers. The song and the wardrobe are everything when designing a hair look.
TR: Like you said, that is kind of a team effort then, correct?
JS: One hundred percent. We have 100 people go through the Blind Auditions; it’s a lot. That’s 1,600 people over 16 seasons! And when you look at it like that, that’s a whole lotta hair. It keeps it exciting! For me, I am there to help the artist transform into a star, into who they want to become. What I love to have them do is start putting together a Pinterest board and inspiration hair photos. It’s really a collaboration. It’s a really exciting process.
TR: Along those lines, I’ve been watching The Voice for as long as you’ve been working on the show. And I realize I’m going to date myself a little here but there have been some artists who have gone through big hair transformations. I think back to Korin Bukowski and Braiden Sunshine. In those bigger hair decisions like going platinum or getting a more substantial haircut, are those ideas that come from you and your department?
JS: Well it’s funny that you mention those two particular ones because those were Gwen’s idea.
TR: Okay, I was about to say! That was the common thread here.
JS: What I love about Gwen is that she is about the whole look. So I’m excited about this season coming up, to see what she’ll have in mind as well. Korin, Gwen wanted her platinum. Korin was into it because Gwen wanted it. So we did it, and then literally the next day, Korin wanted to go back to her normal color. And I go, “Girl, we gotta wait at least another week or else you’re gonna look crazy.” So I did eventually tone her down and she felt more comfortable. But for me, that’s a fun opportunity to execute what Gwen sees.
TR: Are there any other artists or hairstyles that stand out to you as being particularly memorable?
JS: Oh my gosh, Chloe Kohanski. As an artist, she had a vision and I absolutely loved her vision. Every week, it was something different and she kept it in that 70’s/80’s vibe. What I love to do is teach the artists how to do their own hair. So everything we’re doing throughout the season, I want them to know how they can execute it on their own. That’s really important for me. But now Chloe chose not to move forward in that direction, she has more of a standard bob now, because it was probably just a hard, hard look for her to maintain outside of the show.
TR: Well she’s one of my personal favorites so I’m glad she was a fun artist to work with! You touched on this a few minutes ago when you were discussing how the show has been evolving and I just want to circle back to it. One of the changes the show made last season was the Live Cross Battles. That was the largest number of people we’ve ever seen in a live show. How does changes that affect your team, especially going live with so many artists?
JS: For those two weeks, it was crazy. But they do give us a crew. Still, during a live show, I get an hour for hair. Makeup gets an hour and 15 minutes, because they do body makeup as well. Here is the great thing about hair on the show though.
We usually get a call time around 7:00am and we get everybody through the works 100%—hair, makeup, and wardrobe—for dress rehearsal. I love dress rehearsal because then we can see if it’s working or if it’s not. There’s no surprises for anyone! A lot of times the producers and I will be texting back and forth about changes we want to make. I should have an album about what you didn’t see on The Voice!
And the most important thing about hair for us is the prepping so it holds all day long. Then it’s really just a touch-up before the show! I’m also in charge of all the backup dancers, the musicians, anything extra on the stage hair-wise.
TR: And that’s probably why you’ve been nominated for SEVEN Emmys! How does that make you feel and what are they looking for when they select nominees?
JS: It’s such an honor. I’m so grateful for it. And I was thinking about this the other day. I am the only one who has seven, because I’m the only one who’s still around! The Top 13 episode is what we decided to nominate this year. We have to always submit the episode ahead of time because they have a deadline. With the Top 13, I was going to have the most females. And for me, that’s what’s most important. It’s all about female hair. And the attention to detail is everything!
TR: What are you most proud of from your experiences on The Voice?
JS: Oh gosh, I’m actually most proud of this season. And it has nothing to do with hair, it’s my Key Hairstylist. She actually, at the end of the season, got diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and she’s fighting for her life right now. She’s going to go to the Emmys with us this season. And we’re a family! This particular season has meant more to me and our team than any season ever.
TR: Wow, that’s incredible to hear, especially being part of such a supportive community there. It’s important for us to see what is really happening on these shows because it’s not just TV magic. Shifting gears, you also do hair for Songland. How is that show different from The Voice?
JS: Songland is smaller and more intimate. It’s totally different. That show has different artists each episode so less about developing the stars. It’s really about the songs they’ve written and showcasing their unique style there.
TR: Well we love that show too. It really is so unique! Is there anything else you want our readers to know about you?
JS: This past year I have made it a mission to speak at beauty schools and Hair Shows to our future industry professionals on my journey to becoming Head Hairstylist on top rated shows. I have felt incredibly blessed in my career and my life. Through rock bottom times and great times, I persevered and I needed to find a way to give back. Sharing my experience and practice of “The 5 ‘F’ Words to Manifesting Your Life” is my book I’m launching in November. No dream is too small or big and you are worth having your dreams.
In addition to all this, Jerilynn also shared that she has styled huge stars like Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec!