Ahead of the premiere of TLC’s Hair Goddess on Wednesday (June 28), realscreen presents an exclusive clip from the show.
TLC’s new series from Left/Right Productions follows Christina Oliva (pictured), a born-and-raised Staten Islander who started her own hair extension company at the age of 18.
Starting in her parents’ garage, within three years Oliva built a loyal clientele, and was able to open her own salon and hire her sisters and cousin to work for her. With the support of her family, Olivia is ready to open a salon in the heart of Manhattan.
Audiences will follow Oliva and her family as they deal with the stresses of running a new salon.
Realscreen interviewed John Hein, executive producer, TLC, ahead of the premiere of Hair Goddess to find out more about the new project.
Can you provide a brief synopsis of the project?
Hair Goddess follows Christina Oliva, a hair extensions expert and salon owner from Staten Island. She just opened a brand new, full-service salon in the heart of Manhattan, but she’s learning that opening a salon in the big leagues is more challenging than she expected. The salon is a family business of sorts, which leads to all kinds of drama, but Christina wouldn’t have it any other way. Over the course of the season we’ll see if Christina and her family can build an empire in New York City. And we’ll see some incredible, emotional makeovers along the way.
What was the genesis for this series?
Christina and her family were discovered by Pete Ross at Left/Right. When he was getting married, his fiancé had heard about this place in Staten Island that did amazing extensions. They drove out there, and after meeting Christina and her sisters, he thought, “now this is a reality TV show.” And he was right. He then did a sizzle tape, brought the show to TLC and the development team fell in love with this family.
Why do you think there is an appetite for a program like Hair Goddess?
There is always an appetite for great characters and this show is filled with them. The entire family is loveable, funny and outspoken. Beyond that, Staten Island and the world of extensions are two places that we haven’t explored all that much on TLC. And lastly, there is the universal “small fish in a big pond” story of a Staten Island girl trying to make it in Manhattan. It reminded us of the movie Working Girl and it felt like a relatable story that many of our viewers would respond to.
What challenges did you face with production?
One challenge was the schedule. We were so excited about this show and felt summer was the best time for it, so the team at Left/Right did everything they could to rush to hit the air dates while still delivering a compelling, high-quality show.
Another challenge was that Christina’s husband’s work schedule didn’t allow him to be on the show. Considering she’s the star of the show, that felt like a big obstacle at first. But as we started shooting we saw that there was more than enough story to go around between emotional makeovers, salon drama, and fun with the rest of Christina’s family.
Can you name two or three elements that you think will make this series a success/appeal to audiences?
TLC viewers love tight-knit families and we definitely have that in this show. They care about each other so much and it shows, whether Christina is getting advice from her loving parents or trying to bring her whole family together to help run the salon.
TLC viewers also love interesting worlds they haven’t experienced before. And for many TLC viewers, Staten Island is one of those worlds. From the accents to the fashion to the way they relate to one another, it’s a fascinating subculture that many of our viewers are eager to experience.
Also, the makeovers in Hair Goddess are really remarkable. Every makeover in the show is meaningful. We have lighter stories like identical twins who have always looked the same and want to have their own unique identities for the first time in their lives. And on the more emotional side, Christina makes over a cancer survivor who feels she needs to see herself with long hair again to feel like she’s fully recovered.
What did you learn during the production of this project that you think would be valuable to other professionals in the industry?
Hair Goddess reaffirmed that the best content you get for a show is always the stuff that you didn’t plan for. Our field team built a great relationship with the cast and so they were clued into some major developments that had nothing to do with what we had planned to shoot for the premiere. We ended up with a very personal, emotional, real story that kicks the season off with a bang.
What’s your favorite moment (or scene or episode) from the series?
My favorite moments are the ones when Christina’s parents are giving Christina and her siblings heartfelt advice. Whether they’re trying to help Christina with her business or trying to get two sisters to make up, they always do so with the perfect mix of love and unintended humor. They really bring out the heart in the show.