- Edition 2, Chapter 6 -
Prior to the first of many visits to Hairstory Studio, Oakley, an actor and model lost her boyfriend Phil to cancer and was “reaching for as many creative outlets as I can.” It was one of her first efforts to move forward with her life and do something positive – for herself – and turn her attention back to performing. In recent months, we began to notice through her Instagram posts a new Oakley emerging; photographs of her were becoming more and more modern, relevant, and confident. Over a year later, and now loyal to Wes and Roxie for cuts and color, she sat down with us to share how her life and career have evolved.
Someone said to me, ‘I feel like you’ve been trying to be somebody, and now you’re finally you.’ That’s a mixed compliment, but it’s interesting to hear. Hair always helps; it’s a huge factor, but I’ve also been travelling and spending time with people that have helped me rebuild myself.
I always thought I didn’t care what people thought about me. I could be free and wild, but when Phil died, I was awakened to losing everything, and really not caring. I asked for help, and collaborated with people who could help. I learned that being authentic doesn’t mean being flamboyant; I don’t have to put on a character to be myself. Coming down to ‘ground zero’ has helped me in my work – grief never really ends; you move within it, and it will continue to come up, but I have a choice when I wake up every day to choose life for my parents, friends…
I’ve made a conscious choice to pare things down, to make things more basic. I made a rule only to invest in things I can attach good memories to, like coming to Hairstory. Recently I was on set for a job and they offered to cut my hair into a ’70s-style shag, and I said, ‘NO!’ I’m not buying jewelry or clothes unless they mean something to me; I only audition for things I feel I can invest in. When I go home to Wyoming, people treat me as they always have, as if I am the same I’ve always been – but I’m not.
I think it was the second time I came to Hairstory when Wes said, ‘Bangs!’ I was hesitant, but when I came back the next time, I said, ‘I trust you,’ and now I love them because they hide what I call the sad lines on my forehead which photographers always mention getting rid of in Photoshop; I’m tired of them bringing it up, so bangs help with how I feel and how people respond. In one sense I’m hiding behind my hair, but in another sense it’s freeing.
What am I working on now? A childhood friend and I are writing a show together, a project that brought us both back home to Lander, Wyoming – a tiny town of 7,000 people and a group of 12 women who have been through extreme loss. We rally together, honor our experiences, and document the grief, the strength. We hold space for each other, have conversations and tell our stories whatever they are. There’s so much more that can come up than you expect when you expose the vulnerability – necessary, horrible, beautiful things. There may be moments when you’re so lost you can’t talk. It’s awesome to be learning in such unknown waters.
I try not to function on autopilot. On my desk I have a quote from Joan Rivers: “Work with blinders on.” I think that means always keep moving; stay focused. All you have to do is look at what’s right in front of you.