Celebrity stylist and fashion leader Dwight Eubanks may be known for his colorful commentary on the hit reality show The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but he also devotes time to community issues, recently hosting Her Crown & Glory in Chicago, a fundraiser for African American women who have alopecia or hair loss due to chemotherapy. Eubanks styled women whose hair came out after chemo treatments. "I'd style them and their hair was coming out in clumps," he said. But he reassured them. "We're going to get through this." Eubanks owns the wildly popular The Purple Door in Atlanta and is an internationally recognized stylist.
YLW: You were a host for Her Crown & Glory, the Krystal Foundations' fundraiser for African American women who have alopecia.
DE: The event was fabulous. It would be a travesty if they don't continue this and keep it up. Neiman Marcus was a sponsor, Carson Soft Sheen was a sponsor. Most important were the survivors. It just made my heart happy and sad to see them courageously share their true experience. I hope they take this event across the country.
YLW: Why did you get involved?
DE: I have a personal relationship with this experience. I've had clients that are no longer with me. I saw what they went through. This is a story to tell. We're a special kind of people and this is a need that has to be addressed. For these people to come forward and share their stories is amazing. We have designers who make wonderful wigs. But on the other hand, if you want to go bald its okay. It's nothing to be ashamed of. We still have female baldness which we don't talk about. The more we educate, the more we can help.
YLW: You do a lot of service work in the community. Why?
DE: Success is me helping somebody else. Helping The Jerusalem House, or The Evolution Project which is a part of AIDS Atlanta, where teens ages 13-18 who are HIV positive and homeless get assistance. Evelyn Lowery (Women of SCLC) and I put it together. Or my work with the Cancer Center. It's about giving back and helping somebody. That's why we're here.
YLW: You're also a fashion expert. What role has fashion and hair played in African American culture?
DE: We have so many options today. Years ago we didn't have the same technology. You can be whoever you want to be. You can take a man and make him a woman. That's the power of technology. And it still amazes me. There are no limits.
YLW: Why do you think image plays such a big role in African American identity?
DE: It's not just about us, it's about everybody. This is a looks society. It's all about image. You want to wear it natural, wear it straight or do nothing. Either way its fine.
YLW: Have perceptions on sexual orientation in our community changed over the years?
DE: It's a different day and a different time. We have evolved and we are still evolving. As Americans we always want to put a label on it. In the European markets they don't. If you want to be with the same sex go right ahead. We are going to leave this world one day, we might as well live as if it's our last . The bottom line is nobody really cares. They just want you to be honest. Be honest to your God and to yourself.
YLW: Is "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" a groundbreaking show? Four black well-to-do women and their drama could be considered a television first.
DE: No, it's not groundbreaking for nobody. We don't take it as a groundbreaking show just like Real Housewives in Orange County isn't groundbreaking. These are 5 women and this is who they are. They didn't win a pageant. People went knocking and they said yes. They don't represent nobody. This is who they are.
YLW: Whenever there are shows or films with an African American cast, this issue of image and responsibility comes up.
DE: We have options, you can look at it or not look at it. You have choices . It's the number one show, so everyone's watching. It's almost like being addicted to crack. The more reruns they show, the more people watch. My mom can't stop watching. I think she has a problem.
YLW: Why is the show so popular?
DE: People can relate to it. When I was in Chicago, I was with people I didn't think watched the show, but they had me down to a T, and these were some Jewish white women, They love the show and they love me. I met some wonderful people who watch the show. Straight guys, red neck guys. They run up to me. This one guy ran up on me in the airport and I almost pulled out my knife. I'm still shocked. You never know whose watching.
YLW: You have a show in the works as well.
DE: Once they figure out what they want to do with me they'll let me know. And trust me, they're working on it.
YLW: In the age of reality shows, how do you become a successful reality star?
DE: This is really who I am. The way I dress on the show is how I dress everyday. Either you love me or you hate me. I go on. I speak what's on my mind. I am not an actor, I am not an aspiring actor. I am Dwight Eubanks, I'm true to myself and true to my God.
For more information on Dwight Eubanks, go to www.purpledoorsalon.com