Regency: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
Ali: I have lived in Ft Collins, CO my whole life. I attended CSU for Public Relations and decided that it wasn't for me. My true passion was hair and makeup, so I enrolled at Regency in March of 2009. After graduating, I was offered an amazing opportunity to come and work at MTV in New York City, so here I am!
Regency: You just graduated in February! How did you end up landing such a great job so quickly?
Ali: Throughout my time at school, I shadowed a stylist at an upscale salon to expand my opportunities and make the most of my education. I wanted to take in everything I could, because I knew that the more experience and hands-on learning that I got, the more it would help me in my career. While I was in school, I also worked really hard to be able to attend the INsalon hair show in Minneapolis. It was amazing and inspiring, and it just motivated me to push harder.
During this time, my fiancé Justin kept in contact with a client of his, Elisa, in NYC who has worked at MTV for 16 years. When Elisa heard about my progress and hard work, she invited me to do a three month internship with her after I graduated. So we packed up our things in March 2010 (one month after I graduated) and did a "temporary move" to NYC for what was supposed to be three months.
Regency grad Ali Foster
Regency: How was your first day at MTV? Were you nervous? Scared? Confident?
Ali: The first day was very exciting! I watched how the talent's hair was done and at the end of the day I said, "I feel completely confident that I can do her hair." The very next day, they let me!
Regency: What was the internship like?
Ali: It was amazing. I was able to jump in very quickly and start working directly with the talent. After watching Elisa do hair and makeup for a photo shoot, she allowed me to try hands on the next time for the show. From that point on, I was styling the talent's hair every week completely on my own, and working on a few other shows.
Regency: How did your internship become a job offer?
Ali: After two months as an intern, I was told that I was creative and talented - and MTV offered me a full-time position working there on a new series!
Regency: Do you work mostly alone or on a team of stylists?
Ali: I work with the lady that I originally did the internship with, Elisa. She specializes in makeup so we work on the hosts of the show as a team, doing hair and makeup at the same time. You definitely have to work together! You have to pay attention to things like making sure not to move the talent's head while styling if your partner is putting eyeliner on them, to make sure not to stab them in the eye!
Regency: What are some challenges you face on the job?
Ali: One really big challenge is never knowing what condition the talent's hair will be in on any given day. Sometimes, they come in with soaking wet hair; other days it's dirty and ratted. And no matter what, you have the same limited amount of time to style it - even if they require extensions. You just never know what to plan for!
Regency: What's a typical week like for you?
Ali: As of now, we are waiting for our new series to launch so my weeks are pretty scattered. We've shot four pilots for the new series, and another pilot for a show to be launched in the fall. Some nights, I'll get an email at 9:00 pm asking me to be at work at 5:15 am the next morning! I am also doing hair and makeup for a few weddings and some promotional photo shoots on the side.
Regency: What have been your most fun and interesting experiences so far?
Ali: The most interesting experience for me, is being on set. You get to see how a show is filmed behind the scenes, and touch up the talent in between takes. It's also really crazy and exciting to see celebrities walking in and out of the studio daily and getting to meet some of them.
Regency: What are your future plans?
Ali: Justin and I (and our dog) need to decide if we want to go back to Colorado or stay here in New York permanently. In the meantime, I plan to work at MTV.
Regency: Any Regency student experiences that really stand out?
Ali: In my second month on the Performance Floor, I earned Student Master Designer status. I had to work my butt off but it was worth it. I gained many new clients that month and they continued to see me throughout the year.
Regency: Now that you have some experience in the industry, is it everything you wanted it to be?
Ali: It's even better than I thought. This industry is not just limited to working in a salon; the opportunities are endless.
Regency: What advice would you give our students and future students?
Ali: Don't let anyone hold you back! There will be bad days and days where you want to quit, but stay strong and positive and finish with your head held high.
Regency: Any parting words?
Ali:Think outside the box. While you learn a lot in school, there is only so much they can teach you during the program. Branch out and learn everything you can! Take additional cutting/color classes, buy how-to DVD's from reputable hair companies, shadow a stylist at a local salon - get out there and fill your head with knowledge. You never know what you can learn from yourself or others, and you never know who you may meet along the way!