In the 70’s when we arrived in Houston Texas the most glamorous woman in the world had to be my aunt Sultana, or at least she was in my eyes, and the thing that made her so glamorous was her “kotso” as we say in Greek or her big hair piled high on top of her head. Now I had seen women in Athens with their hair worn up, but never had I seen anything as grand and as glorious as this. Unfortunately, the hair fashion at the time was moving towards a more natural, long and straight look but luckily the women of Texans held on to their big hair long after the fashion had come and gone and certainly long enough to inspire me for decades to come.

I will never forget Sharon Stone’s hair in Casino, it was like an avalanche of Aqua Net hairspray washed over me, or more appropriately, “stuck to me” and forever cemented in my mind and heart what the ideal hairdo should look like. Years later, right before I made the decision to use up what remained of my father’s inheritance and my own fading courage to finally make my film, I woke up one morning in a state of sheer panic. “Hair, I need hair,” I said to myself and this was so powerfully impressed upon me that I did not question it but got up and immediately drove to the nearest wig shop on Wilshire Blvd. Now, not knowing what kind of hair you’re looking for in a sea of hair colors and styles does not exactly make you a gem of a customer so the girl was as annoyed as I was perplexed when I finally blurted out “I need something blond that I can pile really high on top of my head.”

The drive back home to my Korea-town flat was one of calm and contentment as if having achieved my goal I could now rest. Arriving at my posh and humble abode I immediately set about wrapping the hair in teal tissue paper and lovingly placing it into a beautiful gold box I seemed to have been saving for just such an occasion. I then stored the box on a shelf on top of my closet and declared it “done.” Was it strange that I did not try it on and play with it, creating a myriad of styles and looks? You bet it was, for few things gave me greater pleasure than creating new hairstyles, however, I had put it away with such a sense of conviction that I did not dare question it. It wasn’t in fact till a short time later when I realized that the hair had not been intended for me after all, but for my leading lady, Sophia.

Let me explain. After some time of a casting debacle, I knew that I had found my perfect “Sophia,” the character I had created, in the uber-talented Sarah Leners. Now, after having tried many options I was also certain that the dress she would be wearing was a 50’s inspired black and white number my mom had passed down to me for a play we had performed in Astoria, Queens that is. Yet the oh so vital question of what would we do with her hair had not yet been answered. Lori, our wonderful hair person had proposed a good many looks but nothing thrilled my loins the way true inspiration does. No matter what she did it I was left shaking my head with a “meh.” When suddenly, like lightning it hit me, “I have the perfect hair for her!” I screamed or maybe just shouted out loud, but whatever it was it sent me straight to the top of my closet where I eagerly tore into the box and through the teal tissue harshly jolting the blond hair piece from its nocturnal slumber and exclaiming “she’s going to have a kotso!”

I would like to say that we all fell on our knees in awe after Lori expertly piled, curled, teased, set and sprayed the most magnificent hair creation I had ever seen, but I would only be slightly exaggerating. What I do know is that the moment I saw that hair on Sarah I knew that Sophia was now complete and ready for her close up.

Hairspiration, or how Sophia’s hair came into being…