Hair Expo’s evening that focuses on new and emerging talent, otherwise known as the GenNext Gala, is introducing new formatting elements that catapult its rising stars even further. The event is introducing a mentorship aspect, drawn from television talent shows that see experienced artists and experts take more inexperienced talents under their wing. These mentors will guide each team’s creative concepts for their show segments and provide artistic advice and counsel. With that in mind, let’s meet the mentors!

The mentors consist of Stevie English, who will mentor the British F.A.M.E. Team (in collaboration with BaByliss PRO), as well as current Schwarzkopf Professional Hair Expo Apprentice of the Year, Kelly Manu, with Team New Zealand. Lisa Muscat Vitale and Emiliano Vitale will mentor the Ibiza Hair and MENSPIRE collaborative show, as well as the Sydney TAFE Team. Caterina Di Biase will mentor the Claudia Cataldo Salon team in one show and the Artists Independent team in another. Justin Pace and Dmitri Papas (better known as Papas + Pace) will mentor the Guillaume Foundation by Intercoiffure team, as well as the Hair Biz Hotshots Team.

“The biggest learning curve was preparation and research, and how to use my time more efficiently and to work as a team with the people around me,” Emiliano said of his own experience with industry shows. “That is key to executing any show. There has to be meaning and connection with it. It is about finding yourself in the theme, the ideas and the overall presentation. Once you find yourself in this, everything becomes incredibly more personal.”

“It’s about working as a team – and that’s something that Dmitri and I do all the time when we go on stage, there are two of us,” Justin shared. “Understanding each other, understanding that there are different ideas, and making it come together as one look… We’ve got experience in that big-scale show work, and how to make that happen in a partnership – I’d say that’s going to be the biggest thing we can probably give.”

Each of the eight teams will produce an artistic five minute hair show at Darling Harbour Theatre at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney over the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend (and on the Sunday night of Hair Expo) in June. Each mentor has nominated a theme for their productions and work is underway.

“The really important thing is to try and make it fun and keep it entertaining – it’s a show… It will be interesting to see how the two groups interpret the theme and where they’re going to take it,” Caterina said. “They’ll both be completely different, but it’s interesting to see what they come up with.”

Fittingly, X Factor present Luke Jacobz will act as MC for the night – artistic hair with a healthy dose of reality show level growth and exposition. We’ll be turning our chairs.

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Images from GenNext 2016