Beyonce and her mom, Tina Knowles are two very spirited women. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting them at a moving and inspirational ribbon cutting ceremony at their new "Beyonce Cosmetology Center" at the Phoenix House Career Academy, a residential substance abuse treatment program in Brooklyn, NY, which offers an array of fully accredited vocational training programs.
Beyonce and her mom first visited Phoenix House in 2007, when Beyonce was researching her role as "Etta James" in the film Cadillac Records. Both Tina (a former hair salon owner) and Beyonce, whose stage appearance reflects her stunning beauty, were shocked that there was no cosmetology training program at the Phoenix House - especially since New York is such a thriving beauty destination and there are about 2.5 million New Yorkers who suffer with addiction issues. They took action and helped create the Beyonce Cosmetology Center.
The seven month program is designed to teach students theory and practical skills required to meet the NYC Cosmetology License Exam. The course covers anatomy and physiology; hair analysis; hair and scalp disorders and diseases, cosmetology chemistry; shampoos, rinses; conditioners and treatments; hair cutting, shaping, styling, chemical restructuring, coloring, and lightening. In addition the course also teaches students about nail care, skin care and makeup skills. After completion of 350 class-hours and a series of tests, students will be eligible to work on real clients.
After an acknowledgement by NYC Mayor, Mayor Bloomberg, Tina fought back tears of joy and shared her personal connection to beauty and cosmetology. Twenty or so years ago, she owned a hair salon in Houston Texas where the family originates. She remembers how much happiness "great hair" brought her clients and she believes that when going through a recovery, making other people feel beautiful helps empower you. And on that note, the Knowles' pledged $100,000 a year for five years to help support it's growth.
Beyonce shared her personal account of growing up in the salon and how all of her mother's clients were her family. "I saw that a salon was a place for women to socialize, share stories, cry, laugh and get advice," she continued about her experiences growing up around a beauty parlor.
In tears, she said, "Most importantly, I saw the joy it brought my mother, knowing she was a part of their transformation." She admired the strength of the men and women who have come to Phoenix House, pointing out the stigma placed on alcohol and drug abuse, and that while none of them chose to be addicts they have all chosen to "get better." A beaming Beyonce thanked everyone for their support and in a heartfelt voice took the podium one more time, "It's a very proud day for me and my mother."
Later, at a private meet and greet, I reminded Beyonce how many lives she was changing. And her response? "It's just the beginning."
To watch a brief clip of the ribbon cutting ceremony got to MTVVideo.