Hollywood heavyweights and the Atlanta beauty community alike are mourning the death of Emmy-nominated hairstylist Charles Gregory Ross, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19 weeks after announcing his diagnosis on March 25, when he warned others to take the pandemic seriously.
Ross, a veteran hair and makeup expert who, in addition to owning the popular Charles Gregory Blow Dry and Beauty Bar in Atlanta’s Buckhead community and acting as former artistic director for Mizani/Softsheen, also worked on memorable productions like Remember the Titans, Drumline, Lackawanna Blues, Idlewild, Survivor’s Remorse, the Academy Award-winning Vice, and many more, earning him the fond moniker of “the renowned.” Most recently, Ross was the hair department head on the upcoming films Zola and Lee Daniels’ The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
Daniels’ was among many celebrity tributes—including condolences from Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, and Ava DuVernay—that have poured in upon news of Ross’ death. The writer/producer/director shared an endearing anecdote about the “BRILLIANT” hairstylist on the set of The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
“Whenever l complained about anyone’s hair he’d say “lemme just slap some grease on it.. it’ll be ok”! 😂...and it was!!!”
Fellow hairstylist Kim Kimble was Ross’ partner in hair design for the film and commemorated her friend and colleague in what she admitted was “a hard post to write,” saying “Nothing but respect.”
Actress-producer Viola Davis also memorialized the artist, who was well known for his flawless wig work, on Instagram, writing: “RIP Charles Gregory. He did my hair for the Academy Awards, Lila and Eve and Madea Goes to Jail...Rest well. May God’s peace be with your family. You were a jewel.”
Tyler Perry, for whom Ross was a crew member on countless TPS productions, also trusted the artist to transform him into Colin Powell for 2018's Vice. In addition to recalling Ross as “warm, loving and hilarious,” Perry, who has been heavily engaged in philanthropy during the COVID-19 crisis, also used his massive platform to echo Ross’ warning, urging the black community to take the pandemic seriously, protect themselves and remain vigilant in the face of a disease that is disproportionately infecting and killing us, writing:
While everyone can contract this virus it is black people who are dying from it in much larger numbers. This thing is real, black people.
I heard a black person say, “Black people don’t get it.” That is a lie! You can get it, and you will get it if we don’t do what we’re being told to do.
A 26 year old black woman died the other day, a 44 year old black man died the other day, not to mention the hundreds of people that are dying every few minutes. Your age does not matter!! Your health does not matter. You could be totally healthy, and you could die!
Now listen to me. You have been right by my side since I started in this business, so please hear me with your heart. I LOVE US. I love our humor. I love our culture. I love our hair. I love our skin. I love everything about who we are. All of us. And I love us all too much to watch us die on the vine because we are the last to know and we are not taking this pandemic seriously.
Black people, we are at a disproportionately higher risk of dying from this virus. Please, please, please, I beg you to take this seriously. You have to socially distance yourself. That means stop hanging out, stop congregating, stop doing anything that will put not only your life in danger but also the lives of so many others.
STAY HOME!! Socially distance yourself and stay alive! If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for someone you love, and for those who love you.
Lastly, Tichina Arnold, who both worked closely with Ross on Survivor’s Remorse and considered him a close friend, paid tribute to the artist and the others we are losing daily to the coronavirus with an emotional a capella rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer,” writing: “It makes you feel so helpless. It hurts..but we MUST not give up. We must keep fighting. Keep praying.”
Our thoughts are with Ross’ family and friends. May “The Renowned” rest in power.