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Sebastian Professional's What's Next Awards 2017, Winners Announced

Maggie Mulhern | March 5, 2017 | 3:50 PM
clockwise from upper left: Luis Maldonado, Beverly Iwuala, Sabrina Cayer, Laura Rocha
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Marylle Koken presents Twisted
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2017 Instructor Of The Year, Cassandra Saieva
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Hair by Kelsey Ronan
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Tonya Cuozzo (@tonyacuozzo)
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Alisha Jurkevicz (@alishavalen)
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AFFILIATED ARTIST WINNER: Sabrina Cayer (@propagandecoiffure)
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Danielle June (@madamepomp)
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Jaimie-Lee Keyes (@jaimie_kaay)
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Kelsey Ronan (@kelseyjoyhair)
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PROFESSIONAL CATEOGORY WINNER: Laura Rocha (@l_v_r_)
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PEOPLE'S CHOICE WINNER: Luis Maldonado (@luis_maldonado_1)
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STUDENT WINNER: Beverly Iwuala (@beverlyeze)
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 More than 1000 salon pros, friends and family were in Dallas, Texas to cheer on the 9 finalists in the 2017 Sebastian Professional’s WHAT’S NEXT AWARDS (WNA). Professional category finalist Laura Rocha, Affiliated Artist category finalist Sabrina Cayer and Student category finalist Beverly Iwuala were named winners in the competition known for pushing the boundaries of style and artistic creation. A new category, the People’s Choice Award was won by Luis Maldonado of Beyond Salon, Puerto Rico.

The majority of the live competition took place earlier in the evening backstage when judges met each finalist, reviewed each final look and learned more about each process and inspiration. Paula Rufo, Wella Education Associate Manager, says that what makes WNA unique is that the models are selected by lottery the night before the actual live arm of the competition. “But even though this could be stressful, these finalists were working in a relaxed atmosphere. They helped each other throughout. There was a lot of collaboration.”

Once seated, the audience was introduced to the artists via a personalized video and live viewing as the finalists and models took to the stage for a runway presentation. While the votes were tabulated, Sebastian Professional International Top Artists Diva Poulos, Omar Antonio, Marylle Koken and Anthony Cole, took over and delivered a series of exciting and inspiring presentations.  The recently launched Re-Charge collection and the soon-to-be introduced Twisted collection were offered through dozens of varied looks, designed to be interpreted for clients with all textures and lengths of hair.

2017 marks the fifth anniversary of the What’s Next Awards, a competition that encourages new and established artists to create revolutionary hair fashion through technical skill and strong styling ability. The artists in Dallas were made up of stylists from United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. “There has been such a wonderful evolution since the competition began,” says Carole Protat, ‎North America Creative Director Wella after announcing that there were almost 1000 entries this year. “WNA offers an amazing showcase and platform to hairdressers. This year the quality is out of this world.” Christina McCarver, North America Director of Education for Sebastian Professional, adds, “This is a labor of love for all and has allowed us to connect with so many stylists. This is challenging for the competitors, and the finalists are extremely accomplished.” To celebrate the  accomplishments of the next generation of salon professionals, a special award was created and presented to the 2017 Instructor Of The Year, Cassandra Saieva.

The competition was judged by industry insiders and former WNA winners including Robert Lobetta, 2016 Affiliated Artist WNA winner Gianpaolo Colombo and 2016 Professional Artist WNA winner Damaris Earlewine.

The prizes were worth the effort:

Student: $1,000 cash prize, editorial photo shoot and a stylist starter kit valued at more than $1000 including GHD styling tools.

Professional:  $1,000 cash prize, GHD styling tools, editorial photo shoot and an all-inclusive trip to NYC to assist backstage at NY Fashion Week.

Affiliated Artist: $1,000 cash prize, GHD styling tools, editorial photoshoot and an all-inclusive creative day of mentorship with top Sebastian artist in Los Angeles. 

Once the winners were announced, the night wrapped up with a live performance from hard-rock trio, Sixx:A.M. with Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and James Michael. 

The What’s Next Awards is more than a competition, a prize and entertainment. “The What’s Next Awards, and competitions in general, are about the people and are important to this industry,” Sal Maurceri, ‎Senior Vice President North America Professional Beauty and Global Nail at Coty Beauty - ‎Coty Inc. told MODERN at the beginning of the awards ceremony. “They make artists better, both individually and collectively, at the craft of hairdressing. Isn’t that what it’s all about?"

Paul Rufo introduces all the finalists just hours before the competition:

Anthony Cole chats with Sebastian artists as they prep for WNA:

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