A sixth generation master braider and wig designer,  Joyce Ward learned the art from her grandmother at age 9, and it has since taken her around the globe, from the salons of LA to the fashion shows of Milan. Now on the Gulf Coast, her work graces stages from Venice to Bradenton, including designing 44 wigs for Venice Theatre’s 2018 production of Dreamgirls and an ongoing relationship with Florida Studio Theatre that includes this month’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. And as founder of the nonprofit Caring Hair Foundation, Ward brings her skills to bear for women and children losing their hair due to illness or treatments such as chemotherapy. Using the individual’s own hair whenever feasible, Ward crafts custom wigs that look and feel as natural as possible. “The hair on our head is sacred,” says Ward. “It’s connected to our self-esteem; it’s connected to who we are. And if there’s any healing, it has to be part of the whole body.” 

PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.