It’s official: Sandy Poirier is the inaugural winner of “American Beauty Star.” Poirier, owner of the South Boston hair salon Shag, won the first season of the Lifetime reality show Thursday night, earning a $50,000 grand prize and a spot on a future Teen Vogue editorial shoot.
“It feels overwhelming [and] surreal, and I hope I represent the ‘American Beauty Star’ brand to the best of my ability,” Poirier told us.
Though a few of the other competitors had Poirier worried, the hirsute stylist says he wasn’t surprised by his win. “They wanted someone who could represent the ‘American Beauty Star’ brand on all levels — what you did, how you acted, if you dealt well under pressure, how you talked to judges,” he said. “I’m the whole package — not to pat myself on the back, but I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
Poirier joins a not-so-long list of locals who’ve fared well on reality shows. By our (unofficial) count, three “American Idol” finalists have been from the Bay State — Siobhan Magnus, Angie Miller, and Sonika Vaid — and then there’s Chris Luca and Alex Boylan, the Boston boys who won season 2 of “The Amazing Race,” and, of course, “Boston Rob” Mariano, who walked away with $1 million as winner of “Survivor: Redemption Island.”
Poirier said he was especially proud of his work on the “American Beauty Star” episode that asked contestants to tackle a social or political theme. The inspiration for Poirier’s anti-bullying look came from his own childhood. “I was bullied as a kid, even though I look like someone who would bully someone,” he said with a laugh. “It was something only a few people knew about.”
After that episode, Poirier was flooded with messages on social media from victims of bullying who’d been affected by his work.
“It was such an overwhelming feeling, people reaching out, saying you helped them,” he says. “I’m glad I got my message across, and I’m glad people received it. To me, that made it all worthwhile.”
According to Poirier, he was bullied constantly by the other contestants on the show, but he tried to maintain his composure. He said the only contestant who didn’t harass him — and the only one he’s kept in touch with — is Los Angeles makeup artist and fellow finalist Andrew Velasquez. “[Andrew] said, ‘Sandy, I apologize to you for not coming to your defense or saying enough is enough,’ ” says Poirier.
Things are sure to change at Shag now that its owner is a reality show champ, but Poirier says it’s too early to say what that change may look like. “I’m taking my time, not rushing into anything, not making any bad decisions,” he says. “I’m not going to be the typical person and just commercialize myself because I won something.”