One and 100: Dan Forest, hairstylist
This story is part of the special project "One and 100: One pandemic uprooted our lives. One hundred stories tell its impact on the South."
It's a typical day at Beverly Hills One Day Spa in Alexandria, Louisiana.
But what is typical anymore, asks hairstylist Dan Forest, 61, who lives in Gardner with sister Janet Forest and next to their mother Maxine Forest.
While cutting Matt Henry's hair, they talk about the Fall Art Walk and Henry's daughter, Claudia Henry, who is on Louisiana State University's homecoming court.
As he frosts Leah Price's hair, she listens intently as he tells her about two movies on which he will be working. Forest is also an actor and makeup director.
But even the conversations with them are interspersed with talk of COVID, vaccines, masks and the politics around them.
Forest wears a mask to greet all his clients who walk into the salon.
He knows people who had COVID and others who died from it.
His value system has shifted and he prioritizes the health of his family and friends with his main concern being his mother.
Like a majority of his clients, he has been vaccinated
"I have one or two clients who are not vaccinated," he said. "They absolutely have to wear a mask at all times. I keep mine on as well."
The salon is open three days a week whereas before the pandemic it was open five. But he's booked solid on those days. The reduced days suit him since it frees him up to do other things like work with his theatre group, The Unusual Suspects.
Being a high-profile local personality, he's been asked by people on social media if they should wear masks or get vaccinated. He tells them they should. But, he also says that they should talk to their health care providers about the vaccine
Forest is aware of his influence, therefore feels he has a responsibility to do the right thing.
"We touch people in more ways than we realize," he said.
On his personal Facebook page, he's been outspoken in support of masks and vaccines. Because of this, he has received both praise and backlash.
Has that lost him, clients?
"I suspect there are a couple of clients that did stop coming to me because of that, but you know what? In the greater good, I'm willing to make that sacrifice," he said.
One and 100: Click above to read more stories about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the South.