Baltimore is synonymous with many things— crime, violence, the Orioles, the Ravens, crab cakes, and even a chicken box, and a half and half, but not for Emmys. That is until now.
Actually, allow me to digress for a moment to clarify. There have been a few other Emmy awards out of Baltimore but it’s rare and certainly no one I have ever known personally, so excuse my bias. Now, for those who may not know, an Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is a trophy given for excellence in the television industry.
Let me introduce you to the always pleasant and effervescent Tene Wilder. She was born and raised in Baltimore. She attended Milford Mill High and after graduating, pursued with earnest a career in the coiffeuse industry.
Wilder started out at age 13 doing hair out of the basement in her mom’s house. Most of her clients were friends and associates from religious services on weekends. Her mother noticed her passion and skills and encouraged her to go after her dream of one day owning a salon of her own. In fact, she credits God and her mother for any successes she may have achieved.
I met Wilder about twelve years ago when she was the proud owner of “The Wilder Experience,” a hair salon located on Calvert Street in midtown Baltimore. As soon as you entered the establishment you could tell something special was impending. From the chic artwork that donned the walls to the ultra-modern furnishings that completed the ambience, every client felt as though they were reveling in an experience versus just getting their hair done.
When Wilder owned the salon, she was also a part of a Local 798 Hair and Makeup Union, which afforded her opportunities to do other things related to the beauty industry. About four years ago she decided to transition and explore some business opportunities in New York. “It changed my life,” Wilder exclaimed.
In New York, she was offered the opportunity to work behind the scenes in the television show “Pose,” and began her journey to an Emmy. She works with a team on the show and she says when she met them, “it was like home.” “It was a pleasure being a stylist on the show— that world is so— it’s beautiful. This is probably the best job I’ve ever worked on— by far!” Wilder said. “It also brought my vision to light too.”
Wilder won the Emmy for Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling. What an outstanding accomplishment for anyone, let alone someone from such humble beginnings— a little girl from Baltimore. When asked where she envisions herself five years from now and if she is satisfied with where she is now, her reply in typical Baltimore lingo— “No…I got an Oscar to get!”
Wilder’s fervent desire is to help change the world so that women of color can be seen for their talent.