MaCray Huff, 30, always felt a little bored growing up in Virginia and North Carolina, but he knew his talents would one day be his ticket out of the south.
“I always knew I wanted to do hair and used to want to play with my sisters Barbie dolls,” says MaCray. “I got picked on so much as a kid for being who I am and being called gay and a faggot and I really think that drove me to step out and try and be the best I can be.”
As a teen, MaCray dreamed of being on television and being famous, which would change the way people thought about him, regardless of his sexuality. He held onto that faith for years until it was finally realized.
MaCray was born in Martinsville, Va., where he lived through school. Though he loved living near his family, he wanted to spread his wings and leave home.
Enter then MaCray’s move to Greensboro, N.C., some 10 years ago.
“I initially moved to Greensboro for clientele, but work picked up in Virginia, so I commuted back and forth,” says Huff, who loves North Carolina’s nightlife, the weather and shopping.
MaCray’s larger-than-life personality is hard to miss. Whether at Greensboro’s rustic LGBT watering hole The Q Lounge, at dance club Warehouse 29 or any other social gathering, his personality, flair for dressing and voice catch everyone’s attention.
Professionally, MaCray wanted to go further than what he thought North Carolina could offer.
“You know I wanted to move to a big city like New York. Los Angeles was just too far and Chicago seemed like a good spot,” says MaCray, who often commutes between the Windy City and Greensboro, still seeing clients in the Southeast and visiting family.
Soon after landing in Chicago, MaCray was hired by AJ’s Salon, the epicenter of the Style Network’s new reality TV show “Chicagolicious.”
The show takes viewers to the Windy City to follow AJ Johnson whose salon’s clientele includes a bevy of actors and models, including Angela Bassett and Iman.
And, while it sounds cliché, Huff insists going out on a limb is what gave him an edge over others.
“Sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith,” says MaCray, which is exactly what helped manifest taking his life savings and moving to Chicago to pursue his dream of becoming a successful hair stylist.
“Chicagolicious” comes from the creator and executive producers of Style’s number-one hit series “Jerseylicious.” Though the show is still new, producers have already ordered 10 more shows taped due to demand.
Velma Huff, MaCray’s mother, says her son was always a character affecting everyone’s life for the better.
“In high school, I told him he’d be president of the student body,” says Velma. “And you know MaCray was the first African-American president in his high school.”
Even in high school, Velma remembers her son’s special sense of fashion.
“MaCray was always changing his hairstyles and making his own clothes, people really loved to have him around,” she says. “He was always showing out.”
The Dairy Queen was the local hangout when MaCray was in high school, Velma recounts. All his friends wanted him to stop by after school and in true MaCray fashion, nothing happens without his individual pizzazz.
“They would have to sing a special ‘MaCray song’ and then he’d pull over and hang out,” said Velma.
Though Velma was afraid to see her baby boy go to the Windy City, she never wants to hold MaCray back from his dreams.
As far as the Windy City is concerned, MaCray says it has definitely been a transition.
“Going to Chicago was a bit overwhelming. I went from driving a car everywhere to walking, riding the bus and train wherever I have to go, “ he says, hinting that viewers are in for a ride each time they tune into Style Network’s “Chicagolicious.”
“Really the producers caught real moments that are unscripted,” says MaCray. “I think it will be an awesome show and I cannot wait to see it, it’s like a baby to me.”
“Chicagolicious” airs on the Style Network every Monday from 8-9 p.m. Learn more about the show at mystyle.com/tv-shows/chicagolicious/ and more about MaCray at macrayhuff.com. : :
— Victor Lopez is a senior staff writer for The Guilfordian (guilfordian.com), the student newspaper of Greensboro’s Guilford College.