In our Spring edition, we had the honor of sitting down with some of the most exciting women in media to talk about their career paths, personal growth, and transition to Nashville. We noticed just how many of these extraordinary women have relocated to Nashville in recent years, either continuing in their roles remotely or picking up something entirely different. It left us wondering — why here?
Bonnie’s career path has been filled with unforgettable moments — from David Beckham hopping into her Honda Accord while she worked as Ellen’s Senior Talent Booker to opening both of her Drybar locations. Today, she’s happily helping the women of Music City have a great hair day, every day.
On Her Career
TNE: What were some parts of your job with Ellen that people may not expect?
BW: People who have not worked in entertainment tend to glamorize the industry life & job. While my decade at Ellen was a huge honor, I worked my butt off to earn every promotion and pay increase. With Ellen being a gay female, there was a level of inclusion that is rare and hard to find at many places. I have so many friends who fought and continue to fight for respect and equal pay. At Ellen, I never felt that way. With unwavering hard work, respect and equal pay came in due time. I try to manage Drybar with the same open mind.
TNE: Which celebrity was most exciting to meet?
BW: Prince- at his house for his record release party for 3121. This was during my time at Entertainment Tonight and host, Kevin Frazier, called me and told me to meet him at Doheny/Sunset in one hour. What a surprise when I jump in his car and pull up at Prince’s house for an insane live concert and night!
TNE: Best ways to beat a mental block?
BW: A good sweat – CorePower Yoga tends to help me with everything!
TNE: Why did you want to shift your career to Drybar?
BW: With so much unexpected work travel, I had a very hard time making connections and building friendships in Nashville. I’ve always wanted to be a business owner and had been reading about franchising for years in entrepreneur magazines. I was looking for a hole in the market & was so shocked Drybar wasn’t here already. I curiously looked on Drybar’s website and saw that they were franchising. Two years later, Drybar Nashville at Capitol view opened.
TNE: What has your new role at Drybar taught you?
BW: There was a time where I considered going back to school to get my MBA. Being a business owner and Franchisee at Drybar has taught me an incredible amount about business, tuition-free.
TNE: What has your career path taught you about yourself?
BW: I think about mentors that I’ve had throughout my career and constantly remember the advice they’ve given me or traits that I’ve wanted to possess myself. I am now realizing that I am that person to so many other people. What a huge honor!
TNE: What advice would you in the present tell yourself when you were working in television?
BW: Don’t stress. These skills and life lessons are preparing you for anything you want to do in the future!
TNE: What advice from others has helped you most along the way?
BW: Ellen’s Executive Producer, Ed Glavin, always reminded me to “DREAM BIG,” which was a theme that trickled down from Ellen herself. I think about him and his advice daily. It keeps me thinking about the big picture, which can be difficult immersed in the day-to-day operations of a business. Jesus in Matthew “be wise as a serpent, and innocent as a dove.” This keeps me on guard, while always trying to do the right thing.
TNE: What’s been the proudest moment in your career?
BW: A large part of my job as Director of Branded Content and Partnerships was supporting the show financially. The show dreamed up the idea to launch Season 12 from New York City, so my team was tasked with finding a brand to support that vision. I built a proposal, flew to San Francisco, pitched it to Visa in a conference room located in Oracle Park, negotiated a contract and months later, the entire production produced the most amazing shows from Rockefeller Center with Hilary Clinton, Justin Bieber, a performance by P!nk, and Jimmy Fallon!
TNE: What comes next?
BW: I’m on the entrepreneurial path and Drybar is my #1 focus right now. However, I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a final destination. My hope is that a profitable business can be born with some of these incredible women I’ve met in Nashville!
Her Everyday Essentials
TNE: What’s the most random item you keep on you “just in case?”
BW: I am often guilty of having 10+ tubes of lipstick in my purse at any given time.
TNE: What are some travel essentials you couldn’t live without?
BW: My Nalgene water bottle is essential. I also love that the re-useable bottle saves money and reduces plastic waste on any trip!
TNE: What does a power outfit look like to you?
BW: Anything black, leather, and a pop of color on your lip.
TNE: Best hair tricks for someone on the go?
BW: My love of Drybar turned into an obsession as a result of my commute back and forth from Nashville to Los Angeles. There is nothing better than packing light and getting a blowout in the morning before a big presentation or meeting. From there, all you need is a can of Triple Sec, our 3-in-one spray to refresh, to add texture and volume for the next couple of days.
TNE: What items are you most excited to wear this Spring/Summer?
BW: I can barely wait to wear two pieces I scored at the UAL’s warehouse sale this winter. A Lela Rose striped dress originally $3,695 that I purchased for $100 and a Cushine Et Ochs one-shoulder white jumpsuit that I scored for $50, originally $1595.
TNE: What’s your guilty pleasure TV or Netflix series?
BW: Better Call Saul is my favorite show currently airing new episodes. My guilty pleasure is The Bachelor although this Pilot Pete is driving me insane!
TNE: Best trick you’ve picked up to be camera-ready?
BW: You’re never fully dressed without a smile
On Life in Nashville
TNE: What made you want to relocate to Nashville?
BW: I am from Vicksburg, Mississippi and my husband Jesse Willoughby (GM of Kobalt Music) is from Nashville, born and raised. We decided to move closer to our families.
TNE: What has been your favorite aspect of living here?
BW: My favorite part is the ease of getting around the city. When timed correctly, you can get from one side of town to the other rather quickly.
TNE: Where are your favorite places to shop around town?
BW: The Showroom is my go-to place to rent dresses or a beautiful jumpsuit. UAL and Emerson Grace are my two favorite places to shop for clothing/shoes.
TNE: Has the food been better here or there? Be honest.
BW: Los Angeles, 110%
On Work-Life Balance
TNE: Favorite ways to work out to stay healthy and energized?
BW: Meal prepping, CorePower Yoga, and quality time with my husband.
TNE: What are the best ways to start and end your day?
BW: I start and end my day with a big glass of water and when I’m lucky enough, a few deep breaths.
TNE: What’s your go-to “treat yourself” moment?
BW: A trip to UAL or a deep tissue massage.