New Faces: Libby Christensen

With a passion for hair, a drive to write, and an endearing Scottish accent, 65-year-old Libby Christensen is becoming a Garden State celebrity.

Christensen left the chaos of Paisley, Scotland, in 1964 with an aspiration to style hair. “I was married and moved by my husband’s family,” says Christensen. Newark became the launching pad for her new beginning. Christensen found work as a demonstration hair stylist and eventually opened her own salon in Kearny. One afternoon, Newark’s own Connie Francis dropped in. “I couldn’t believe Connie Francis came into my little Jersey salon,” says Christensen. She became Francis’s personal hairdresser, traveling the world with the singer for 25 years. Christensen also opened a new salon in Maplewood.

In 2002, the New York Times featured Christensen and her Maplewood salon in an article titled, “My Job; A Lifetime of Making Split Ends Meet.” That triggered Christensen’s writing bug.  “I realized I had an interesting story,” she says, “so I just started writing.”

Christensen had no writing experience so she reached out to friend and client Gila Zalon of West Orange, winner of a New Jersey Director’s Choice award for her film “Dream House.” Together they wrote a screenplay titled “Split Ends,” a romantic comedy based on Christensen’s true-life adventures in the hair trade. “If you’ve got split ends in your life,” says Christensen, “you’ve got to cut them off.”

Split Ends” was shot on location this summer in Clifton, Maplewood, and South Orange with a production crew entirely from New Jersey. The cast includes Lawton Paseka of Scotch Plains; South Orange resident Peter McRobbie, who played the father in the Oscar-winning “Brokeback Mountain”; and Vincent Pastore, famed as the mobster Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero in “The Sopranos.”

“I was always a story teller,” says Christensen, “but never did I think my story would be made into a movie!”

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