Local 706 - The Artisan

Spring 2017

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33 25 OK … pretend I've been living under a rock for the past few years and never heard of Empire. Tell me, from a make- up and hair point of view, what is the show about? Missy: It's about a family that started out with Cookie and Lucious Lyon getting together, having kids, selling drugs and turning the business into a hip-hop Empire, a recording label that eventually ends up representing all types of singers and any type of music. Which means that you both get to create a lot of different looks on a lot of different characters. Bev Jo: Yes and along with that comes all the scandals that take us through all the stages of flashbacks from their child- hood love affair to when the children were little and Cookie had to serve 17 years in jail for selling drugs and now she is out and back to claim her place in the company and with all of the people in the music scene around them. Well, that must be a hair and make-up challenge making them look that young? Bev Jo: You know, we have young actors playing them when necessary. Taraji looks so young, however, sometimes it was a make-up and hair challenge time-wise for us to bring Cookie in-and-out of those flashbacks and into a current- day look on a tight schedule. I usually try to keep the make- up changes minimal to lips and eyes depending on what she is wearing. It is a team effort. It is very important that everyone, including the background actors, look the part. The show runner, Sanaa Hamri, is very hands-on and has to approve everything. We all work together. Without the team, none of this stuff could work. We have so many principal actors to take care of. Is Cookie the creation of the make-up, hair and costumes? Missy: On the pilot, we did a flashback using a Mary J. Blige blonde bob wig, then switched her to a ponytail. We might have changed her four times in a day. That is what Cookie is all about. I only use wigs for her now. I have 3-4 wigs prepped and ready to go at all times. And now that we have scenes with a teen named Laritha (Cookie's real name) and her family members, we have even more wigs to prep. A wig application usually takes me 15-20 minutes. Bev Jo: The costume designer usually shows us in advance what he has in mind and along with Taraji's input, we co- created this character that has now become a trending icon featured in magazines and department store collections. What has been your favorite Cookie look? Missy: I like all of Cookie's hair looks but the one I really like right now is a long straight wig parted in the middle that she works the heck out of. We have nicknames for the wigs. The costume designer will now request them by names like the Marilyn Monroe or the Cher. How is Terrence to work with? Missy: Terrence is great. I did King of the World and The Best Man Holiday with him when we were in our 20s. He's an amazing and interesting guy. He does the role. He plays that Lucious role. Terrence likes to wear an old school 'conched' look and sometimes changes his mind in a heartbeat and it won't match continuity, but we always make it work and they write certain things into the scripts to make it work. We even used conditioner in a scene to make it look like he was relaxing his hair. He would say, "I still like my perm." He would decide he wants to cut his hair short and we would have no choice but to pull a wig out or he would want cornrows for a scene or this other wig with a little (what I called a doo-doo bug) ponytail in the back. I took a lace Afro-wig and relaxed it to create that one. No one knew he was wearing a wig! Bev Jo: He loves us and we just know how to work with him. I've worked with him before though not quite as long Left to right: Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and Bryshere Y. Gray Photos courtesy of FOX

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