A woman walks into a job change

22 06 2012

My journey as a hair stylist for film began in 1994. I had lived in Wilmington about a year and a half, and I had become friends with an extras casting person in town. One day she called and asked if I would be interested in working on a George Lucas film as one 150 of the back ground people. I had plenty of free time on my hands and I said yes.

The story, RadioLand Murders is a comedy, set in 1939. The premise was a radio show that was performed for a live audience. I would be one of the actresses back stage which required me to work almost every day of the filming.

The first part of this adventure required me to go to a wardrobe warehouse and be fitted for a gown. Despite my protests, the wardrobe folks did not seem at all interested in the fact that green is the worst color in the world for my skin tones. They promptly picked out a Gross Green Gown for me. I complained profusely (in my head) when I learned that I would have to wear the awful thing for the duration of the shoot.

Next stop on my agenda was hair and make-up. I was handed a piece of paper with some pictures of 1930s hairstyles on it along with directions on how to set my hair. Their thinking was that it would help the hair people out if we could replicate anything close to one of these styles on our own and they would put the finishing touches on it. I was fascinated with the process and, suddenly, the dreaded finger waves I struggled with in cosmetology school became valuable.

I showed up to work my first day with crisp finger waves stuck to my head with gobs of hair gel. The hair department girls loved me. They only had to tidy up the curls in the back and I was picture ready.

I quickly learned that being an extra is extremely boring most of the time. Turns out, I had lots of time to watch and be impressed with the skills of these professionals. The magic was happening all around me as the hair, make up and wardrobe all came together to create the illusion of living in 1939. The set designs of the the theater and stage absolutely transformed us in time! It looked just as it would in the 1930s.

I spent every minute hanging with the hair dressers. I would sweep hair, hand them bobby pins, go find the hair nets; whatever they needed. And the whole time I was watching and learning. By the second week, I knew what they were going to need for the person who sat in their chair and would have it in hand by the time they turned around. It was my way of  keeping my mind occupied.

After about 3 weeks, I was offered a job as a hairstylist on the rest of the film. I never gave a thought to doing hair for film and television before then but now, I can not imagine doing anything else. You just never know what crazy turn a life can take sometimes.

And, yes, you can see me (for about 30 seconds)in the gawd awful green gown in this movie. 😉