Carol Ramsey Q&A: ‘When We Rise’ costume designer
“It really just begins with a lot of research,” divulges costume designer Carol Ramsey as we chat via webcam (watch above) about her work on the ABC limited series “When We Rise.” “It’s one of the most fun things about doing a project,” she adds, “really diving into that world.” The costumer was tasked with recreating over four decades of period clothing for this ambitious retelling of the gay rights movement in America, from 1972 through 2013. Created by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”), the series features a large ensemble cast, including Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Michael Kenneth Black, David Hyde Pierce, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rosie O’Donnell.
As Ramsey explains, “The overall consensus was that we wanted it to be very realistic.” The designs needed to be, “true to the period,” as well as, “faithful to the characters that we were portraying.” Ramsey was able to bring personal experience to her designs in the series pilot, directed by “Milk” helmer Gus Van Sant. “The first two hours was all 1972 San Francisco, and I happened to be in San Francisco in 1972 playing music on the street with my friends. So I really knew that era, I knew the period, and I knew what people were wearing.”
Ramsey is a 30 year veteran of both film and television. She has worked on titles as diverse as “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge” (1990), “Bad Boys II” (2003), and the Ryan Murphy series “Popular.” She reaped a Costume Designers Guild Award bid in the Period/Fantasy Television category for the TV Movie “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis” (2000). Is her first Emmy nomination next? Check out our full interview above for more about her work on “When We Rise.”