Karyn Wagner Q&A: ‘Underground’ costume designer
“I think one of the most important ways that this show is successful is that the characters are all self-determining,” divulges costume designer Karyn Wagner as we chat via webcam (watch the exclusive video above) about “Underground.” “Everybody is taking responsibility for their life and their history, and making the most successful venture of that that they can.” This WGN America series recounts the beginnings of the Underground Railroad, a secret network of paths and safe houses for escaped slaves in the Antebellum South. The ensemble cast includes Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller, Amirah Vann, and Christopher Meloni.
One of the major changes this season was the addition of Harriet Tubman, a pioneering engineer of the Underground Railroad. Recreating Tubman was difficult because, “There’s maybe four or five existent photographs of her at all, and maybe one or two from our time period.” Wagner therefore, “kind of designed from my gut.” Once she realized Aisha Hinds had been cast in the role, it made the task much easier. “She’s such a strong, wonderful woman to begin with, that I really designed for her as well as representing Harriet Tubman.”
Wagner is a veteran costume designer of both film and television. She has amassed credits on titles as diverse as “Eve’s Bayou” (1997), “The Green Mile” (1999), “The Notebook” (2004), and TV shows like “Friday Night Lights” and “Preacher.” Check out our full interview above for more about her work on “Underground.”