Andrea Bowman (‘Emancipation’ hair department head): ‘The story is so intense, we didn’t want anything to be a distraction’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I was that cheerleader in the trailer to get them motivated, because we start the day early. We’re what I call the heartbeat of the film,” reveals hair department head Andrea Bowman about working on the historical action drama “Emancipation.” For our recent webchat she adds, “when I went to the premiere, I hadn’t seen any of the cast since we wrapped and that’s the first thing they were saying to me: ‘Thank you for being that support system for us to be able to embark on these characters and make us feel like we were special when we left, and we were able to get that stuff off of us to be able to come back the next day and be able to do it all over again.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

SEE Exclusive Video Interview: Ben Foster (‘Emancipation’)

“Emancipation” is directed by Antoine Fuqua from a screenplay by William N. Collage, based on the real-life story of former enslaved man Gordon (named “Peter” in the film) who posed for confronting photographs of his bare back, heavily scarred from the whippings he endured during his time on a plantation in the South. The worldwide outrage that followed the publication of these now-iconic photos in 1863 gave the abolitionist movement proof of the cruelty of American slavery and a rallying cry to end it once and for all. The Apple Original Films drama stars Oscar winner Will Smith (“King Richard”) as Peter, who flees the plantation after being whipped to within an inch of his life, separated from his loving wife Dodienne (Charmaine Bingwa) and their children. He embarks on a torturous journey north through the swamps of Louisiana, outwitting cold-blooded hunters led by the relentless Fassel (Ben Foster), before eventually joining the fight to bring an end to the darkest chapter in American history.

Bowman has learned from her wealth of experience on high-profile projects like HBO’s “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft Country” that hair design needs to be as invisible and seamless, which means being as agile and innovative as possible. “When watching a film I want them to not see hair at all. I want them to see that character. I want it to be so seamless when you’re watching it and all you see is this man running,” she explains. “They’re a character now. All I want you to see is Dodienne and all I want you to see is Peter. That’s our goal, especially on this one. The story is so intense, we didn’t want anything to be a distraction or something that could be taken away from the story.”

The film is now on the Oscar short list announced Wednesday for this category.

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