“Saturday Night Live” hairstylist Jodi Mancuso already faces the challenge of styling dozens of wigs every episode, but the COVID restrictions presented a whole new level of difficulty this year. Mancuso and her hair team are typically able to immediately surround cast members backstage to change out their wigs for the next sketch, but with social distancing, team members could only approach the cast individually. Their hard work paid off, with the team earning an Emmy nomination for Best Variety Hairstyling. “I have a lot of pride in this Emmy nomination,” says Mancuso in an exclusive new webchat for Gold Derby. “This year was even more challenging for a live show.” Watch the full interview above.
The toughest part of the season for Mancuso was the first six episodes, which were filmed over the course of six consecutive Saturdays. Not only was it a grueling time, with the hairstylist noting that “SNL” has never done four live shows in a row, but the emotions were high due to the 2020 election. “It was really difficult, quite honestly, emotionally and physically, and then trying to get these wigs done, and you didn’t know what political person you were gonna do,” admits Mancuso. “By the fifth show, you’re just hoping that everybody can hold it together and you still have your creativeness.”
Mancuso has submitted the Maya Rudolph-hosted episode to Emmy voters, which is a full demonstration of her team’s extensive work for the show. The episode features a Beyonce sketch, a sketch where Rudolph plays Kamala Harris alongside other real-life political figures, and numerous original character pieces. “She can wear anything and we know her so well,” explains Mancuso. “You can put any color on her and she never questions anything. She’s so easy and she really wears a wig.” She adds that sometimes, a wig wears a host more than a host wears a wig, but Rudolph always finds a way to make it work. “That’s what’s so great about Maya.”
It has been almost 20 years since Mancuso first joined “SNL,” and she has seen many cast members come and go. She still has fond memories of working with performers like Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen, who she also worked with on “Portlandia.” But there is one cast member who will always have a special place in her heart: Kenan Thompson. “He’s just the perfect gentleman,” she praises. “He is truly an angel; we love him.”
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