“It’s meant so much to me on, on a professional level and a personal level,” declares Sherri Berman Laurence about her experience as makeup designer for FX’s “Pose.” The Emmy-winning series about ballroom culture in New York during the height of the AIDS crisis is currently airing its final season. Laurence, who won Emmys for her makeup work on “The Normal Heart” (2014) and “Fosse/Verdon” (2019), spoke with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above) about the show’s farewell season, working series co-creator and executive producer Ryan Murphy, and how the show has changed her life both professionally and personally.
Among the highlights from this season, Laurence is particularly proud of a ball scene in the season’s third episode “The Trunk.” Laurence says that the “Once Upon a Time” theme of the ball came from Murphy himself — and with only about a week’s notice. “My eyes got really big,” she recalls. The final looks — with homages to Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White– took hours of painstaking work to assemble. “We handmade all of those face appliques and sat there with a glue gun,” describes Laurence. “That was amazing, and so quick. I’ll never forget that.”
Because the final season starring Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez also deals with the impact of the AIDS on the ballroom community, the technical and emotional challenges of bringing the impacts of the disease to life were front and center for Laurence. “We showed a lot of protests and several people throughout the season with AIDS either with prosthetics or painting them and using transfers to make them more gaunt,” she says. “There’s just so many different parts ‘Pose’ that are the dark side of what trans women dealt with and the LGBTQ+ community dealt with then. So yeah, it’s difficult.”
Laurence came into “Pose” knowing little about ballroom culture, but loved the challenge of working in such a creative atmosphere. “They all have very specific looks,” she explains. “So it was always fun designing what their style was for the season.” Laurence says that she show taught her a great deal about not ballroom but the trans community in general, a community she thought she understood. “I learned on a different level and I learned how to be an ally,” she says. “I learned a lot about myself and my place in this world.”
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