Aiyana Trotter interview: ‘The Wonder Years’ production designer

“There was a lot of balance in trying to make it feel like someone’s home, but also give it a little bit extra texture so we can tell more about our characters, personalities and their background,” explains production designer Aiyana Trotter about the specific challenges of designing on ABC’s “The Wonder Years” reboot. For our recent Q&A, she adds, “it’s interesting because people homes at that time, there was definitely a lot of the feel of the sixties and the fifties in their homes, but in a way they have much less stuff than we do now. And their walls are often, you know, a lot more bare than what we’d like to see on a television set.” We talked with Trotter as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with 2022 Emmy Awards contenders. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

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“The Wonder Years” is a reimagining of the Emmy-winning late-1980s comedy of the same name. This new version of the coming-of-age comedy classic was developed by Saladin K. Patterson, which premiered on ABC last fall and was renewed for a second season last month. While still set in the late 1960s, this incarnation focuses on the Williams family in suburban Alabama, through the eyes of 12-year-old Dean (Elisha ‘EJ’ Williams), who narrates the show from the future as an adult (voiced by Don Cheadle).

The reboot richly recreates sixties Montgomery with an impressive attention to detail, with Trotter’s production design jumping off the screen as an endearing and nostalgic time capsule for a bygone era of American suburbia. Most of the intricate sets were built from scratch, featuring the plush carpets, intentionally dated wood paneling, textured couches and recliners, and other hodgepodge accoutrement from a typical 1968 American home, but this time with an authentic Southern and especially African-American flavour.

The Williams home in particular is an immersive and homely centerpiece for the show, which the designer reveals was more challenging than she initially anticipated. “One of the challenges of this project is it is a middle-class Black family from Montgomery, Alabama,” she explains. “In that time period, there’s not a lot of specific research on this particular type of family. So, I’m pulling from general resources, but I also worked very hard to find people’s photos, taken in people’s private collections and some work that photo journalists did to try to capture some of the details.”

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UPLOADED Jun 7, 2022 8:17 am