By: Colleen Monroe
With lightning speed, veteran Hair Department Head, Terrie Velazquez-Owen, can transform purple dreadlocks into an elegant updo fit for a presidential meeting in the West Wing.
From Veep, to Parks and Recreation, to Mad Men, Terrie uses wigs, sprays, combs, blow dryers, and an array of other tools to masterfully transform actors into the memorable characters we connect with episode after episode.
Before beginning any project, Terrie meets with the director and then begins an important collaboration with the costume and makeup departments:
“I can’t do my job without either of those two departments. The clothing really dictates the direction of the hair. Because if someone is dressed in an elegant, fashion-forward gown you have to style for that or else it doesn’t make sense. It’s all about creating a cohesive look.”
This is where SyncOnSet proves pivotal for Terrie and her crew. The costume department will upload fitting pictures with description and then share them with Terrie who can easily reference them to match the hair to the outfit. This is especially helpful for period shows where hair and costumes must go seamlessly together.
Let’s jump into a day on set with Terrie!
Mornings begin with prepping the hair and skin for Julia Louis-Dreyfus who plays the Vice President in Veep. Terrie puts her in a full lace front wig for a perfectly put-together look to compliment her pristine wardrobe of Gucci and Prada.
Terrie sits with the DP next to the monitors, analyzing for flyaway hairs. She also watches the way the lighting hits Julia to ensure her wig looks dimensional on camera. If her hair appears flat from the lighting angle, Terrie will give suggested notes to the DP who will make adjustments.
Julia’s character needs to look flawless at all times.
Working with wigs is no easy task because they are three-dimensional objects and run the risk of looking fake. Given Terrie’s background in theater, she has it mastered to the point that no one even realizes that Julia is wearing a wig!
Terrie has a close working relationship with one of the top wig makers in the industry, Natasha Ladek, who creates for her hand tied wigs using techniques that follow the natural patterns of human hair.
Today, Terrie and her team are styling background for a Nobel Peace Prize scene with ambassadors from around the world. Elegant individuals of all races will need to be ethnically correct.
Yesterday, Terrie sent out a detailed email to her team of stylists assigning specific background actors with descriptions, inspiration for their looks, and costume choices through SyncOnSet.
Terrie and her Point Stylist single out certain actors that may need grooming attention to match the style of this particular scene. Knowing who is coming in beforehand gives her team time to prep and schedule haircuts to stay on schedule.
“SyncOnSet is making the movie industry more eco-friendly”
Throughout filming, Terrie’s team is taking continuity photos and uploading them to SyncOnSet for future reference when they will have to re-create these looks again, often with new stylists coming in as day players.
Terrie loves the ease of using SyncOnSet for continuity and collaborating:
“We aren’t killing so many trees for every production in terms of ink, paper, and toner. And on top of that, think about all the plastic folders and inserts used! SyncOnSet is making the movie industry more eco-friendly. Some productions spend around $1,200 dollars a week for printing continuity books — just for hair department! Afterward, the books just sit in a warehouse.”
Cleanliness and organization are pivotal for her job. Terrie refers to herself as “a little bit of a neat freak.” She wipes down everything at the end of the day and ensures supplies are put back into kits.
She says, “not having visual clutter around keeps my mind clear so you can be creative in the midst of a busy schedule.”
How did Terrie get into the business?
Terrie first started in a celebrity salon in LA where producers and directors frequented. One day, a client asked Terrie if she wanted to be part of the Broadway show, 42nd Street, working with a huge supply of wigs. Terrie quickly jumped at the opportunity, despite not having any background in wigs, but was familiar with the time period having had experience in working at a costume house.
Seeing Terrie struggle during her first week on the production, the director brought a wig mentor out from New York for two weeks to train Terrie on the job.
Using all that she learned, Terrie ended up touring with 42nd Street and continued to design for additional Broadway shows. Terrie then moved on to the TV world, but she credits her background in theater as giving her the craftsmanship that she draws upon for her job today.
“Say ‘YES’ to everything, even the free stuff because you’ll never know where it leads to…”
- “Say ‘YES’ to everything, even the free stuff because you’ll never know where it leads to…”
- “Never stop learning! A lot of stylists come from salon work, but they haven’t learned the craft of wigs, especially lace front wigs, and time period hair styling. Cosmetology programs are no longer teaching roller sets. What a mistake! Once you get into the union, take advantage of the historical hair styling classes. I used to practice on mannequins and makeup on myself. Watching it is one thing– but the practical part is another thing. You need to build muscle memory.”
- “I love being inspired by other stylists from different industries, like fashion and editorial. They have different sensibilities, such as:”
To stay up-to-date on Terrie’s stylist journey, follow her on Instagram: @hair_terrie