Preciously Behind the scenes…
written by NZINGHA for ZFACEINC,nyc
My journey to PRECIOUS began in 1996 with the Novel written by Author and Poet Sapphire. I lived in downtown Brooklyn at the time and was part of a group of intellectual neo soulers that were setting the entertainment industry on its ear with our voices and visions. We were the soundtrack to the new black aesthetic, sight and sound. We were this generations hope of a new Black Renaissance. I hand no idea how much I would really be a part of this new movement in Art.
Doors were now being opened to African American/African Caribbean story tellers. Modern authors like Terry McMillan(Waiting to Exhale), Walter Mosely(Devil In The Blue Dress), Sista Souljah(The Coldest Winter Ever, yet to be adapted), then Sapphire (PUSH) with her stirring in your face novel, people indeed were experiencing a new “Black Literary Renaissance”.
Despite the mainstream media ballyhoo and irreverence, Black writing was and is experiencing a renaissance. And if it was taking place in the literary world we would surely eventually see it make it’s way to Hollywood.
“They decide what is hailed and what is dismissed.They say what is produced and what will never be. They choose the superstars. They tell us what is literature.They select who will be idolized and followed.”
~ Amiri Baraka, a professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Spike Lee, John Singleton, Robert Townsend, the Wayans Brothers and the Hudlin Brothers were popular and were becoming the mainstream voices for African American cinema.
This book, this little book that only has 192 pages had so much impact on me that I wasn’t right for days! I was on a promo tour while reading it. I had to put it down at several points because it made me nauseous. It stirred up a lot of questions and feelings. I recall being furious at this reading, furious at Sapphire for writing it and writing it that way, furious for Precious who oddly was a hero in the midst of chaos and unprotected and violated by those who were supposed to love and protect her. I was furious at illiteracy, at those who lack compassion, furious with every character that came into contact with Precious in both good and bad ways.
In essence the title of the book was appropriate…PUSH! Push you to the brink of making a life choice in my mind. A choice to be a help or a hinderance. Help those for whom this is their personal story and are a “walking wounded”. Help for those who are functioning illiterate, help for those who have never seen, heard or experienced what transpired in the book to understand, have compassion and help.
I began doing more volunteer work whoever my busy schedule would allow. It made me a more gracious Artist remembering everyone has a story and has come from someplace.
This indeed was someone’s no many people’s untold story…
This story’s characters reminded me of a film I saw Starring Sidney Portier, Elizabeth Hartman and Shelly Winters made in 1965 called “A Patch of Blue”. Back then films of this nature were marketed and handled very differently. The stories scenario is different but the nature of abuse, cruelty, ignorance, illiteracy and redemption in both PRECIOUS and A Patch Of Blue are the same.
“A Patch Of Blue Trailer” http://youtu.be/2f64hh6k8jc
Many people focused on the films mild subject of integration negating the even bigger subject matter of family abuse and negligence, rape, and alcoholism. By today’s standards Roseanne and Opah would both be reported to the Bureau of Child Welfare for their abuse of Selina.
Like Precious, Selina had much to contend with in her horrid home life and yet, in the midst of the chaos come a loving and helpful individual in Sidney Poitiers character Gordon. Like Gordon is to Selina so is Ms. Rain to Precious…a teacher, a guide and a helpful loving friend.
The characters of Selina are like Precious, Gordon like Ms. Rain, Roseanne like Mary. In fact a year after the films original release in 1966 it had Oscar nominated actors too. Shelly Winters was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as the role of Roseanne, much like Mo’Nique for her role as Mary and both ladies won! Similar roles different era’s. A Patch Of Blue a bit less graphic because of the era it was shot in was indeed a brave film much like PRECIOUS the courage to address hard subject matter head on. Both pictures are winners!
Shelly Winters accepting her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “A Patch Of Blue”
After completing the book I remember sitting in the Brooklyn Moon Cafe chatting with my girlfriends about it and the reaction was all the same fury, pain yet oddly a new word…VICTORY. Our heroine Precious was victorious! A massive overcomer, not bitter but better!! This was a hot topic book a book bomb”, to drop when you saw violation of any sort.
Then the hooplah over the book died down, like hidden away again perhaps to be dusted off on your bookshelf or the shelf of your mind. Little did anyone know there were talks of it becoming a film only a few years away. And that I would who was so furious about this book would be a part of its coming to life on film.
I can’t recall how I’d heard about the film being made but I do recall working with one of the Executive Producers for many years when they worked in the music industry. I made a phone call to her inquiring about doing the Makeup for this picture. Her response was one of uncertainty but she agreed to have me meet with the director. The director was Lee Daniels who’d directed Monsters Ball with Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton. I was floored to know he was the director (and that I would get to meet him and maybe just maybe work with him). I recalled his gritty style of filming and his complete unbiased toward what seemed to be a range of actors physically.
I rembered Halle won the Oscar for her performance in his film. I remembered seeing Halle in the film and it was nothing like I’d ever seen of her in any film…, a true departure from who she is and when that happens its because of two things at work, an Actor completely letting their persona go and the director guiding them through the mind and actions of that character. And this director helped create a whole other person for the film.
This film was an important film. It was an important body of work to convey on screen and everyone on set took it seriously too. We all knew it was an important film, a film that would free many people and work on the conscience of many.
The night before I was scheduled to meet Lee Daniels, I’d received a phone call requiring that I put together a presentation that would depict the look of the era in which the film was to be shot in because the film was considered a “period piece”. I thought to myself “The 80’s…..A PERIOD?!?! HEY LAY OFF IT!!! THAT WAS WHEN I WAS A TEEN!!” Essentially are you calling us old? Lolol well I can laugh now about it…yeah, I guess the 80’s is a period.
So, I went deep into midnight until morning hibernation and research. Research to put together a power point presentation that not only showed the fashion of the time but, the lifestyle and the music of the era in one montage. I went to Lees house that morning exhausted, a bundle of nerves and had a myriad of questions on my mind to ask him.
He came from one of the rooms as I waited for him in his living room. He was tall, handsome, a great smile, and had a head full of Curly Afro hair. I immediately liked him. He gave me a wonderful compliment and then, we began our meeting and my 80’s presentation. Lee was impressed and so we began to talk about the film. I’d told him I’d read the book and my feelings about it when it first was released. I asked him how was he going to remain true to the book? How is it even possible to convey all that’s there in the book and still get FCC approval on the film because, the book was quite graphic. The content of the book was too important to water down any of the situations or characters. How Lee, how? How are you gonna do this? How are you going to create Mary (the monster mom from hell)?
Lee was about to show me and the whole world, how this film could work! I was immediately hired for the project. The first in my department. He told me that there would be some recording artists in the film as well (ones I’d had as previous clients and had a rapport with, so it would not be uncomfortable for anyone). Lee had an amazing cast of some seasoned and some unknown actors. The cast was stellar.
Mo’Nique who we all knew would be up for some kind of award yes even the possibility of an Oscar (which I’m proud and glad to say she won!) and newcomer Gabbourey Sidibe who blew all of us away day after day of filming. Paula Patton as Ms. Rain a shining light in Precious’ world. Paul’s real life grace was poured into her character in the film her compassion was genuinely felt and conveyed.
The Makeup and Hair on this film had to be authentic 80’s style. I realized my part in this film was to help in developing the look of the characters as well as what action is going on in the scenes. Makeup in any film cannot go overlooked. Our department is an integral part of the storytelling. And the makeup here was not all going to be pretty pretty makeup, we would at some point get grimy with it.
The Makeup Department comprised of Department Head: Toy Russell, Key Makeup: Tomisina Smith and Assistant Makeup: yours truly. We did not sleep at all on this film we worked hard. Breaking down the script and developing the characters had us all in a huddle discussing different looks and all aspects of how the makeup would be executed to how the set would be run since we had do many female actors on this picture.
I recall one night on set all 3 of us tag teamed Gabby because Lee was ready to shoot…”PRONTO!!!”and we’d had to change her whole look from a previous scene change. We’d had to practically do her makeup in 10minutes right on set!!! Trust me it was harder than you think to match the exact look we’d shot only days ago with a continuity photo in one hand and a makeup brush in the other and work around the Hair Department who had to do the same thing with hair! All of us pulling at poor Gabby but, she was truly the consummate pro!!!
Here’s the article written in Makeup Artist Magazine giving all the makeup details.
I will always remember my time working on this film. Many great moments of laughter and some tears but over all this tender film with it’s powerhouse actors will always be remembered and be indoctrinated in the Oscar Academy’s history. And be considered an African American cinema classic. In addition I’m proud to say I was part of the making of this film.
Thank you Lee Daniels and Lisa Cortes for giving me the opportunity in joining the crew on an Oscar nominated film!!! Oh there’s many more to come I’m sure.
Written by NZINGHA for ZFACEINC,nyc
Ok, so this weekend I took a “live training session” with a Sync On Set representative, Greg was his name. The training session was held at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply on 29th Street and 8th Avenue here in NYC, one of my favorite one stop shop spots for Pro Artists supplies. I’m just going to say this now…,I LOVE THIS PROGRAM AND IT’S LONG OVERDUE!!!
Sync OnSet is a new software program and mobile app tailored to the needs of the Costume, Makeup & Hair Departments that mostly work on TV shows, Movies and I might say Broadway. With Sync OnSet, the whole staff can digitally manage script breakdowns, fitting notes, continuity photos, inventory, and much more.
It’s really an amazing program that can assist you in keeping absolutely everything in your department in order. For example when you upload the script (best in a PDF file) it automatically sets up the program making all the script brake downs by the scenes numbers, scene days, script days, characters names and pages.
All additional information you would go to the website and manually add your details to the breakdown. These are your notes to be shared interdepartmental, so everyone is on the same page about the details and frequent updates of your department. If you have to make changes, changes are easily done just by typing info in directly from your PC or Mobile Device and the two can be synced immediately.
Sync OnSet allows multiple users of your choice (because you can select who can view your departments notes from you selected crew members i.e, Director, Producer, UPM’s, Department Assistants) to collaborate in a new and exciting way and to share notes via mail or by messaging.
Sync OnSet’s mobile app gives the user the flexibility to take photos from your iPhone or iPad and take notes anywhere and instantly share them with the rest of the team! Example: the Department Head and Key may be on set in a location far from the trailer where you may have an Assistant stationed working on your continuity books, onset changes and updates can immediately be photographed detailed and synced upon set or emailed to your Assistants Mobile Device and instantly added!
As you can see in the picture above taken from my iPhone you can see how Sync On Set has a listing set up so when you click on each listing it will take you to that area of the program. You can tag photos from the Photo Gallery and email the look to whomever you’d like within your department or to the Director. This program is fast becoming the industry’s first “digital continuity bible”!
Ok, so here are further breakdowns of the software program listed below by department.
Props: Add photos and track props from scene to scene or character to character all within one application.
“With our large costume team,
it allows us to collaborate and share
– Joseph LaCorte & Virginia Patten
“This program is genius! It’s easy to
use, saves me hours and hours!
Boardwalk Empire, HBO
“This is long overdue!”
– Catharine “Fletch” Incaprera
Anchorman: The Legend Continues
“It is the wave of the
future for continuity and inter-
– Kristin Burke
Insidious: Chapter 2
“Enables me to calmly present information to other departments… a huge asset!”
– Erika Lilienthal
“Gives me more time to focus on the important parts of my career & home life.”
– Pattie Hendersen
“Allows me to quickly breakdown
14 episodes in half the time!”
– Tamika Jackson
The Heart, She Holler,
There are more additions to be made to the software and to the mobile app but it’s all pretty easy once you get the jist of it and the software will have it’s updates made. Greg said they’re working on more details for the program but I tell you they’re off to a great start!!
To learn more and get started, please visit: http://www.synconset.com
Love this Beauty History information! well done!! Thank you Tyron…love when folks do their homework about their careers!! Xoxo
How World War I Helped Popularize the Bra
MAY 25, 2013 3
Corsets dominated the undergarments of wealthier women in the Western world for centuries, until WWI. So how did the war help popularize the bra? In a word, or two words in this case: metal shortage. The making of corsets required quite a bit of metal. Thus, in 1917, the U.S. War Industries Board asked American women to help their “men win the war” by not wearing or buying corsets.
This may seem like it would only make a small difference; but, in fact, during the war it is estimated that they freed up around 28,000 tons of steel by this change. (Similar reasoning later led to the banning of pre-sliced bread in the U.S. during WWII, with much less success.)
Besides conserving resources, other…
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What does “Nude” or “Flesh Tone” mean to women of color in fashion?
I recall sitting at my Grandmum’s feet and hearing her tell me stories of the fashions from her era 1930-1950’s. Those were her years of being a “Fashionista”. She told me how the women styled their hair (usually short or neck length and sometimes a bit longer but rolled up short into chingon’s), nails (mostly red varnish and then eventually pink) and makeup (pretty much nothing a powder if you could find one to match your skin color, red lipstick, mascara and a brow pencil).
Some modern young women could stand to re-evaluate their presentation. Take a peek at this vintage Makeup Tutorial…
I would look at some of her old photographs and the albums she had and even found one or two magazines. The women in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s were so glamourous and feminine looking, even on their down days they were still well groomed.
Ms. Edith (Grandmum) once told me a story while I was shimmying into my “nude” colored nylons (1977) getting ready for church. I was complaining about how ugly the Color of these stockings really were and how it just didn’t look like the natural color of my legs, maybe I should’ve tried just getting coffee (a brown thats darker than my natural medium brown colored legs) or black (you could never be wrong with black sheer nylons on right?)
I noticed she was laughing at me and said “AnnZingha, you think those are ugly eh? (Sucking her teeth) You should’ve seen the ones we had to wear back then. They used to call them Red Fox and boy were they eva RED! They were literally red. This was the only natural toned nylons for black people. Either that Beige or Black sheer. That was it!! Take it or leave it!”
“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.”
1. suspicion, distrust, mistrust, possessiveness, doubt, spite, resentment, wariness, ill-will, dubiety example: At first his jealousy only showed in small ways – he didn’t mind me talking to other guys.
2. envy, resentment, resentfulness, enviousness, spite, hatred, malice, ill will, covetousness, malignity, the green-eyed monster (informal) Her beauty causes jealousy.
Jealousy is a feeling of resentment, anger or outrage over an alleged injustice done in a relationship.
Jealousy can also come out as a feeling of envy or inferiority.
What causes Jealousy?
Insecurity in relationships causes jealousy, which is often accompanied with feelings of anger and inferiority. Jealousy may also stem from envy of others because of their abilities, material possessions, or popularity among peers.
Envy escalated is Jealousy! Well we’ve all encountered at some point in our lives someone who may be envious of us but when you have someone who is jealous of you it can border on detriment.
Someone who is jealous of you does not want you to have the possession, position, ability or person that you have nor to share it with anyone else.
Here we see two of the most well known Super Models contending with that ol monster JEALOUSY! Jealousy in the workplace is difficult to handle but can be won by simply making a choice to confront it. Confronting it strips it’s power away from causing more havoc on both parties and possibly to an entire work project.
What I find really interesting in this interview/chat with Tyra and Naomi, is how Tyra is about getting healing and Naomi is still in a state of denial. That usually comes when jealousy escalates to bullying. And in this case her “bullying” was trying to make Tyra fear her, being manipulative in situations, and even sabotaging her from employment!!
But the truth is Tyra was the bigger person in this story. And in the end though Naomi is still a Super Model and always will be because she was groundbreaking. Yet Tyra’s name and body of work still surpasses Naomi’s in a whole other way…Tyra is becoming a multimedia mogul!!!!!
What do you think the best way to handle jealousy in the workplace is?
Tyra listed these as the 7 Deadly Sins against Sisterhood
MY TRUE ON SET STORIES:
I was called to work on a TV Pilot project being shot in New York while I was working on another project being shot in Florida. The NY project needed me to come in right away but I’d already been committed to the project I was on in Florida.
The NY TV project required a Unionized Department Head (that would’ve been me). They needed me to come and prep the project and break down the script. I told them I would commit to the project for sure but I’m not going to be able to prep (shopping and meetings with crew) the job while I was in Florida. However, as a solution, I would be able to break down the script scene by scene so whomever my Key would be could shop appropriately for each characters Makeup as I’d broken it down.
They agreed and locked me into a contract and agreed that I was on the project as officially the Department Head upon my return from Florida. However the project in Florida ran a bit over the time I was to be there so, in my absence the production company would have the young lady who was to be my Key become Department Head and move forward to prep the job. Now I would be the Key Makeup Artist and we’d have a Day Playing Makeup Assistant.
The young lady they chose for the project was not in the Union as a registered Makeup Artist. But in order to have the project go up without a glitch they would use my Union Status to move forward with the project in the Makeup Department even though now I was the Key Makeup Artist. And from this she would get her Union hours to join and then she would eventually get into the Union (MANIPULATION).
I agreed not knowing all this was going on. But in truth who cares we were both getting the same salary!! Anyway, when I came in it turns out it was an old acquaintance colleague, who I would later find out had held a grudge against me for years. So now we would now be working side by side, she as the Department Head and myself as her assisting Key Makeup Artist.
Well, on this picture I’d known several of the actors. And other actors had known of me by reputation and wanted to work with me. This picture would now be that opportunity for us to work together. While in the trailer on our first day I’d spoken to the other Artist about how she wanted to work the project since she’d not called me while I was in Florida to execute our work strategy (truth be told she was clueless, still didn’t know how to break down the script and had a deplorably unkempt kit that the actors would wind up complaining to production about).
I chose to be gracious though I’d fast seen there was an invisible wall put up by her. At first I couldn’t figure it out but further in conversation I found out, she was intimidated by my presence and by the fact that the players and even production had worked with me before.
Yet again I remained gracious to her and remained respectful of our positions on the project.
So now, still being gracious, I found myself left in the trailer 3 days in a row!!!! From call time to wrap time doing absolutely nothing and with no instructions(mind you everyone on set saw this happening Actors, Producers and even PA’s).
I’d ask her if she wanted me to do anything, like cover her on set since there were several female players in the scene plus the lead actress, to helping her with her continuity book. She clearly stated she did NOT WANT MY HELP!! Her grudge against me was bigger than obvious productivity!!
On the second week of the project come Monday morning I was still in the trailer doing absolutely nothing (mind you still getting paid)!!! I was frustrated and embarrassed not just for myself but for her! Truth be told I wanted to walk off the project, give her one good backhanded slap and punch her in the face!!! But,…I would not give her the satisfaction of me lowering my personal standards of excellent behavior to meet her lack of experience and ignorance.
So, this day the lead actress (who’d wanted to work with me for a long time and whom I’d had many conversations by phone and at various events) came in the trailer and asked me after a week of me being stationed by the Department Head to stay in the trailer.
She said “NZINGHA, are you really just NOT gonna do makeup on this job? Are you serious?! What’s up with that for real?!” All of this happened in front of the Department Head…so, I answered her “My dear its nothing personal but I’m not the Department Head on this project she is and I am the Key Makeup Artist on this project, therefore I am getting my directives from her. And so far I have not been given further instructions. I’d love to do your makeup but I’m following the Department Heads lead.”
The actress then says “So, let me get this straight, you are not allowed to do my makeup or anyone else’s on this set, you are not to even come on set to help with touch ups but you are to just sit here in this trailer?! For real?!?! Where do they do that?! That’s some BS!! What’s going on in here I wanna know right now?! Cause you are an amazing Artist!! What’s really going on?!”
I said to the actress “I’ll leave that answer to the Department Head.” And the actress and I both looked at her for the answer. Then the actress said to her “WELL?!”.
The DH began to speak, slowly and confessed her grudge towards me. It had been age old on some misinformation shed received. Not realizing in that previous work experience where she was my assistant, I’d covered her back. She’d also mentioned following my career asking producers who’d worked with me what my rates were. Basically makeup stalking me!
“Love your haters – they’re your biggest fans”
On that other project, I covered her!!! I covered her, when in truth she should’ve been drop kicked by me!!! I was gracious to her!!!! The truth was the production on the other job, did drop kick her AND kick her to the curb! WHY? Because she had a bad attitude, a filthy kit and they didn’t want to pay her NOR DID THEY PAY HER !!!
She was my assistant on that job and I wound up coming out of my own pocket to pay her for the job, since the production company didn’t pay her. In fact they’d said they would NEVER HIRE HER AGAIN!!! I asked why and they gave me a list of reasons. I was embarrassed because I’d worked on many projects with them and my reputation would be at stake for this one project that I placed her on! REALLY?!
Now all of this dialogue is happening at the actresses request in front of her as awkward as it was she became the voice of reason to this DH. She told her “You are looking like a fool honey and everybody on set is talking about it!! You need to let Nzingha do her job!! If she is hired to assist you then you need to let her do it! The Exec Producers are watching what’s been going down and you’re the one looking bad not Nzingha cause they’ve worked with her before! And, not only that but I was under the impression that she was the DH!!!”
Well, I won’t go any further but, all I can say is we talked it out I had to put a bug in her ear Woman to Woman. “This is not the only project in the world and you never know who you will come across again in life…BE CAREFUL HOW YOU TREAT OTHER PEOPLE! Because someone’s always watching and taking notes.”
Afterwards even the Producers had to speak to her. She finally had me work on one of the actors and come on set (Turns out the lead actor she didn’t want to do. Why? Because shed deemed him as “difficult”. Turns out he wanted me for a previous project he’d worked on and I’d been out of the country and couldn’t work that film) . The Producers and Director apologized to me for her behaviour! Imagine that!?!,? They’d said they knew it wasn’t me that was causing the disturbance.
True Story #2
Sometimes those that are Jealous come in many forms…CONTROLLING, MANIPULATING, IGNORING, GOSSIPING, LISTENING TO GOSSIP, BULLYING, LYING, WANTING TO BELIEVE LIES, SABOTAGING and more.
Wel,…l lets say all of the above were in effect on this one project. In a nutshell, I was a first hire before anyone was hired in the Makeup Department. I had a strong presentation for the director and was immediately hired! He then hired a more seasoned Makeup Artist to Department Head (30+ years) she then hired her Key Makeup Artist and I would be the Assisting Key Makeup Artist.
Well, here we go again the Key was instantly intimidated by me. As we moved further into the project she began saying nasty little things as I would enter a room, then it escalated to being behind my back to others, then finally to the Department Head. The DH wanted to believe her because they’d had established a working relationship long before this project. Unfortunately the DH didn’t know her girl was 5150 (police code for certifiably crazy).
One afternoon on the set shed said something nasty and I heard it and she didn’t care that she was loud, my first inclination was to “Go NZINGHA 85 (1985)” on her and give her a “West Indian Bronx Beatdown” because she surely deserved it at this point.
Everyone on set seemed to wanted to believe her garbage about me. It was truly the grace of GOD defending me on that set. I felt alone and ganged up on, defenceless because shed set me up several times. And no one wanted to hear my side or believe me. She’d gotten to the point that she was trying to get me fired! She did everything she could from blatant manipulation to Makeup Sabotage!!
I’m not going to go further into the chaos she caused on that set but she showed her bottom one last go round on another project that that same DH hired her on and at that point she got even crazier and from what I understood tried to sabotage and get her boss fired so she could be elevated as DH for that show!!! IMAGINE THE NERVE!!!
Well divine justice came out of that incident her ugly masked cover was blown and she had a divine “Casey Hayenes Body Slam”!!! BOOM FLAT ON HER FACE!!!
Casey Hayenes | Bullied No More
Yes we recognize as compassionate people that bullies have been themselves bullied in their past and like a Stockholm Syndrome they become repeat offenders until it all comes to a screeching halt!! And the truth is revealed that you’re really scared you wont ever work again. and you know what you’re right!!! The lesson learned here is you can seem like you’re getting away with foolishness for a while but ultimately you will be confronted! And everything that’s hidden in darkness will come to the light in time.
And if the deed is inexcusable not only will you get “body slammed” but NO ONE will feel sorry for you…the jealous, tragic, insecure, bully.
Richard Gayle | No more being Bullied or Bullying
How to deal with “Grown Up” Mean girls featured in Filler Magazine