Knocking out 12 Emmy nominations this year in its second season, it’s clear to say “Orange is the New Black” is one of the hottest shows this season. A huge cast means Hair Department Head Angel De Angelis and Makeup Department Head Michal Biggar constantly have their hands full. With a supportive team and the best actors to work with, this beauty duo takes on the challenging task of making prison look, shall we say, not-so-chic? Read along and find out what it’s like for them to work on a hit show, how they tackle the flashback scenes and why Laverne Cox is the ultimate beauty queen.
WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING ON THE EMMY-NOMINATED HOT SHOW, “ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK”?
De Angelis: OITNB is one of those amazing shows you get asked to work on once or twice during your career… if you're lucky! It sounds cliché but it's true. From the cast to the crew to the producers, writers and teamsters... we all respect and love each other. We are happy to go to work! The show is bursting with creativity and it just keeps attracting more.
Biggar: OITNB supports creativity, camaraderie and reminds me everyday why I wanted to join the film business. I've never had such a good time. I'm surrounded by such wonderful people in every category: producers, writers, directors, crew, cast, teamsters, catering... it starts at the top and is reflected in every individual associated with the show. Orange is exceptional on every level.
THE SHOW DOES A LOT OF FLASHBACKS INTO THE PAST. HOW CHALLENGING IS IT WORKING ON THE SAME CHARACTERS BUT WITH DIFFERENT LOOKS DURING DIFFERENT ERAS?
De Angelis: I have to admit flashback scenes are my favorite part. I feel like the characters are my "Barbie Dolls" and along with our wonderful Makeup and Costume departments we get to create a look. We also love collaborating with the writers and, of course, our dear Jenji Kohan who leads the pack in creativity!
Biggar: Exploring each character’s past is a lot of fun for us. Back stories release us, as well, from the inhibitions of prison life. We confer amongst ourselves, as well as with Jenji and the writers. The writers are so amazing! Back stories are never predictable.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE A CHALLENGING OR FUNNY MOMENT FOR YOU DURING SEASON ONE?
De Angelis: Believe it or not, one of the most challenging hair looks was creating Pornstache's look. We had to give him that intense scary militia look and his hair is filled with cow licks that want to do anything but go the straight and narrow. Then, for Season 2, to make him look more ‘smarmy’ with his mullet, that took awhile. Let's just say a few extensions were used but again working and laughing all the way with Pablo Schreiber and everyone was a blast.
Biggar: I can tell you that everyday is challenging and the laughter on set never ends. Transforming Laverne Cox into a man was a challenge, not because we couldn't make her look like one but because she is so thoroughly feminine. We were in hysterics trying to get her to walk like a man for the director's show and tell. When we realized she had a twin brother who could play her as a man, we were very relieved.
LAVERNE COX, AKA SOPHIA BURSET, I MEAN…DOES SHE EVEN NEED ANY HELP WITH HER HAIR?
De Angelis: Sophia, being the resident stylist, is always ready to try out any wig, extension or color we want but the only drawback prison has is these things are not really that plentiful [in prison]. So, she may be stuck in the same look for a while, and since you can't have any metal bobby pins in your hair, it must remain down or pulled back into a ponytail. How boring! Laverne does know a lot about wigs and hairpieces so we have an ongoing dialogue about new things and where to get what.
WE HAVE TO ASK…DOES LAVERNE COX EVER GIVE OUT HER OWN BEAUTY ADVICE?
Biggar: Isn't she beautiful? We talk makeup with her a lot. She's very knowledgeable. She should be representing a makeup company.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PRODUCTS THAT WE’D ALWAYS FIND IN YOUR SET BAG??
De Angelis: You will never find me on set without my trusted L’Oreal Elnett Hairspray and a teasing brush. You can get so much usage out of those two things!
Biggar: Dolce & Gabbana, Urban Decay, Dr. Hauschka, Make Up For Ever, Burt's Bees...every bag has something in it from one of those fantastic companies.
Find out what the cast members said about working with Angel and Michal.
“Both Angel and Michal are extraordinary artists whose vision is an integral part of the daily success of our show. Michal’s care in evolving Piper’s look from rosy-cheeked prison newbie to being one of the prison pack through make-up is a subtle and involved process that has helped me with the character tremendously. It takes a great deal of skill to create a “no make-up” look. I particularly love when Angel brings out extensions and wigs for Piper. She’s a genius when it comes to transforming Piper. Michal has helped me a lot with my skin. She has taught me the importance of removing every last bit of make-up when I leave set. My skin has improved as a result. Angel has turned me on to the importance of deep conditioning several times a week. “
-Taylor Schilling (Piper Chapman)
“Working with Angel and Michael has been an amazing experience. Our show is very authentic and real and to capture that on camera takes a special sensibility which they both have. Also, they are both awesome women!!”
-Laura Prepon (Alex Vause)
"I think it's been so refreshing to see women like Michal and Angel who aren't afraid to stay true to the truthful storytelling trying to be told on Orange. They are committed to and are not afraid of pushing the rawness and honest our show creates."
-Uzo Aduba (Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren)
“There's no such thing as a quick quote regarding the two greatest geniuses of hair and makeup in the world of cinema. Angel De Angelis and Michal Biggar are respectively so professional, so seamlessly talented, and so personally congenial that they are unmatched in my experience - and my experience has been 42 years in this business."
-Kate Mulgrew (Galina ‘Red’ Reznikov)
“Both Angel and Michal are amazing department heads. Angel is so warm and inviting. She was one of the first people I met on set and made me feel so welcome…she always made me feel like what she was doing was simple, which has the magical feeling of making you think you're a better actor. I've been lucky to work with Michal on more than one project. She radiates such an interior calm and inspires everyone around her…she is so gifted at bringing out peoples’ natural beauty and has compassion for what characters are experiencing. It's a really beautiful way to work. She can help you enter into more difficult emotions by empathizing with the shadows and strife she is bringing out of your face.”
-Maria Dizzia (Polly Harper)
“Angel is an Angel and Michel is a master! Both (and the wonderful teams they assembled) are artists who consider each role very carefully and help create character with their mastery. It also happens to be a joy to be in their chairs. They bring a sense of peace, support and serenity; so key to our preparation for scenes.”
-Alysia Reiner (Natalie Figueroa)