My OZ: The Great and Powerful Movie Experience

I had to repost this because I thought this was such an amazing experience. Besides being unbelievable and awesome every single day, I met quite a few great people who I can currently call friends.  Not a bad deal for working 2 months straight with 16, sometimes 20 hour days!

It all started when I was looking for work and randomly sent my resume to a general casting address I found online.  I received a call a few days later and before I could even say hello, the girl on the line started going down a laundry list of do’s and dont’s.  I had to stop her and say “who is this?”  She laughed and asked had I been contacted by anyone from ‘OZ’ yet.  I was like “WHAT!!?? THE MOVIE??” She laughed again and patiently explained who she was and started from the top…again. 🙂

A few days later I went in for a fitting. This is where they figure out how you are going to look for the movie….Hair Department, Makeup Department, Costumers, and if your costume needs altering. It was the most miraculous experience because I was dealing with people that ACTUALLY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING!  I have worked on hundreds of commercials, films and the like and have run into soooo many people that have never worked on black actor’s before…so they have no clue what to do with hair and makeup.  When I first started out (too many years ago to count) I had to learn quickly to show up to every single job, hair and makeup ready so no nightmares would ensue.

Back to ‘OZ’!! Every department had top shelf Emmy Award winning professionals. I felt like I was in ‘OZ’ just being at the fitting!  The costumer, Bill, told me that all of our outfits were picked specifically for each of us by the director from our headshot and body shot. When my costume was on, it was like a dream. I could tell Bill loved his job and my outfit because he fussed over me and it and kept adding and tightening and primping me. He even specially made me an enormous hat and said I had ‘stature to carry off a huge hat’. I’m a sucker for a compliment. I now get how stars feel and how they are treated everyday! My fitting lasted a little over 4 hours and I headed home on cloud nine.

Days later we were called to the Raleigh Studios in Pontiac, MI to shoot for about 2 months or so. I can’t get into the minutia of the shoot days because they all started to run together. I’d get up at 3am, shower, head to the studio, check in by 4 am, eat breakfast, (provided) get dressed, head to hair and makeup and go to holding and…………………….wait………………wait………………wait. That is the biggest thing about acting, the ‘hurry up and wait”.  I never mind it because even in my normal life, I like to be ready and waiting to go.  Now sometimes we started shooting at 9am, other times we sat and cooled our heels until 4, 5, or 6pm. Then we would shoot for a few hours, eat dinner and………………..wait……………or go back to shooting.  This would go on until sometimes 2am. When they finally cut you for the day, NOW you have to go back to the Hair Department to have them remove your fake hair, then the Makeup Department to remove fake facial hair or eyelashes and finally the Costume Department to get undressed and put everything in its proper place to get dry cleaned daily. Yes…That IS a long day. But exciting, every step of the way!

It’s also funny to see people without their costumes on. I heard so many times “wow, you ARE thin in real life”. Or “you have a lot of hair!” I’m guessing during filming I looked like a fat, wig-wearing heffa. lol

A few cool take aways;  to watch the movie and know how a particular scene was shot and how it looked without CGI, to see just how much footage was really cut out and to actually know how tiny the actors are in real life. Becasue I was tall, the director said to me more than once “Purple, move to the back.” Why did they give a 5’10” chick heels and a 3 foot feather hat? I started slouching after a few of those calls.

The set was also amazing. Larger than life and very, very expensive. What a production. It was cool to see a scene shot and then stand behind the director’s chair and see some CGI rendering of said scene.

I got to run into, meet, be onset with and be around a ton of actors. Rachel Weiss (Daniel Craig came to visit and she was super cool and accessible), Mila Kunis (Who received a visit from Justin Timberlake one evening (I wish I woulda had a camera for what I saw!), Zach Braff (Chatted me up, outside one day), James Franco (Taller than I thought), Tony Cox, Bill Cobbs and Michelle Williams.
OZ: The Great and Powerful is the biggest thing to hit Detroit since Motown and I am so grateful to have been a part of it!