What made you interested in working on the show?
My background is in fashion and red carpet, and I love bougie style and makeup, so I just fell in love with the whole aesthetic of this show. We have about eight days per
episode and this is a beauty show and we have a lot of creative allowance, which is crucial for relationships to form between our artists and our cast.
The show revolves around these vastly different women. What’s the key to ensuring they each have their own identity and look?
There’s Polly, the preppy con-artist played by Carrie Preston, the mysterious and silent “Quiet Ann” (Judy Reyes), former exotic dancer Virginia (Karrueche Tran) and the cheery yet complicated Jennifer (Jenn Lyon). All the actresses are very invested in their characters and honor the overall design trajectory established by the show runners and makeup team. The friendships and relationships between these women is what gives the show such charm.
How do you come up with your designs for each?
I keep a Pinterest board up for each character and that helps to create looks based on what they are wearing and the direction the storyline is going. Niecy Nash plays sassy nail salon owner Desna Simms on the hit dramedy.
What’s the process of working with her?
She has her own personal makeup artist, Naima Jamal, who creates looks with her, and then she and I have a conversation to ensure that the looks of the other characters
are cohesive visually with hers.
What are your go-to looks for Polly?
For Polly, I turn to peaches and soft pinks. Because she has red hair and a vibrant personality, the makeup needs to personify that. Her color palette reflects sweetness and a southern subtlety of color, and it works for most of her multiple personalities. I use Tatcha Silk Canvas primer, which is great for humid weather; Christian Dior Capture Totale foundation and Benefit Precisely My Brow pencil and Gimme Brow gel in 3.5 for those warm thicker brows we love on her.
This season, Polly took on a manager-like persona. How did that change her overall look?
Carrie showed me a photo of Kate Blanchard and said she wanted her character to draw from that look. We went with a nude lip and smoky eyes, which was very much toned down from her corals of the previous years. She’s going more matte on her lips as well. For her look I use Benefit Coralista blush, Mark Jacobs Beauty Bronzer for a subtle contour, IT Cosmetics concealer which is great coverage with no creasing, especially under those manager glasses at the casino.
This year, we learned Judy Reyes’ character of Quiet Ann is pregnant. How do you achieve that pregnancy glow?
I use Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow on her cheekbones and brow bone La mer conditioner on her lips. For Judy, I also use Koh Gen Do Cleansing water prep, Tata Harper Facial Toner Spray, Tatcha water cream moisturizer and Sunday Riley Auto
Correct eye cream. She’s our tomboy character and her nails are still on point and I’m not sure a lot of people notice that. Her brows are always perfect and her skin is beautiful and she still has that touch of glam in her character. This season, it’s been a hectic time for her with the pregnancy, so the glow really works.
There also seemed to be a change in the character of Virginia in season 3. What can you tell us about how her makeup reflects that change?
We did a lot of bling and a lot of crystals on her, and she has more of a natural lip. I hired Ashley Levy as my key and she takes care of her and Judy this season. She is very detail oriented and Karrueche is very knowledgeable about her products and so involved in the process, so it’s cool to see them work together.
How has the character of Jennifer changed over time and how has her makeup played a role in that?
In the first season, Jennifer was more colorful and pink and she was written as somewhat cartoonish. I think now she’s a little more glammy and educated, not so much pink or tan—a little more relatable now.
What about the men on the show? Anything you need to do special for them?
Harold Perrineau, who plays Dean, has a full arm sleeve of tattoos in real life, and Jack Kesy, who plays Roller, has his entire chest covered with tattoos. They come in every
morning and we cover them with special makeup. Jack’s entire wardrobe is open shirt and you can’t see any of the tattoos, so those who know him are really surprised.
Shooting in New Orleans must present some challenges?
Hot summer days in New Orleans call for protecting the skin so SPF is key. Amarte 50spf Ultra Veil Ultra light sunscreen has been perfect for sun protection without compromising the makeup. On humid days, which occur somewhat regularly
here, I use Cle de Peau concealer in honey/ochre and Laura Mercier powder. Also, Hourglass translucent powder for the setting has been great as well as it doesn’t cake.
What’s do you love most about your job on Claws?
My favorite part of this job is being able to create a team that has freedom to be creative because that’s so rare. It’s just a perfect spinning wheel and I’m real lucky.
Words Keith Loria
Photos Courtesy of TNT