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Last November, Netflix released what’s become one of its most successful original movies: Dolemite Is My Name, starring Eddie Murphy as filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore. The streaming service’s release chronicled Moore’s journey to get the first Dolemite movie made back in the 1970s, and one of the biggest challenges that went into documenting this period was ensuring that all the leading characters in Dolemite Is My Name looked as closely as their real-life counterparts as possible.
That particular job fell to Stacey Morris, Carla Farmer and Vera Steimberg, who made up the hair and makeup team on Dolemite Is My Name. Working with director Craig Brewer costume designer Ruth Carter, the trio went to painstaking lengths researching the kind of hairstyles one would have seen in 1970s Los Angeles. Talking about how important it was to do a “deep dive” on that time period, Steimberg said:
We really took our time to research the era and definitely looked into every detail of the Rudy Ray Moore’s original Dolemite character. We wanted this movie to look authentic. We had to nail all the different looks. There were Rudy’s looks, but we had the movie within the movie that had its own different looks.
That makes senses. After all, while Dolemite Is My Name recreates several moments from the original Dolemite, the movie is about how Rudy Ray Moore came up with the eponymous character and all the work he poured into bringing said creation to the big screen. So in addition to ensuring that Eddie Murphy looked like Moore both in front of and away from the camera (which included his wigs looking better as he became more successful), it also was necessary that those who joined Moore in making Dolemite look era-appropriate.
To that end, Stacey Morris, Carla Farmer and Vera Steimberg would attend fitting sessions for those secondary characters frequently pitched ideas to Ruth Carter. Ultimately, the hair in Dolemite Is My Name was tackled with a “heightened level of scrutiny.” If the trio had trouble with a particular actor’s hair, they’d put a hat on that person, and Steimberg pointed out that none of the women had implants. Morris added to Variety:
We had a guy with dreads all the way down to his waist, so we wrapped his dreads and added things to make it look like an Afro.
Whatever it takes, right? In addition to Dolemite Is My Name receiving various ‘Best Costume Design’ accolades over the last several months, the movie also scored a Best Hair & Makeup nomination at the Critics Choice Awards, though Bombshell won out in that category. Alas, Dolemite Is My Name did not walk away with any Academy Award nominations this morning, but going by its extraordinary critical reception, there’s no question that it did a lot of things right.
You can stream Dolemite Is My Name to your heart’s content on Netflix, and if you’re curious about what’s hitting the big screen over the course of this year, consult our 2020 release schedule.