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As awareness over the need to diversify Hollywood’s hair and makeup trailers continues to grow, the union that represents those artists has teamed up with entertainment workforce development program Reel Works to help bring more BIPOC stylists into the industry.
The inaugural IATSE Entertainment Industry Hair Stylist Training, presented by Make-up Artists & Hair Stylists Local 798 and the Brooklyn-based nonprofit, took place from Jan. 11 to April 23, with a graduation ceremony for the first 12-person cohort this weekend. The idea was to expose licensed hairstylists to the employment opportunities available to them in film and television and prepare them for entertainment careers through the presentation of both theoretical information as well as practical, hands-on training in hair of all lengths and textures, focusing on period hairstyling, braiding and wig preparation.
“We are thrilled to have the unique opportunity to partner with IATSE Local 798 on a program that they had the vision to conceive and run,” Reel Works co-founder and executive director John Williams said in a statement. “We are now able to equip our students with the skills necessary to fashion all textures and styles of hair for the stage and screen. We hope to help contribute to the amazing strides that are being made in the name of increased diversity and inclusion across the industry that serves our city.”
With the support of Netflix, AMC Networks and the Consortium for Workers Education, the program featured classes taught by Local 798 members both locally at their Union Hall in New York City but also via Zoom from Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. The training also featured a panel that included Mia Neal, who with Jamika Wilson became the first Black Oscar winners (for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) in makeup and hairstyling, and Metropolitan Opera head of wigs and makeup Tera Willis.
As the program concludes, the students will receive additional work readiness classes to help them navigate the profession as a hairstylist in the entertainment industry.
“This program is part of Local 798’s continuing plan to facilitate the expansion of equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging in the entertainment industry as we tell stories together with all our collaborators on the stage and screen,” Local 798 president Angela Johnson said in a statement. “We are proud of our diverse, talented membership, and look forward to welcoming the graduates of this program to the industry.”
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