‘The Woman King’ Crew Featured in THR

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Viola Davis and Gina Prince-Bythewood on the Battle to Get ‘The Woman King’ Made

For the film’s star and director, the historical epic of West African female fighters represents Black women in a new light. 

In assembling a crew for the five-month, South Africa-based shoot, Prince-Bythewood prioritized department heads who were women and people of color, including cinematographer Polly Morgan, production designer Akin McKenzie, costume designer Gersha Phillips, visual effects supervisor Sara Bennett and editor Terilyn Shropshire. For makeup, she hired a local, South African artist, Babalwa Mtshiselwa. “The thing is for women and people of color, often the résumés are not long because it’s about lack of opportunity, not lack of talent,” Prince-Bythewood says. “So when you’re in my position, it’s important to look past that résumé. There were a couple of people who’ve never done a film of this size before, but what they brought into that meeting, I knew that they were going to bring something extra.” Hair was going to be important on the film, and Prince-Bythewood wanted her actresses, many of whom had had the experience of being on sets where stylists don’t know how to do their hair, to have a say. The director asked hairstylist Louisa Anthony for looks that were cool and functional in fight scenes, braids and short styles that her cast could move in. Prince-Bythewood’s mandate to DP Morgan was, she says, “I want our women to look more beautiful than they’ve ever been shot before.”

 

 

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