Awards Radar had a recent opportunity to speak to Angie Wells, makeup artist and jazz singer. Wells was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award for her work on Cheaper by the Dozen and served as makeup department head on Amazon’s anticipated season 2 of Hunters. She also released her new jazz album – Truth Be Told.
In the interview, Wells shared her creative process on period and contemporary projects and how she balances two creative careers.
In recent years, many studios have attempted to reboot their beloved movies and shows. What was special for you about Cheaper by the Dozen compared to the original?
I really enjoyed the fact that it had such a diverse cast. The new script also dealt with contemporary life, including divorce, blended families, physical disabilities, and racism.
What was your creative process like for Cheaper by the Dozen, and how did you manage day-to-day coordination with such an extended cast?
The same basic concept always applies. You read the script paying close attention to any character notes, settings, costumes, timelines, etc. I always have a meeting with the director to learn what their vision is as well. We discuss the notes, and I show them reference photos for the makeup.
We had to work closely with the ADs and production to stay on schedule with getting everyone ready.
You also worked on season 2 of Hunters, which was released on Prime Video recently; how did your process differ on a period piece like this from contemporary projects like Cheaper by the Dozen?
When I work on a period piece, I read the script looking at everything through the eyes of that specific time. For example, all makeup and facial hair styles reflect the look of the period for the show to look authentic. I spoke with David Weil (show creator/showrunner) about the look of the second season. I wanted to bring a grittier look to the second season, and David agreed. I called all the returning actors ahead of time and spoke with them about the changes we wanted to make and why I wanted to make them in relation to their individual characters. When they realized how much thought I gave to their character and “who” the character was, they were on board behind the new looks.
I pulled reference photos from real news and fashion magazines from those years, TV shows and films from the era, and family photos. I was also very conscious of the locations in the scripts, and they played a very significant part in the looks I designed for the characters. Here is a detail that may seem subtle, but it was the true look of the time. Eyebrows were thinner and a bit sparser into the late 70s, and heavy eyelashes were not in style. I wanted that to be seen in the show. I chose natural-looking lashes to reflect a “no Lash” look. Eyebrows were not solid, and powder brow color was not being used yet. Our actors and actresses were all happy to work within the new looks we were creating, which made it easier to change their characters’ looks for the second season.
What are your favorite looks from Cheaper by the Dozen and Hunters season 2?
Cheaper By the Dozen was contemporary and didn’t really involve any special makeup. We just wanted everyone to look natural. There was a scene where Deja changes her look after she begins to like a new boy at her new school. I do want to say that I think that hair department head Tinisha Meeks designed some beautiful hair looks for the project.
My favorite looks from Hunters Season 2 are the redesigned makeup I did for Jonah and Sister Kate at the opera. I also loved all the character looks for Episode 7. Honestly, I have to say I was very happy with the overall look of the whole season. I love realistic period work, and it was great to be able to work with authenticity as my main goal.
You are not only an extraordinary makeup artist but also a singer and songwriter. What made you decide to pursue both, and how do you balance the two paths?
Thank you. I appreciate your choice of adjectives, and I am humbled. Yes, I am a makeup artist and a singer/songwriter now.
I was visiting a friend in Paris in the spring of 2006, and while there, we had dinner at a very intimate little jazz club called Chez Papa. There was a band playing that night, and I joined in to sing 2 songs with them; the audience reaction kind of blew me away. They loved it. They bought me drinks, asked to take photos, and asked what my name was. That night, the audience’s reaction was inspirational.
I returned home and began to study with local musicians and vocal coaches, but within 8 weeks of returning home from Paris, I found out my husband and I were about to become a family of 3. I was pregnant. I put everything on hold. I always say I gave birth to him, but he gave life to me. After he was born, I felt I was ready to pursue my dream.
I recorded a demo with three very well-known jazz musicians and began to send it out. I started getting local bookings. However, that evening in Paris stayed in my memory. I reached out to a friend who I met when I was doing a film in France, and she happened to be a singer herself. She was living in Paris at the time. Her name is China Moses, and not only is she a singer with her own status, but she is also the daughter of NEA jazz master Dee Dee Bridgewater.
China has a very generous spirit and invited me to sit in on one of her sets at Paris’ legendary jazz club Sunset/Sunside. She introduced me to French pianist Raphael Lemonnier.
Raphael asked me if I would like to come back to work with him, and I did. That was the start of my next phase. He and I recorded my debut album together in 2017, and I began touring with him during my hiatuses.
Balance can be a challenge, but I believe the Divine has worked with me to enable me to do both. In all honesty, I believe I am supposed to sing, and I was given the ability as a gift to share. I am so grateful for the opportunity to express my whole artistic self.
Are you working on anything now, or do you have any projects that will be released soon?
Now there is the question I am extra excited to answer (laughs).
I have a new album that was just released on February 24th. The name of the album is Truth Be Told and is produced by legendary bassist/arranger/composer/producer John Clayton.
The title of the album comes from the fact that all the songs written or chosen to relate to the truths of my life and daily living, as well as the truths we all have in common. There are songs about the things we all go through – love, joy, sadness, family, belief in the positive, etc.
I am joined by 9 of LA’s best musicians and 2 of LA’s best vocalists on this project:
Josh Nelson is my MD (musical director), one of my writing partners and one of the most sought-after pianists, arrangers, and composers in Los Angeles. Josh was Natalie Cole’s pianist for many years and is a favorite to work with of both singers and instrumentalists alike. Josh’s hands have been used in major motion pictures as the hands of actors playing pianists.Trevor Ware of The Count Basie Orchestra on bass. John Clayton joins as a special guest on a duet with me for the ballad You Don’t Know What Love Is. Drummer Clayton Cameron, known as “The Brush Master,” who has worked with Tony Bennett, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., and Rickey Minor, to name a few. Kye Palmer, formerly of The Tonight Show Band, is on trumpet and flugelhorn. We also have Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated Jacob Scesney on tenor sax. Jacob has toured with Maroon 5, John Legend, and has worked on The Voice, Jimmy Fallon and American Idol when not on the road. Ivan Malespin is a Grammy-nominated trombonist who has worked with Herb Alpert and the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Carey Frank, who has played with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Michael Buble’ and Bruce Springsteen joined on the Hammond B3 organ. If you have seen the Will Ferrell film Anchorman and remember the jazz flute scene, then you have heard the incredible Katisse Buckingham play. Katisse also plays flute on this project. We are also joined by former Raelette, vocalist Val Geason and vocalist Lynne Fiddmont, who has shared her vocal gift with such greats as Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole, on the vocal version of the final track I’ve Got A Feeling and on the title track Truth Be Told.
We had a great CD release show last Thursday, March 2nd, at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato. What a fun night! I’ll be at The View Music Room in Torrance on Friday, April 7th, with a trio featuring Josh Nelson, Trevor Ware, and Kevin Van Den Elzen.
I found out last week that the album is currently the 7th most added album for radio airplay on jazz radio. I am so ecstatic to learn that. It’s available on iTunes, Spotify, and all the usual digital outlets.
I put a lot of work, thought, and love into writing the originals and choosing the instrumentation for each song, including the cover songs. My deepest desire is that the music touches the listener in many ways. I hope the music will create a listening experience that brings joy, provokes thought, uplifts, and motivates.
If you’d like to keep up with what’s happening on the music side, please reach out on www.angiewellsjazz1.com or you can find me on Instagram and Facebook at @angiewellsjazz
You can find me on the makeup side on Instagram @angiewellsmakeup
Hope to see you on both sides!!