A Q&A with HBO’s “Girls” Hair Designer
The sixth and final season of HBO’s “Girls” premieres Sunday night, and, if you’re like us, you’re probably trying to soak up all things Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna before the final chapter closes and leaves us all heartbroken and counting down the days until the movie (seriously, it might be a thing).
Lucky for us, the hair on “Girls” was often just as fascinating as the characters themselves (and was integral in helping tell their stories), which gave us an excuse to call up Sherry Heart, the official hair designer of the series, and gab about the best “Girls” hair moments.
So as we prepare to say goodbye to our favorite group of twenty-nothings, we caught up with Sherry (who might be the most devastated “Girls” fan there is) to talk Zosia Mamet’s infamous donut updo, what’s in store for Hannah’s hair this season and why there will never be another show like “Girls.”
BTC: With “Girls,” you landed one of the most coveted jobs in the beauty industry. How did you get your start in the TV and film business?
Sherry: I was working at a salon in Minneapolis, Minn. the same time Prince was filming “Graffiti Bridge” at Paisley Park. We went out there as a salon to work on the movie. At the time, there was a tax incentive program in Minneapolis which brought in a lot of films from L.A., so that’s where I got my start. That was my first movie, and I worked on more films in Minneapolis after that. When the tax incentive ended, I knew I would either have to go to New York or L.A. if I wanted to pursue my career, and I chose New York.
BTC: So how did you end up working on “Girls?”
Sherry: I had been working on various TV shows and films, and a friend of mine I often worked with recommended me for the pilot. It was different than anything I’d ever done because they wanted us to make the hair look really messy—like the characters do their own hair. We would constantly get notes from HBO saying [the hair] had to look worse.
BTC: Yeah, as a hairdresser—whose job it is to style hair—how did you make sure it never looked “styled?”
Sherry: That was a very hard thing for me to do—to be a hands-off hairdresser. You really just have to have an eye for mess. [laughing] It’s like you halfway do the hair, and then you just have to say “done.” And a lot of times in the final touches right before they’d roll, I’d go in there and mess it up a bit more.
Sherry and Lena Dunham on the final shooting day of “Girls.”
But throughout all the seasons, they always gave me creative license to create these hairdos that were funny. I was going for comedy—what would make the scene even funnier, without being too distracting.
BTC: What do you think was the most iconic “Girls” hair moment?
Sherry: I would have to say the Shoshanna donut. That and Jessa’s across-the-forehead braid. Those are the two that Saturday Night Live parodied. That was a big compliment, and it was so funny.
Shoshanna’s donut ‘do received a lot of
attention and was featured on SNL’s “Girls” spoof.
BTC: How did you decide on the looks for each episode?
Sherry: It’s definitely a collective. The director has a lot of say, and then you’ve got the producers who have kill rights to a lot of things, and then the actors, too. Lena has the most say-so because she’s the creator of the show. She would give me notes on a lot of the girls. And then when she would direct her own episodes, she would have total say-so. It was actually easier when Lena directed because it was what she wanted, and that was it.
But a lot of it—like that donut—my department came up with. The [Jessa] braid, we came up with. A lot of the funny hairdos.
BTC: What would people be surprised to learn about working on the set of “Girls?”
Sherry: How much of a love fest it is. Working for network television, you can have really long hours—sometimes 16-hour days. It’s a ‘drive them and push them hard’ mentality, and it’s a lot of work that’s not accompanied by a lot of sleep. It’s like they don’t care about human welfare.
But “Girls” was completely different. They cared about whether or not you got sleep; whether or not you had a life. Everybody involved made sure they kept shorter days so they didn’t wear us out. It was a humane production. Everybody was happy to be there. And that is probably the number one reason we loved each other so much. We were always very supportive of each other. I already miss it…there will never be another show like that.
BTC: Do you work with the “Girls” actors in other capacities?
Sherry: I leave the coloring up to their stylists (they all have their own stylists and colorists). But I’ll sometimes do red carpet events or photo shoots…I work with Jemima [Kirke] a lot. I’m one of the hairdressers her people call when she’s in need of an event style.
BTC: What are some of your best on-set hair tips?
Sherry: The one thing I can never go to set without is clear mascara. It’s perfect for taming flyaways—especially if an actor is backlit. And I use Amika products a lot—their tools are great. I like their straightening iron and their Polished Perfection Straightening Brush.
BTC: What’s been your favorite part of working on “Girls?”
Sherry: Starting out on a small show that just blew up. And watching all these actors evolve throughout the years. And the fact that I was allowed complete creative freedom with the hair.
BTC: What’s been the most difficult part?
Sherry: The fact that it ended. We are all very sad. When summer comes—because that’s when we usually filmed—we’re all going to be missing each other quite a bit!
BTC: Whose hair do you think has told the best story throughout the seasons?
Sherry: I’d have to say Hannah’s [Lena Dunham’s] hair. Hannah was never the best hairdresser—meaning she couldn’t do her own hair, so we always did it extra messy. But there was a time when she was trying to get her life together, so her hair was a little cuter. And then there was a time when she wasn’t quite getting it together…and then this last season you’ll see there’s a lot of fringy hairdos because she’s trying different things and she’s really trying to grow up, so she’s experimenting a bit more.