As a costume designer, I’d been in a design rut for about ten years, slogging along from one project to another. Maybe I was a slave to the wage. With each new beginning, I’d hope to become inspired, but then disappointment would set in. I tried to stay positive and upbeat. I always wanted to bring something new to each project. I did my job very well, and I was respected by my peers, but in hindsight, all it amounted to were more projects on my resume. I was bored with the work and with the stories we were telling. I was numb. I said my prayers year after year, for a great project to design. A project that would make a difference, something that was different. I constantly had new ideas I thought would help me shift to another place professionally, but I couldn’t see them all the way through. When it came to giving up costume design, I just didn’t know how to walk away. Luckily, my buddy the universe, helped me hold out long enough so that I could be in the right place at the right time.
In 2012, I was fortunate to be introduced to Steven Soderbergh by my long-time collaborator, Michael Douglas. Steven was prepping Behind the Candelabra and didn’t yet have a costume designer. I was thrilled when he asked me join the team. It was my 60th project, but finally one that held magnificent challenges.
My prayers had been answered. I felt the thrill of creation and collaboration. It was exhilarating and explosive. Though it was challenging every day, each moment was heavenly. We were creating the world in which Liberace lived. It glistened and sparkled from beginning to end. Steven made a great film, and we were all acknowledged for our contributions to it. Everyone received Emmy nominations; Steven, himself, received three. I couldn’t imagine it getting any better than that!
Then we were there: the night of the awards had arrived. We were all nervous, but there was magic in the air. Everyone was winning! When my category was announced, my heart pounded beneath my ostrich-trimmed, white and pink dress, like never before. Jerry Weintraub and Scott Bakula opened the envelope and called my name. I rushed to the stage, in five-inch heels, to collect her: my Emmy.
Finally, there I was. I had arrived. I had become an award winning costume designer. In that moment, as I held her, looking out into the audience, I realized I was proud of all the projects I had designed in the past. They were what had led me on to that stage.
That moment changed my life forever. It was a dream come true. I had hoped and prayed for an opportunity to get out of that grinding design rut and back into the joy of design I once remembered. But even this was beyond my wildest dreams. It beamed me into the limelight and brought me back home: to my true love of design.
As I reflect on this past year since Emmy, my life has definitely changed. I’ve left the slave wager behind and have opened my heart to all things new and exciting. There is a saying: “just do it.” Well, I’ve become confident that I can do it, and that has helped me grow by leaps and bounds. My dreamscape becomes more of a reality every day. My passion to walk in beauty burns brighter than ever. I accept all invitations; I am inspired to do work I’ve never done before. And most importantly, with the support of Emmy’s golden light, I’ve learned to embrace myself, my body of work and my past, as it’s a road that will forever lead to a greater tomorrow.