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July 20, 2016

The Mane Event

On the Starz series inspired by an NBA great, hairstyling is a slam dunk.

Maria Neuman
  • Starz
  • Starz
  • Starz

It's no surprise that the strong women who surround basketball star Cam Calloway on the Starz comedy Survivor's Remorse have equally strong hairstyles.

"There are a lot of different hair looks on a show like this," says Charles Gregory, head of the show's hair department. "We start at five in the morning and often go to very late, especially if there are two different looks for the characters being shot in one day."

Based on the meteoric rise of NBA star LeBron James (he's an executive producer), Survivor's Remorse follows Cam (Jessie T. Usher) as he moves from low-income life in Boston to the luxe life of a top Atlanta sports star. Tagging along is his family, which includes a serious female glam squad: mom Cassie (Tichina Arnold), sister M-Chuck (Erica Ash) and Missy (Teyonah Parris), the wife of his best friend and manager.

"I'll meet with the producer and the director of the different episodes and present various looks for each character along with mood boards," says Gregory, who was nominated for an Emmy for the acclaimed HBO film Lackawanna Blues; he's also been department head on multiple Tyler Perry films, even creating the signature Madea wig.

In season three of Survivor's Remorse, premiering July 24, the hairstyles — like a good plot twist — will take equally dramatic turns.

"There have been some big changes," Gregory says. "Missy was more of a comedic story line — she hated her haircut and ends up chopping it all off. M-Chuck goes from a short bob to a longer, edgier look with cornrows on one side and long, loose and bleached hair on the other."

While one might think the main challenge of his job would involve personalities, it's actually the elements. "Atlanta is so humid, and that is really tricky for hair and makeup," says Gregory, who works with two assistants.

"It helps that we work with wigs a lot. You can prep them beforehand to save on production time and also get away with using a lot more styling products." A great wig can take two hours to prep, but once it's set, he needs only 15 minutes to apply it.

"I got my first job years ago because I was really fast and easy to work with," Gregory says, "and that hasn't really changed. Also, I just love to make women feel beautiful."

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