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The woman who made 'Key and Peele' such a hair-raising show

by John Horn and Jonathan Shifflett | The Frame

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Amanda Mofield was the lead hairstylist for the "Key & Peele" show, which was a creative challenge. Comedy Central

There are dozens and dozens of Emmy categories, so we scoured beyond the headlines for interesting nominees in other areas.

And there it was: nominated for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special is Amanda Mofield. She was the Department Head Hairstylist for the Comedy Central show, “Key & Peele.”

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele played so many nutty characters on that show — and sometimes they played multiple characters in the same sketch. That’s a big challenge for a small-budget show on a cable network.

So we tracked down Mofield — who also worked on the ABC show Secrets and Lies — today to ask what it was like working on the series.

Interview Highlights:

How is the work you did on “Key & Peele” compared to other gigs?

Oh my gosh, it's so different. The hair that I did, I did everything and anything. In one week we had 84 different looks just on those two guys, and that's not even counting the other people that were in the show. After that week, I quit counting. And that was season three. 

I want to play a clip from an early skit from the show. This is called East/West College Bowl, and it’s several dozen college football players introducing themselves with increasingly ridiculous names.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gODZzSOelss

I love this skit! One of the jokes in this are the increasingly elaborate names and looks of all the different characters. You just have the two actors and you have to do 30 different looks?

Thirty-two.

How do you pull that off?

We did three of those [sketches], so I had [96] of those characters that they had to be. So whatever hair I could find, we would throw it together. I did extensions. We'd cut the extensions and I'd braid them. When we were going into that scene the first time, it only took us two hours to shoot. One [actor] would be in my chair, one would be on set shooting their [part], and then they'd switch back and forth. I had two long tables set up with all of the wigs and all of the hairpieces all laying out so that they could just go up and pick which one they wanted to be for that next person they'd be shooting. 

What’s the process for coming up with the looks of the characters? Have they written physical descriptions in the script or are you pitching the guys how you see the characters? 

Before a [shoot], we would go into a meeting and we would sit and talk about what the characters should look like. They would tell me what they were thinking they were supposed to be. If I had ideas I would give them to them. I had the idea of the "Air Marshal." Have you seen that one?

Yes!

The "Air Marshal" — I wanted to do that to Keegan on season one and he [said], I promise we will find [a character] to do this on. So finally, on season five we got to do it on Jordan, and it was amazing — the hat hair. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiWIOKKuyGE

Describe the hat hair and what the inspiration was? I think you saw something on the street, is that right?

Yes. Just this random person. It's Afrotex is what it's called. I just kind of manipulated it into the shape of a ball cap. Jordan sweats [a lot]. He gets really hot and it's not easy to keep that hair on, so making that and making it look real — you know, because I'm just molding it with my hands. It's not a form or a wig or anything. Then cutting it into shape and making it look natural.

Actors, especially ones who do period films, will say that wardrobe can really help them discover a character. Can hair and makeup do the same thing? And is it a little bit different in comedy?

Oh yeah. I would see Keegan and Jordan change into the person once they got that hair on. And makeup as well. Scott Wheeler and Suzie Diaz, they were amazing as well. 

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