It took over 200 beads to recreate Venus and Serena Williams’ iconic look for ‘King Richard’

What I don’t like is seeing braided wigs on TV – they make me uncomfortable. But when you’re shooting a movie, you can’t necessarily put that many beads in an actor’s hair every day. I have to find a way to make it look like it is of them hair, so I decided to do a half wig for the look. I have done several versions of wigs for the tennis pair, the camera pair, and the actresses. We start by braiding the front hair. That only takes 20 to 30 minutes. Then we will put the wig on the back. Venus’s character has individual braids in the front, and Serena’s character’s hair isn’t really frizzy, it’s braided more like an onion – it’s pointing upwards.

We don’t count all the beads we used for the wig, but there are over 200 beads for each. We use a wire hook to place the beads in the front, can crochet two to three beads at a time. The wigs are really heavy. [The actors] really necessary for a healthy neck. It took about eight hours to create the wigs and a team of three: me, Lily Bryerson and a braider I use, who is @dollfacedrea on Instagram.

To style our hair and wigs, we used three products: Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion, NS Krystal Eco Syler gel, and Lock N Gel, which I discovered while I was doing To 2 Americas. One day, Venus and Serena were both on set and talked about different hairstyles. [When they saw the wigs,] they complimented us and said that they really liked what we did.

You won’t see the beads until the end of the movie. [Director] Reinaldo Marcus Green wanted that moment at the last minute because it was the crucial moment. It’s a rite of passage. The beads are part of the journey, it’s very symbolic.

To be able to portray the Williams sisters who are an inspiration to African-American girls and women means it all. Richard Williams has no knowledge of the sport and he is able to learn it in a way we have never seen before, which allows his children to win – and they are still winning for. to this day. He’s a great man and I’m so glad we can have this movie in our history.

A version of this story originally appeared in the December/January 2021/2022 issue of Allure. Learn how to sign up here.

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