If you don’t know who Hannah Beachler is, it is time for you to get your entire life. From her entrance into the world as the product of an architect and interior designer to her amazing work in your favorite films, this woman of color possesses more magic than one could explain. The Centerville, Ohio native is responsible for envisioning and creating the visuals for Fruitvale Station, Creed, Lemonade and most recently, Marvel’s Black Panther. Beachler has proven herself time and time again, which is why she is the only woman of color at the highest level of production design. While it has been said many times that Hollywood lacks diversity, we are beyond proud to have a woman of such magnitude representing for all of the colored girls around the world. It is just as important to have women of color behind the camera as it its to have them in front of the camera. Talk about a glow up, Beachler went from scraping kitchen floors as a set dresser to being an essential entity of Oscar award winning films. Here’s our in-depth conversation with the visionary….
EGL: When did you fall in love with fashion design?
Hannah Beachler: I fell in love with fashion design at a young age. I can remember putting on my grandmother’s costume jewelry and 1950s prom dresses and parading around, hahaha! It’s always been there. Then, at around 13 years old, I started sewing — which I don’t do much anymore — and wrapping fabric around my dress form.
EGL: You studied fashion design at University of Cincinnati and film at Wright State University, why did you choose these majors?
Hannah Beachler: I’ve always loved fashion design and thought that was what I’d do for the rest of my life. UC has a great program, DAAP (Design, Art, Architecture and Planning), and was in the state. When I found film I thought the best way to expand my knowledge on the medium was to go to school. As I was a single mother with a toddler, I needed to be somewhere where I had family support and was accessible financially. WSU was in the backyard of my hometown so it seemed like the most logical choice.
EGL: Fruitvale Station was one of your first major projects, what was your inspiration?
Hannah Beachler: The inspiration was the director, Ryan Coogler, and of course The Bay area, Oakland. It was important to get this one right and for me to see Oakland the way Ryan does. Given he was born and raised there, understanding his perspective was integral to the film.
EGL: Were you privy to the Oscar Grant story before joining production? If so, how did it affect your outlook on the fashion design in the film?
Hannah Beachler: I wasn’t familiar with the story before I started production. I think the biggest thing about the costumes in the film is that even though the events happened in 2009, which seems not long ago, it was actually a ‘period.’ Aggie Rodgers, the costume designer – who is one of the most well- known costume designers in the world (Return of the Jedi, Color Purple, Beetlejuice) — did a fantastic job.
EGL: Of course every girl loved Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” film for which you were the production designer; what was your favorite part about working with the queen?
Hannah Beachler: She’s a visionary. It was a pleasure working on Lemonade. Beyonce is talented beyond words. The most interesting part to me was that it has such a different, almost fractured creative, and a strong empowering message.
EGL: Moonlight is also in your repertoire. Tell us how you developed the looks throughout the film.
Hannah Beachler: The creative for Moonlight was about seeing Miami in a way that is both beautiful and devastating, and understanding how that influences the film. For me, it was a lot of color control as a way to separate the three chapters of Chiron’s story. We did a lot on that film — painting and reimagining many of the spaces. The film starts out in the 1990s, which is 25-plus years ago now, and that also dictated how we approached the look of the project.
EGL: We are so excited to see your amazing work in Marvel’s Black Panther. What are you most proud of from this specific project?
Hannah Beachler: That I made it until the end, hahahaha! I’m most proud of having worked with Ryan Coogler again and that we were able to bring something truly extraordinary and special to the screen out of love. Love for comics, love for African and African American culture, and love and respect for the magnitude of what this film represents in the bigger picture. It was incredibly hard work, and too, we wanted to tell a story with all the bells and whistles of a great comic book movie.
EGL: We are sure you have seen the memes of how excited the black community is to see this film of predominantly black actors and actresses. How does it feel to be a part of something so groundbreaking?
Hannah Beachler: It’s an honor to be part of something of this magnitude. I believe, it is our combined experiences in this world that created Black Panther and that is something I’m proud to have been a part of. Listening to people, traveling to the Motherland and connecting and having that experience. Film is, at the end of the day, an interpretation of the filmmaker’s thoughts, experiences, pain, joy, and so on. It takes all of your being when you’re working on a project and I’m proud that we’ve left something of ourselves on the screen.
EGL: It is no secret that you are straight up magic. What does the term #BlackGirlMagic mean to you and how has it affected your work?
It means strength and will. It means something that was always there and is now being recognized for what it is –REAL. -Hannah Beachler
Written by: Joce Blake, Senior Fashion Editor