20, No.10, Nov.16, 2000
On the Job: Lisa Lillig
Mabry, Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bill Wiegand
Lillig is a wig and makeup director, Krannert Center for the
Performing Arts. Shes worked for the theater department
for six years, and holds a masters of fine arts degree from
the UI in costume technology.
makeup director, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Shes
worked for the theater department for six years, and holds a masters
of fine arts degree from the UI in costume technology. A native of Kansas
City, Mo., she has a bachelors degree in fine arts from Emporia
State University at Emporia, Kan. She lives in Champaign.
me what kinds of things you do in this job.
One thing is that I build wigs. We buy a wig and tear it apart, primarily
just using the back half. Then we replace the top half with silk, and
we put whats called a ventilated front on the front of it. Using
a needle about the size of a head of a pin we individually crochet or
latch hook individual strands of hair with a ventilating hook into that
fabric. We individually hand-tie pieces of hair.
Why do you do that?
Because store-bought wigs have a harsh line that sits right along the
hairline and you dont want that. So we make these specifically
to the hairlines of each actor and actress. So every time we do a show
we have to measure peoples heads and adjust the wigs or make new
We make about 11 wigs a year from scratch. We will deal with anywhere
from 30 to 35 wigs and facial pieces each season. We also do blood work
for the shows.
What do you mean blood work?
When actors bleed, spit up blood, choke blood, wipe blood, spurt blood
we have to deal with all of that. We decide what the blood is
going to be and the prop department decides how the delivery of the
blood will work.
And theres makeup. I love makeup, and Id say Im more
into makeup than hair and more into hair than costuming. But I love
makeup because you can do anything with it. You can build three-dimensional
noses or chins or take out their eyebrows. You can make somebody look
completely different than who they are.
I bet you have a heck of a lot of fun at Halloween.
No, I dont. You know why? We do it all the time. We totally hide
at Halloween. People will come knocking on our door Do
you have any white face paint? What should I be? But
we have Halloween in our studio every day. We deal with makeup and costumes
all the time, and its a good time for us all the time.
Do you design the way that the actors will
look in their makeup?
No, our students getting degrees in costume design actually design the
costumes and they also decide what the hair and make up will look like
and what they want the audience to perceive. Well then have a
meeting and decide if the actors will be wigged and how to go about
doing that. My job is to make that happen and to teach the students
how to use their makeup to give the appearances they want.
This seems like it would be an exciting job.
We have a lot of fun, but we work like crazy. We do approximately 14
shows in a nine month season and then we do three summerfest
shows. So our department facilitates all those hair and makeup needs
for 17 productions in a year. We work a lot.
Do you have to be at all the performances?
No I dont run the performances. The students do. We train the
crew to put the wigs on and set the girls hair if it needs to
be curled. And the students do a great job of it.
What part of your job do you like the best?
I think the best part of my job is being able to make somebody look
completely different from who they are. Its that kind of metamorphosis
that I can help them with that can help them develop their characters
and helps them really give a wonderful performance. Thats the
most exciting part I think.
Whats the worst part?
For me, its the knotting work on the wigs. Its tedious.
But I love to style hair. I love to be on crews. I like that kind of
interaction with the performers. I like to be back there and help them
look beautiful and primp them and all that.
What do you do to keep busy when youre not at home?
I work throughout the community at Station Theater and at Parklands
theater. I did a wig for Morgan Freemans daughter. Shes
a Tina Turner impersonator. I do some other stuff. I do a lot of party
planning. I also am a wedding consultant. And on top of my job here
as a wig and makeup person, I also teach three classes a semester. Two
are in theatrical makeup for freshmen and the other is the history portion
of costume history.
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame in your lifetime?
Not yet. Ive done a lot but I havent had my fame yet. Ive
worked on small movies. I worked on an NBC miniseries called Cross
of Fire starring JoBeth Williams and I met her. I did Truman
starring Gary Sinise. He was very nice. All I did was knock on his door
and give him his sweats for the next day. Sometimes thats your
only brush with fame.
Ive also done some work for police officers to help them come
up with looks to help them with undercover work. I like that. I like
using my work to help somebody else.