Says Adruitha Lee about getting an Academy Award nomination for her work in Dallas Buyers Club

This has been a busy time for Adruitha Lee. The hairstylist who worked on the multiple Oscar winning The Artist (2011) has worked on two of this year’s Academy Award heavies—12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club. The latter is based on the life of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic electrician in Texas circa 1985, who discovers he has AIDS. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée the film shows how Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, smuggles untested drugs across the border from Mexico. While the film, which is releasing this week, has got nominations for Best Picture and Actor (McConaughey) and Supporting Actor for Jared Leto, Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews have been nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. In this email interview Lee talks about the triumphs and travails his job entails. Excerpts.

What was your brief for styling Matthew McCounaughey and Jared Leto?

Well, the first time I met Matthew was when he came to see me at the director’s office. Jean-Marc had told me that he wanted everything to look real, didn’t want anything to be over the top. Matthew had already lost all the weight and the direction for me was to just make him look as much as the character, make him look real and like he was in 1985 Texas. Now with Rayon, it took me a while to create the brown wig that Rayon wears in most of the pictures. I did everything to that wig, to make it look like what Jean-Marc wanted it to. And the only thing that worked was when I took it out to the parking lot and drove over it with a car.

How did you come to work on the project?

I had heard about the project and I talked to my agent about it. I got a call one day and they said they wanted to send me a script which I read and then I found out that I was going to Skype with the director who was in Montreal. So we did a Skype interview and then they hired me.

Could you tell us about 12 Years a Slave?

When I found out that I got the project I was so excited. When I went to meet the director, I took all these mannequins I had done in different hair-styles in a basket to his office and said okay, this is what I can do. Prepping for that film was really difficult because of the subject matter. When I went into the research facility to research that time period there wasn’t a lot of pictures. The costume designer and the production designer there helped me with the research.

What is your dream project?

I would love to do a biography on Elvis Presley.

How do you choose a project?

You just hear about films, you start to think “Oh my god, I didn’t see that film, I would love to do that film.” There are so many films that I would’ve loved to do, but I didn’t get and there’s a few that I did get. You just go after the ones that really touch your heart. I’ve worked with a few directors and actors more than once. Mostly it’s the actor with whom you want to work with first and that weighs the decision as well.

What are your thoughts on the Academy Award nomination?

I am just over the moon. When I first heard that I had got the nomination I couldn’t believe it, I just couldn’t believe it. I was like wow! I was just doing my job, and then I get an Oscar nomination. I believe it hasn’t even sunk in yet. It’s very important to me. Getting a nomination from my peers, I mean it was people in the hair and make-up industry that voted me in for this nomination which is a win itself.