The portrayal of nails in entertainment media is usually hit or miss. Nail salon environments are generally stereotypical portrayals of bumbling salon workers who can’t effectively communicate, or serve as the foil and fodder for comedy – and always at the nail tech’s expense. the manicurist behind Claws TNT
A new promising TV project is on its way from TNT and executive producer Rashida Jones. According to TNT, “‘Claws’ is a midnight-dark, wickedly funny meditation on female badness set in a South Florida nail salon. It follows the rise of five diverse and treacherous manicurists working at the Nail Artisan of Manatee County salon, where there is a lot more going on than silk wraps and pedicures. Claws is about good women caught in bad places with worse men. It’s the story of hardworking women trying to get by in this economy, set against the surreal, bright, gritty landscape of Florida and the luscious, absurd, extreme excesses of the crime world.”‘ the manicurist behind Claws TNT
With a cast led by Niecy Nash and Karrueche Tran, this project seems like it might actually show some accurate aspects of life as a nail technician. Originally developed as a half hour comedy for HBO, the series was revamped into an hour long “dramedy” for TNT. It premieres June 11 at 8pmCST/9pm EST.
I sat down with Gracie J, of The Editorial Nail, who serves as nail department head on set of “Claws.” She was kind enough to answer about a hundred questions that I had about what it is like to work on this kind of production. the manicurist behind Claws TNT
The Nailscape: What does a typical day on set look like for you?
Gracie J: “A typical day on set for our team consists of script and call sheet break downs and preparing nail sets for the cast. On days where we are working on our episodes, we are sometimes MIA working til wrap – mass producing nails.”
How do you determine the characters’ nail styles, and how much input does wardrobe, the actors, and production have on the final designs?
GJ: “Creating looks for the characters is a collaborative effort. Normally the artist assigned to each episode has to be able to breakdown a story and the characters while taking into account what’s going on in their lives. Once the design pitches are approved by the producers, writers and directors, we create the looks that are then forwarded to the other creative teams. Cast of course always share their inspirations and what they’d like to see more of on their nails. That’s always fun! Sometimes we learn a lot of little things from the talent you’d never think they know.”
Are you creating full cover nails or are you maintaining enhancements on the actors?
“We create and design press ons!! You’d be surprised how tedious the process is. It’s a lot of attention to detail in order to make sure they come across as actual enhancements or real nails.”
For continuity purposes, do you have to create backup nails or duplicate sets in case something needs to be reshot?
“Always. There are no ands, ifs, or buts. That is a must.”
Are there any scenes where the script or plot determined the nail design?
“When I do my nails, it usually tells a story relating to how I’m feeling during that time, day, or week in my life etc. While other people wear their hearts on their sleeves, we do so on our nails. And being that this show houses five leading women who all work together in a nail salon, with very interesting lives, their nails definitely will tell a story as well.”
Tell us about your team: who do you have working with you and how did you choose them to join your team?
“Our In-house team of artists are myself, Elissa Schell (@nailsby.Elissa), Morgan Dixon (@madnails) and Katherine St. Paul Hill (@StPolished.) Elissa is originally from NY, we’ve worked together on countless projects. She is also an educator. Morgan and Katherine are locals in NOLA who are super talented and very with the trends in their city.”
What is your work station set-up like? Are you in a typical hair and makeup trailer, or something more specialized?
“Nails is a whole beast of its own. We have a complete department and trailer dedicated to nails.”
Do you have any tips for working on a TV/film set/in confined or not “ideal” spaces for nails?
“Learn to float, and learn to float really well. Lol.” the manicurist behind Claws TNT
What have been some of the biggest logistic challenges?
“Staying within your allotted budget. This is the first time there has ever been a department solely dedicated to nails on a TV set. We’re used to getting the shorter end of the stick, maybe a little runt table in the corner somewhere. And to be a part of a show in which this is a first for everyone, many whom have underestimated the very involved process of mass nail production, learning to work with what you’re given is #MajorKey”
How did your session experience help you to take on a lead nail stylist position?
“My background as a nail stylist and artist extends from Commercial, AD/Campaign, Editorial, and Runway work etc. overall prepared me for this role. Having worked on numerous sets in a number of different industries, you pick up a lot on how to work around and with people. It’s always a growing process and you learn so much from each other. Those experiences continue to prepare me for whatever is yet to come.” the manicurist behind Claws TNT
Do you have any nail sponsors you’d like to shout out?
“A huge shout of to LuxaPolish, NailLabo USA, CND, and OPI for helping us create beautiful work!!!”
Be sure to watch Claws on TNT when it premieres on June 11! Many thanks to Gracie J for her time in answering my questions and shedding some light on the awesome responsibility of leading a nail department. the manicurist behind Claws TNT