When asked for any images she could share of her extended time on film sets, including Our Family Wedding, Barbershop and Meet Dave, costume designer Devon Patterson-Wilson remembers squeezing Angelina Jolie into a black corset on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. “It would be the only picture that I can think of that was a part of some kind of portfolio of my work,” she says. “[The studio] usually don’t like us to take pictures unless it’s for production.”
While visual proof may not exist, Patterson-Wilson’s work ethic and ability to continue to work with some of the best talent and accountants in the movie business has only grown. Her latest project is as costume supervisor for the upcoming Sparkle remake, which stars Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in her final on screen performance. BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Patterson-Wilson on the film’s Michigan set, where the bottom floor of Detroit’s historic Masonic Temple was covered with shimmering dresses and sequin bouncing off the walls. Surrounded by period pieces of her choosing as well as pinned up look boards with cut out magazine pages and color print outs, Patterson-Wilson is in her element and shares her vision for putting the visual spark in Sparkle.
How did you get your break in the movie industry?
I came up through the ranks doing non-union work making $50 bucks a day. It didn’t matter how long the hours [I made] $50 bucks a day [starting out] as a set costumer. And that’s how I learned the business, from the bottom up.
How long have you been supervising on feature films?
Off and on since 1998, I go back and forth sometimes as a Set Costumer or as a Key Costumer in addition to supervising. I’ve been supervising steadily for the past seven years.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as a costume supervisor?
My responsibility is the hire crew and the keep the budget for the films’ wardrobe department. It’s my responsibility to make sure that we’re on track for what our established budget is and I’m responsible for hiring crew and making sure that we have what we need on any given day as it relates to this department.
Why do you feel you’ve been so successful in the film industry?
I’m easy to get along with; I don’t complain and I don’t talk a lot; and I know what I’m doing. People trust me and I haven’t had any issues to date and most accountants love me.