UNCSA alum Paul Tazewell nominated for Academy Award for best costume design

Paul Tazewell, an alum of the School of Design & Production and board member of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), has been nominated for an Academy Award for best costume design for “West Side Story.” Additionally, alumni Stephen McKinley Henderson and Paloma Garcia-Lee each appeared in films nominated for Academy Awards for best picture. Nominations were announced today.

Stephen McKinley Henderson (B.F.A. Drama ’72) played the role of Thufir Hawat in the film “Dune,” which was one of 10 films to be nominated for best picture. Paloma Garcia-Lee (H.S. Drama ’08) played the role of Graziella in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” also nominated in the category. Two other UNCSA alumni have connections to “West Side Story”: Michelle Shiraziefard (School of Filmmaking ’16) was the condor operator in the camera department (for overhead shots) and Michelle Pflug (Design & Production ’16) was the costume coordinator.

Paloma in West Side Story

Paloma Garcia-Lee (far left) stars as Graziella in "West Side Story."

“As always, UNCSA alumni are being recognized at the highest level, and I am so proud of all of these individuals for their recognition by the academy,” said Chancellor Brian Cole. “It is a testament to our enduring alumni relationships that several of these alumni have given back to UNCSA in significant ways — Paul is a member of our UNCSA Board of Trustees and has funded a scholarship for students of color; Stephen returned to deliver an incredibly inspiring commencement address last year; and Paloma graced the cover of our alumni magazine, Scene, in 2020 in connection with her role in ‘West Side Story.’ I am truly humbled by their talent and generosity, and we are rooting for a Pickle sweep in March!"

Stephen in Dune

Stephen McKinley Henderson plays the role of Thufir in "Dune."

The 94th Academy Awards will be televised live at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday, March 27, on ABC.

Tony and Emmy Award-winning alumnus Paul Tazewell has been designing costumes for Broadway, regional theater, film and television, dance and opera productions for close to 30 years. He began his Broadway career with the groundbreaking musical "Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk," directed by George C. Wolfe. Most recently, in addition to “West Side Story,” Tazewell is known for his work with both of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning original Broadway productions of "Hamilton" and "In the Heights," both directed by Thomas Kail.

Other Broadway credits include "Ain't Too Proud," "The Color Purple," "Dr. Zhivago," "Memphis," "Caroline, or Change," "Elaine Stritch at Liberty," "Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam," "Lombardi," and "Magic/Bird." Revival work includes "Side Show," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Guys and Dolls," and "A Raisin in the Sun."

In the United States and across the globe, Tazewell has designed for such renowned companies as The Metropolitan Opera, The Bolshoi Ballet, The English National Opera, Theatre du Chatelet, The Public Theater, National Theatre UK, The Kennedy Center, The Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, The Chicago Lyric Opera and many more.

His feature film credits include "Harriet" for Focus Features, directed by Kasi Lemmons; "Hamilton" for Disney+, directed by Thomas Kail; and "West Side Story," directed by Steven Spielberg. Television credits include the HBO original film "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," starring Oprah Winfrey, and both "The Wiz Live!" and "Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert" for NBC.

In 2016, he received an Emmy Award for NBC's "The Wiz Live!," as well as a Tony Award for "Hamilton." Other notable honors include two Lucille Lortel Awards, four Helen Hayes Awards, a Princess Grace Foundation Fellowship and The Princess Grace Statue Award.

Tazewell holds an M.F.A. from New York University and a B.F.A. from UNCSA, where he was a student in the Costume Design & Technology Program. At UNCSA, he has served as a guest artist and the 2018 University commencement speaker.

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February 08, 2022