Giving the “Abbott Elementary” Teachers a Glow Up With the Hair & Makeup Maestros Moira Frazier and Constance Foe

As summer shimmers just ahead and another school year wraps up, we take time now to reflect on the fire looks our teachers were serving. The educators at Abbott Elementary gave it their all through two semesters of change. As they navigated celebrations and setbacks, this season was filled with transformations guided by Hair Department Head Moira Frazier and Makeup Department Head Constance Foe.

Janine Teagues’ (Quinta Brunson) relentless optimism and dedication to her students saw a major payoff when her big ideas caught the attention of the school district. She was recruited for a fellowship, stepping into a more visible professional role. In light of a recent breakup and job offer, Frazier and Foe elevated Janine’s look to take her into the community leadership position.

QUINTA BRUNSON. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

“Me and (series creator) Quinta [Brunson] were like, we envision Janine going on YouTube trying to figure out how to style curly hair. What do I need to do? What products do I need to use? That’s why this year, you see her hair a little bit more manageable. It looks a lot more defined in her curl pattern,” Frazier noted. “That middle part just brings more dominance and confidence to her, which is why we ended up doing it that way. It sets a high standard and makes a statement for her.”

The sparkly new glint in Janine’s eye doesn’t just come from her excitement over new school initiatives. She also started playing with bolder makeup products. According to Foe, mixing in metallics was the biggest change in Janine’s routine.


“We started doing little jewel tone eyeliners, and when I tell you it was so dark to the naked eye, it was black,” Foe explained. “But when you start to see it in the light, it was like an emerald or an amethyst, and it would match what she would have on, and she was more cognizant of what she was doing this time instead of just, ‘Ok, I’m going to school,’ and she just put on lip-gloss and her regular black or brown eyeliner. She actually spent time in the mirror and said, ‘Ok, I’m ready for the day.”

Abbott’s flamboyant principal, Ava Coleman (Janelle James), also leveled up her look. Although she typically favors style over substance, a summer endeavor steered her in a new direction. After a trip to the halls of Harvard and completing an unrelated professional course, she adopted a more academic style.

“For Ava’s character, we wanted to touch on a little bit of texture and more quality this season,” Frazier said of Ava’s wigs. “This season, when she steps into her role as principal, it’s being taken a little more seriously because of this whole, ‘I went to Harvard’ thing. Even though it was online, she wanted to be taken more seriously. So that’s why we’re seeing a bit of toned-down Ava but with a bit more of a statement. Because there’s no more of a statement than to have a middle part, straight down, all the way, exaggerated, 30 inches. It’s still Ava, but it reads that ‘I’m being taken seriously.’”

JANELLE JAMES (9:00-9:32 p.m. EST), on ABC. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

Frazier is a one-stop shop, producing every wig used on the show, including guest actors. She makes a full lace wig in five to seven days with only the highest quality lace and 100% human hair. With cameras reaching 8K resolution, she has to be careful that the lace is not visible to the human eye, or it will be picked up on screen.

“Literally, if there’s any repairs that need to be done, I’m getting it done in a day,” Frazier revealed. “Every guest cast got my high-quality ventilation because I can ventilate a hairline in a day. So, when we had Tatyana Ali, who came in to play ‘Ava 2.0’, I sat there and did her hairline the day before she played on the episode, and I had to do it that day. When she came in the following day, she had a brand-new wig that matched her exact hairline.”

JANELLE JAMES, TATYANA ALI. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

In the emotional and revealing episode “Mother’s Day,” Frazier leaped into a new level of wigs for the show. Several of the Abbott colleagues agree to spend the holiday at a drag brunch where hairstyles are famously maximized and competitively flawless.

“I really, really loved how the queens came through with the hair, the makeup, the wardrobe,” Frazier beamed. “Everything just felt so right. It looked absolutely amazing and read beautifully onscreen, even in the 8K cameras. I’m very, very proud of that work. I’m proud of the structural design that I did on that. It was a beautiful enhancement to see it all play out between myself, my team, Dustin Osborne and Christina Joseph, and our guest hair stylist who came on to help put the wigs on because we can’t do everybody.”

SHEA COULEÉ, CHRIS PERFETTI.(Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

Glamorous entertainment icon Sheryl Lee Ralph shines as Barbara Howard, the principled and orderly matron of the school. The Emmy winner has alluded to the transformative nature of her wig as she embodies her character.

“Based on the interviews Sheryl has been doing, the wig is a character in itself,” Frazier explained. “Barbara doesn’t show up until we put the wig on. Once the wig was on Sheryl Lee Ralph, she became Barbara Howard. We made that wig like that because so many people you know have that exact hairstyle. They have that exact personality, and that exudes that type of character. Everyone has a Barbara in their life, whether they’re an aunt, a cousin, a friend of a friend, even a grandmother.”

SHERYL LEE RALPH. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

Barbara’s makeup look is timeless and impeccable. Even through the trials of corralling a room full of messy kids all day, she never has a smudge or smear. Foe said that Ralph brings her own vision of the character to the table.

“Miss Sheryl and I collaborated on her look, and we came up with her classic look of grace,” Foe said. “She always has that cut crease, but it’s like the pretty Black girl cut crease. Then she has a mauve lip, or her bold browns and reds go with her cardigans. She really does have a hand in it.”

In the mid-season episode “Panel,” Foe’s greatest challenge was concealing rather than highlighting. Teacher Gregory Edie’s arms are famously admired among his coworkers, but when he bears it all, makeup must cover actor Tyler James Williams’ many tattoos. In a heated basketball match with the students, Foe’s team had to make sure that his real-life ink didn’t show through.


“[Tyler] has tats from his fingers all the way, everywhere,” Foe revealed. “All on the insides of his arms, all on his forearms, on his chest, on his neck. I came up with the perfect formula of color to match his arms. I was talking with lighting to ensure that lighting in our trailer matched the set so that once he left our trailer, he looked exactly the same on set and was natural. It literally took me about an hour to cover both arms and his chest area when he played basketball. I had to shellac him, for lack of better terms, with tattoo cover because he was going to be sweating. I had to make sure it didn’t run off.”

TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS, ZACK FOX. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)

Of course, the heart of Abbott Elementary is the students, but that makes for a lot of young actors for Frazier and Foe to prep each day. Both department heads are hands-on and involved in making sure that everyone looks ready to learn.

“We go through each and every kid, make sure there is no Cheeto dust on their fingers or their faces,” Foe teased. “Making sure they have lotion, making sure there’s no ice cream or anything. We have said they can’t have donuts anymore because we have little icings everywhere.”

Both teams are dedicated to ensuring that each child is camera-ready and looks appropriate for the scenes.

“I wanted to make it feel very authentic,” Frazier noted. “If you ever really pay attention to the background, you’ll see a lot more braids, twists, and child hairstyles because these kids are not the kids you see on Instagram. These kids are kids, and that’s what we’re trying to bring back that playful era so that they can remain children.”

That includes being cognizant of the script, including location.

“You’ve gotta remember, this is in Philly. This is not in California. Children are not going to come out with a wash-and-go set when it’s 20 degrees outside. I’m from Ohio, so I would like to know. My mom is not sending me out with a freshly washed head so I can catch a cold, as she would say. Don’t nobody got time to take off work because you got sick,” Frazier laughed.

Abbott Elementary is available to stream on Hulu.

Featured image: TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS, QUINTA BRUNSON. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)


Kelle Long

Kelle has written about film and TV for The Credits since 2016. Follow her on Twitter @molaitdc for interviews with really cool film and TV artists and only occasional outbursts about Broadway, tennis, and country music. Please no talking or texting during the movie. Unless it is a musical, then sing along loudly.