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  • Mia Neal Sweetrocks Inspiring Woman

    Mia Neal Inspiring Woman

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    Mia Neal Sweetrocks Inspiring Women

    Gary, IN native Mia Neal made history as one of two Black women nominated for the first time for Oscars in the makeup and hairstyling category.

    A veteran of New York stage productions, films and movies, Mia has been based in New York since graduating from the Juilliard School of Professional Internship for Wigs and Makeup.

    After graduating from Horace Mann High School in 1997, Neal attended Merrillville Beauty College, and moved on to Columbia College in Chicago. She decided she wanted to live on a campus and enrolled at Jackson State University, a historically-Black college in Jackson, Mississippi.

    While working at a MAC Cosmetics counter in Jackson, a co-worker encouraged her to apply for the nine-month wig program at Juilliard in New York. “She never looked back after that,” said mom Dena Holland-Neal.

    Adapted from a 1982 August Wilson play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” traces the experiences of 1920s blues singer Ma Rainey and her entourage during a 1927 recording session in Chicago.

    Viola Davis plays Ma Rainey and Chadwick Boseman, who died from cancer last year, is a trumpet player fired during the recording session after a dispute with the star.

    Making the horsehair period-style wig that Viola Davis wore in early scenes in “Ma Rainey” was an intricate challenge for Mia. “I had to do it strand by strand,” said Ms. Neal who estimated it took her 60 to 80 hours. Then, she boiled and washed the wig and set it. The process softened the wig, but it still held its set. “It made us realize why she (Ma Rainey) probably wore it,” said Mia. Because of segregationist practices in the 1920s, the blues singer probably never knew if she’d be able to have her hair styled in a city so she needed a durable wig.

    Ms. Neal has several Broadway credits including a Drama Desk award for “Shuffle Along,” and “A Raisin in the Sun. ”She has numerous film and television credits, as well, including “Uncut Gems,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Projects are coming up with Tyler Perry in Atlanta and with Queen Latifah.

    She credits 89-year-old costume designer Ann Roth, also nominated for an Oscar for “Ma Rainey,” with being her mentor.

    Thank you Mia Neal (#MiaNeal) for being an Inspiring Woman!


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