How the Hair Department Head Modernized the Looks for the New Season of ‘Magnum P.I.’

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

We recently caught up with Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i, the hair department head for the upcoming fifth season of Magnum P.I. Season five of Magnum P.I. follows Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez), Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), and the team as they take on cases in Hawaii for a new adventure. 

Kekepania wanted to modernize the characters' looks by coloring the hair, designing wigs, and concentrating on cleaner haircuts. For Juliet Higgins, Kekepania wanted to create a new look for her while keeping it authentic to the character. She did that by coloring her hair to give it a more youthful feel. She stylized a half-piece and attached clips from a wig she designed to give it more volume and maintain the look throughout fight scenes. 

This season also includes a 1940’s flashback which required extensive research from Kekepania. Not only did she have to stay accurate to the 1940’s but she had to make sure it was also accurate to how people in Hawaii wore their hair at that time. She created looks for the main characters and all background actors by using wigs and styling their hair.

PH: Hi Kekepania! Can you share a bit about your professional background?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: I’m a licensed cosmetologist, a Paul Mitchell School Alumni, and Vidal Sassoon and other elite trainers. I’ve also served as the State Captain in California for the Professional Beauty Association. I’m also a makeup artist and nail tech. 

PH: What drew you to your role?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: Around 2006, I tried to join the makeup union as a special effects artist, but life just paused my dream of being a part of the union. Fast forward to a few years later, a friend of mine asked if I could do a color correction and possibly hair color. That role was my first hair union job, and it was on Tessa Thompson. I picked up roles as the third key hairstylist on a few projects, then eventually met Aggie Guerard Rodgers, an amazing distinguished costume designer, who told me I should try to become a hair department head because of my background in running departments and teams. One of my first department head hair jobs was with Eleanor Coppola with Cybill Shepherd, Rita Wilson, and Rosanna Arquette, to name a few.

PH: How did you become involved with Magnum P.I.?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: I was fortunate to be recommended from LA to come to Hawaii to be the key hair stylist last year, and in season 5 became the hair department head. It was great to come back home because I’m from Hawaii (born and raised), and Magnum PI was my first job here in Hawaii.

PH: Can you share your creative thought process behind modernizing the look of the characters, and what those characteristics were that you implemented?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: Since this was an episodic show, I watched previous seasons and really looked at the look and feel of the show pertaining to hair. Jay, who plays Magnum PI, just wanted to continue with his mid-fade haircut but to level his hair color a shade higher to see peaks of his hair not being so dark but to have a little bit of a shine that looks better on camera. I slowly brought Perdita Weeks' hair color a shade lighter to emphasize her beautiful facial features. I also warmed Kumu's hair, played by Amy Hill, because she's so warmed-hearted and always beautiful with a touch of aloha with her flowers. We started to put in a lot of work with her flowers being more uniquely tied to Hawaii and making them by hand that complimented her outfits. All styles or changes would go through our showrunner and writers/producers with approvals or changes.

PH: This season contains an episode with 1940s flashbacks. What type of research did you conduct to ensure you were sticking to that time period, and more specifically, in Hawaii?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: We did an episode with a 1940’s flashback. Did some searches through archives, Google, Hawaii museums, and library archives of Pearl Harbor pictures during that era pertaining to Hawaii fashion and hairstyles. I really wanted to stick to the styles of that era. I also collaborated with the costume department on the outfits chosen for that episode so that the hair complemented the outfits. 

PH: How long did this research take to conduct and where do you go to research something like this?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: It took me a couple of days, as we had very limited time, but I thoroughly searched online and in person. I also keep an archive online with my eras where I place and categorize the info. That helped me identify what works best, especially since we were filming in Hawaii.

PH: What were some of the challenges you encountered, and how did you mitigate those?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: I’ve dealt with many challenges, but I’m so proud to go through them! First, I BREATHE and then come up with a game plan to resolve. If it works, I’m stoked, but if it doesn’t go right, I go back and devise another plan.

PH: Can you describe some of your other projects you've worked on and how they differed and presented different creative opportunities for you?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: I’ve worked on The Matrix Resurrections. The hair designer was so creative. She gave me reign to color and brought the styles to life. I’ve been fortunate to complete the hair colors and cuts on Carrie Anne Moss (Trinity) and Jessica Henwick by coloring her hair blue and giving her a haircut. This was all done during the COVID shut down, so I actually diagrammed and wrote down the formulas for the hair designer just in case. I’ve also worked on Day Shift with Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg, which was so fun to be a part of, but that was mainly a huge stunt-driven movie, so I was tasked as the key hairstylist to ensure the wigs were used and executed.

PH: What's something someone may not know that you do in your job as a hair department head?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: Not a lot of people know, but hair department heads constantly work during the weekends. We are either shopping, sourcing wigs for future scenes, etc. We constantly work! 

PH: Can you share any upcoming projects you have in the works?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: I recently worked on the movie Paint, which is releasing in theaters on April 7th. I was the hair department head and designed the wig Owen Wilson wears. I also worked on the Sundance 2023 movie Fairyland, produced by Sofia Coppola, which is a heavy periodic hair-driven movie that I’m so proud of! 

ProductionHUB ProductionHUB Logo

Related Blog Posts
DP Chat: Marcus Friedlander on the Cinematography of That’s A Wrap
DP Chat: Marcus Friedlander on the Cinematography of That’s A Wrap
Published on Wednesday, September 20, 2023
In Review: Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set
In Review: Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set
It’s always fun to start off with a few questions for our ProductionHUB readers. So I ask…when you are doing a live production what do you need or want in a mic? Is it how good it sounds? Or maybe it’s reliability? How about the initial cost versus performance? These are all common questions to answer because all of those things matter to production professionals don’t they? That brings me to the topic at hand — we had the opportunity to put the Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set from Sennheiser to the test, and the results were exactly what you would expect (spoiler alert: it’s great)
Published on Monday, September 18, 2023
How Nature’s Healing Inspired Indie Horror Gem ‘No More Time’
How Nature’s Healing Inspired Indie Horror Gem ‘No More Time’
Dalila Droege, the talented writer, director, and producer of the indie horror film No More Time, has been making the festival rounds. No More Time follows a couple who flees a big city in Texas, seeking refuge from a virus outbreak in a small Colorado mountain town. However, the town proves to be far from idyllic, with mysterious disappearances and unsettling characters complicating the couple’s quest for safety. As the husband and wife grapple with the virus’s effects, their actions take a dark turn, adding layers of suspense and intrigue to the narrative.
Published on Monday, September 18, 2023


There are no comments on this blog post.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.