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Head Stylist Moira Frazier Shares How She’s Shaping The Culture On The Set Of ‘Abbott Elementary’

A permanent smile radiates from my face while watching ABC’s hit sitcom, Abbott Elementary. Is the storyline or the will-they-won’t-they love story budding between Janine Teagues and Gregory Eddie the cause? Absolutely. But underneath the hilarious punchlines and perfectly executed jokes, there’s another story to take note of.

And it’s all about hair.

Moira Frazier, the Emmy-nominated Hair Department Head of Abbott Elementary, is the stylist bringing each character's hair story to life.


And with the world of film and television being a space where success often hinges on being in the right place at the right time, Fraizer attributes her entry into the industry to working “small $100-$200 jobs” early on. As a licensed cosmetologist with over 20 years of experience in the beauty industry and more than a decade in entertainment, Frazier has established herself as a hair maven in her own right.

Being the Hair Department Head of a Hollywood set can be made to look effortless, but Frazier says that work all begins with “meeting, upon meeting, upon meetings.”

“Once I get a script, we’re breaking down every character from the standpoint of how they’re written,” she tells xoNecole. “I'm going into the psyche of each [Abbott] character we’re developing to see what this person is like.” As a viewer, it’s easy to spot the intention behind the character’s hair story as they embody personalities and even figures we might know in real life.

Take Barbara Howard, for instance. A poised, matriarchal presence among the teachers, with a church background that keeps her grounded in her work and a beacon of wisdom when needed. For here, a classic pixie cut just makes sense. “We all know that older lady at the church, honey,” Fraizer says. “She'll never change her hair. She wears the same wig for years and years.”

Moira Frazier

Courtesy of Moira Frazier

For Ava Coleman, an around-the-way, career-oriented, bougie cousin archetype played by Janelle James, a slick, long, yet kinky straight style was chosen. “When it comes to hair, especially on Ava, the hair has to move,” she tells xoNecole. “If you notice, none of my wigs on the show are stiff because, working with Janelle James, she moves a lot, and she talks with her hands. So it’s important for me to use super high-quality hair.”

Creating wigs that match the highest quality standards is no small feat, especially in the latest season of Abbott where their 8K cameras captured every detail. Frazier dedicates an entire week to building each full lace wig from scratch. “We have to step our game up this season because we filmed in 8K cameras, which means you're going to see everything,” she says. “I had to get lace that's not available on the commercial market, my lace gets flown in from London.”

Unlike traditional methods that involve simply bundling hair, her wigs are created by hand, resulting in a natural and flexible appearance. “And when I say from scratch, I mean I ventilate every wig,” she punctuates. This meticulous process ensures the wigs are custom-fitted and highly realistic, particularly for high-profile clients like Tatyana Ali and other guest stars, to achieve an impeccable finish.

Over the last three seasons, we’ve seen the evolution of our Philly-based characters, not just in how they present themselves but in how they’re coming into who they are as a person. This is particularly true for Janine Teagues.

On Abbott Elementary, Janine's hair evolution mirrors the universal experience of growing into oneself, particularly for young women just trying to figure themselves out. “She's a young teacher in her early 20s, just graduated college, and she's trying to find herself. We've all been there, trying to find our look. She's coming out of that awkward stage and trying to get into adulthood and womanhood,” she says.

In the first season, Janine is seen with her natural curly hair, a look that signifies her initial stage of self-discovery. As the seasons progress, her hairstyles evolve, symbolizing her gradual shift towards maturity and self-confidence, experimenting with straight hair and on to a half-up, half-down style. These changes reflect her exploration of different looks and her journey towards finding a style that truly represents who she is. “It's like she's easing into these looks,” Frazier says.

On the set of shows where characters constantly change their styles, proper hair care is essential. Fraizer uses her Lace Lock Melting Spray instead of glue to secure wigs, to hold the hair in place for the duration of filming. Unlike glue, which can be impractical for daily application, the melting spray and her unique Lace Lock Wig Grip provide a reliable hold without causing damage.

This thoughtful approach to hairstyling on Abbott Elementary underscores the importance of hair in the self-expression, identity, and representation of Black women both on- and off-screen.

Janine Plays Barb and Melissa Perfectly - Abbott Elementary

Black hair carries profound cultural and personal significance, a reality that deeply influences hairstyling choices for Black characters on television. For Fraizer, the styles, colors, lengths, and textures are deliberate in accurately portraying Black hairstyles to the masses. “Because it has to make sense,” she says. “As Black people, we wear our hair in so different ways. It would have been easy to put everybody in a super kinky curly wig on our show, but for us, I wanted to show versatility.”

By embracing this diversity, the show honors the cultural richness and individuality of Black hair, ensuring that every character’s hairstyle, as well as the child actors, adds a meaningful contribution to the narrative.

For Black women aspiring to excel in the world of styling and department leadership, Frazier says that the journey to the top is paved by continuous growth and cultivating strong relationships.

“Don't burn the bridge along the way,” she says. “You have to have a positive attitude and be ready to come to work and do the work. You can never give up because one job can lead to the next job, and that can lead to the biggest job.”

She continues, “Learn how to do everything. It's okay to specialize in one thing — but now you're limited. Keep educating yourself because there are levels to this, and the more you educate, the higher you go.”

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Feature image courtesy of Moira Frazier

 

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