New Brunswick woman wins Emmy for her work on Schitt's Creek
HALIFAX, N.S. -- The Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” was the talk of the 72nd Emmy Awards. For the first time, a Canadian show took home the award for best comedy series and the cast swept all four acting categories.
Debra Hanson, a St. Stephen, N.B. native, and her assistant Darci Cheyne added to the show’s tally when they won the Emmy in the contemporary costume design category.
“You’re in with people who really know what they are doing,” says Hanson.
“So, I feel so honoured by the respect for design, I really do. I think that it says a lot.”
Hanson studied at Dalhousie University in Halifax and got her start in the business at Neptune Theatre. She made the transition to film and then landed a gig on the then brand new show “Schitt’s Creek.”
“Dan (Levy) is very hands on in all departments and he has a passion for clothes and fashion and an expertise. They wanted somebody who wasn’t intimidated by that,” says Hanson.
Levy, co-creator of the show, has said he had a very clear idea of the esthetic going into the show and that the wardrobe tells its own story.
“Their money was taken away, their jewelry was taken away, their house, their furniture, what did they have left? All the clothes that they could pack into a trunk,” says Hanson.
“All the pieces we had were authentic. They weren’t knockoffs at all. So… sometimes we rented, but we were on eBay, Etsy, and all of the sales that we could possibly get because all the clothes were authentic.”
Hanson says Alexis, the character played by Ottawa-born actress Annie Murphy, was the most difficult to dress.
“Because she developed her personality, she developed her style as she went along,” she says.
While Levy’s character David is perhaps best-known for his iconic sweaters, Hanson says her favourite thing to dress him in was skirts.
“We’re from the Maritimes, nothing is as good looking as a man in a kilt,” laughs Hanson.
When outfitting Moira, played by Toronto-born actress Catherine O’Hara, Hanson used high, but not current, fashion.
“The fittings with Catherine O’Hara were unique,” says Hanson.
“She was so great. We would have pieces I thought, ‘well she’ll never get in to this,’ or ‘she’ll never be able to walk in those heels’ and she always did. She’d say, ‘no Debra, let’s try it. We’ll try it. I can do it.’ If she loved it, she could always do it.”
When O’Hara took the mic on Emmy night, she made sure to thank Hanson in her acceptance speech.
“I must pay… tribute to Debra Hanson, our wardrobe whisperer,” said O’Hara.
O’Hara’s acknowledgement of the contribution the costume department made to her character was a special moment for Hanson.
“The woman is just a class act,” she says.
Hanson says her time on the show was intense, but positive.
“What was special about it was that it was a small collaborative, focused, talented people all rushing towards the same goal.
Hanson says “Schitt’s Creek” is a show about family and friends, but most importantly about acceptance and love.
“That’s what drew us to that show for six seasons,” she says.
“We were not only doing something that we enjoyed doing, we’re sending a message out and the message became so important to all of us.”