How Oscar nominee Paul Tazewell prepared for the Oscars

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“When I design a film or a production, awards are not my goal,” says Paul Tazwell. “It’s somewhere hovering, but it’s not what I think of in terms of getting the job done.”

That may be true, but this week Tazewell’s attention couldn’t help but be drawn to the golden statues. After all, the Emmy and Tony winner is nominated for an Oscar for the costume design of West Side Story— his first Oscar nomination, and also the first-ever nomination for a black man in the category. “When all the buzz started and I realized we had the potential to be nominated, it blew my mind,” he says. “I was truly surprised and so excited by the honor of being recognized by my peers and by everyone who works in the film industry.”

West Side Story is nominated for a total of seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Tazewell, who designed the costumes for MJ the musical, currently on Broadway, and Mr Saturday night, opening on Broadway March 31 — is thrilled to reunite with the colleagues who made one of the year’s most nominated films.

It will be a party for all of us. It was a massive undertaking for Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner and everyone involved, and it turned out so beautifully. I couldn’t have asked for a better representation of my work,” he says. “Celebrating with people I’ve worked with before, like Ariana DeBose, as well as people I have new relationships with , it’s so exciting and it’s so deserved that each of them be recognized. We will all feel very warm and connected as we celebrate each other. It’s going to be a very exciting night.”

So how did Tazewell prepare for the big night? Here, he tells us.

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1

“I’m not a fashion designer, but I know people will recognize what I wear. I contacted Gucci, and they were more than happy to dress me. I went classic, I think the cut is beautiful and it speaks to my own sensibility.”

3

“I choose a sharp style with a little twist, so it’s a beautiful black velvet evening jacket, tuxedo pants and an amazing bow tie.”

5

“I have my lucky cufflinks that I got from my mom. They were hers in college, when she was in the drama club, so they’re silver comedy and tragedy masks . I always have them on my wrists and I’m excited to wear those.”

7

“For me, being on this side of dressing everything is outside the box; I usually dress other people up and make them look great, so dressing up can be refreshing.”

8

“I can celebrate with my family; my mother will be my plus one and I have other family members in the audience, so that being a family experience will be wonderful for me.”

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