Danita Lee comes to School of Theatre, Television, and Film’s M.F.A. in Design program following a career as an assistant in costume design in the San Diego theatre community. “I have no idea how I really started to think about art because my parents are immigrants and they’re more practical.” Despite this, Lee had an early curiosity with how things were made, especially clothes, since her mother altered anything that needed it. “[Watching her] made me think, ‘Wow you can create magic from nothing but a needle and thread.’”
Creating magic is something Lee excels in, from punching out a character’s humanity to shrouding them in mystery— she tells the characters’ stories through textures, fabrics, and color. “It’s a lot about the relationships on stage between the characters and their surroundings and really creating a fuller sense of the world.” In the future, Lee hopes to bring this careful attention to detail to film sets. Design for theatre can be very forgiving compared to the close-ups of film, she explains, where any tears, rips or cheapness of fabric are evident.
Lee loves a challenge, but mostly, she loves the process. “Costume design is one part of the whole— it’s a highly collaborative process where all the designers and the director really need to be on the same page… the goal is for the audience to get lost in the story.”