Hollywood Costume Designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers wooed students in Tri-School Drama 2 and 3 classes today with her guest appearance, where she gave a candid discussion on what it takes to make it in Hollywood.
Known for her artistic excellence on four films that have been nominated for Best Picture for the Academy Awards–American Graffiti, The Conversation, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Color Purple which she received a nomination for Best Costume Design, Rodgers has also worked on such famous movies as Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi and Rent. Today, she told students that an artist's work is always discovered by the audience.
Rodgers, who came to San Francisco in the 1960s from Fresno to attend San Francisco State University, stumbled upon costume designing. It was during a politically fueled time period in San Francisco where, in between her master's and undergraduate, Rodgers went to work for ACT, American Conservatory Theater, which was in its formative years in San Francisco.
At ACT, she was paid $55 a week to find costumes throughout the city's burgeoning thrift stores. While she admits that at the time she knew nothing about the costume industry, this move was one that would propel her to resume her studies at Long Beach State University, where she earned her master's in theater costume design.
Now in the industry for several decades, Rodgers' passion for straight talk and action has made her a much-sought after costume designer.
"In the arts, we stay open to everyone," Rodgers said. "Your judgement–get rid of it ... let your ego go. Go strongly on that path, barrel through, and take no prisoners. Just go for it," she encouraged the group of nearly 25 students.
To Rodgers, every project is different. Sometimes she has actors shop with her, other times; she sifts through their own closets to find clothes that fit. "They're paid for, we know they're the right size, so why not just start there," she said.
She shops anywhere from Goodwill to local thrift stores to Neiman Marcus. While she looks to find threads in all locations, her advice to students was to make sure that they look the part when shopping. But, she admits, the word 'discount' is her middle name.
"I sift thought everything and if something bounces at you, pick it up," Rodgers added.
Her overall attitude, to keep honest and true to one's self, was essentially the thesis of her discussion today. "After all, the happiest costume designers are the ones who get the jobs," she noted.