‘Abbott Elementary’ Makeup and Hair Artists Explain Why Janine’s Middle Part ‘Means Business’ For Her in Season 3

Janine (Quinta Brunson) has taken on a fellowship in the school district, and she and Gregory (Tyler James Williams) put their relationship on pause — due to mixed signals. Overall, the teachers are maturing and growing. “Abbott Elementary” artisans worked to reflect that growth through their respective crafts in the ABC series’ junior year.

In the first two seasons, Janine’s wardrobe was mainly long skirts paired with turtlenecks. According to series costume designer Susan Michalek, the idea was that her clothes were baggy. “We never did fittings to make the clothes fit. They were just last minute and let’s put a belt on it.” In Season 3, her character takes on more job responsibilities, and “the clothing is fitted. She has shorter skirts.” Michalek notes that as the season progresses, Janine’s neckline changes, and stripes, prints and the odd brooch add to Janine’s emerging professional confidence.

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Hair department head Moira Frazier made the biggest shift of all for Janine: “She had a middle part, and that was a huge deal for her character,” she says. When Janine was first introduced, her main focus was on the kids and teaching. “But when you go through a breakup and are rejected by your love interest, it puts you as a woman back in perspective. ‘I need to get myself together. I’ve got this brand-new job at the school district. I want to be taken more seriously.’'”

Frazier says she and Brunson had conversations about how this shift would look. The idea was that Janine had made the decision to get her hair together and would watch YouTube videos. In the end, Frazier added more curls to give Janine’s hair a more luxurious and bouncier look. “That middle part means business. It represents dominance and confidence,” says Frazier.

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY -ÒGregoryÕs Garden GoofballsÓ - Gregory is hesitant when kids start hanging out in his classroom at lunch, looking to him for advice as the Òcool teacher.Ó Barbara is shocked to find Tariq is dating the mother of one of her students. Janine and Jacob try to hire an ASL interpreter. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 14 (9:00-9:32 p.m. EST), on ABC. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)
Jewel tones and a central part were part of Janine’s season 3 look.

Similarly, Constance Foe, the show’s key makeup artist, opted for jewel-toned liners to reflect that Janine was more cognizant of her look.

Janine wasn’t the only one who gained confidence — Janelle James’ Ava, Abbott’s principal, showcased strength this season. Frazier gave Ava a 30-inch kinky-straight to emphasize her appearance. “When she walks and moves and dances, we want that movement,” she says. “She’s trying to be taken seriously this year and be more respected, and that’s why we went with long, sleek straight hair.”

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY - ÒSmokingÓ After a student is caught smoking, the Abbott staff come together to revamp the outdated drug policy. Meanwhile, Janine tries to prep the new substitute teacher for her class but finds it challenging to give up her former role. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 21 (9:00-9:32 p.m. EST), on ABC. (Disney/Gilles Mingasson)
Ava’s hair was longer and sleek to showcase her strength.

In contrast, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Barbara had to be consistent. As the school’s veteran educator, her character needed to be seen as a pillar of stability. At most, Frazier would add in an extra curl, but nothing too jarring.

As for universe-stretching, production designer Michael Whetstone was able to expand the world of the characters, taking them outside of the classrooms. Janine’s position at the district meant a new set. Whetstone talked with Brunson about what the office would look like. And while there was a lot of concrete, there was also a lot of glass.

The concept was that when the story cut back to Abbott Elementary School, there was a visible difference. “Our school was probably built in the 1890s. This building was built 10 years ago, and it’s where they have all the money; Abbott has none,” says Whetstone. “That’s why Janine goes there to try to make a change.”

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