If, like me, you’ve devotedly watched The Handmaid’s Tale (or sometimes hate-watched, because simulated rapes, hangings, misogyny and slave allegories are so fun!) you’re no doubt familiar with actress Amanda Brugel, who plays the Waterford’s Martha, Rita. That said, you may not have recognized Brugel on the SAGs silver carpet on Sunday, where she instantly became one of our best-dressed, looking absolutely dazzling in a flowing, halter-necked violet gown by Redemption.
Stopping to speak with pre-show host Lola Ogunnaike, Brugel spoke about not only her stunning look, but the stunning significance of The Handmaid’s Tale, and how it feels to become part of a cultural zeitgeist during an eerily parallel moment in American history.
“It’s an honor,” she said. “I mean, you don’t set out to become a spokesperson for sort of the major issues, especially as a woman—and a 40-year-old woman—[on] very significant issues. But it’s an honor, and it’s a wonderful platform to be on. I get to take part in some tremendous conversations, I get to meet tremendous women; I’m Canadian, so I speak a lot at home about the Me Too movement and after Me Too, and it’s been such a blessing to just be thrust into conversations that I maybe wouldn’t necessarily have on a public forum.”
Offscreen, Brugel is the founder of the nonprofit Brugs Army, which helps raise funds for charities improving the lives of women and children. And while The Handmaid’s Tale didn’t take home any SAG awards for Season Two, Brugel said we can expect major drama when the series returns to Hulu.
“You can expect fire, pandemonium, crazy,” she said. “Expect crazy.”
Equally crazy—and fire—was Brugel’s transformation from the intentionally drab Rita to one of the most vibrant women on the SAGs carpet this year, thanks in part to celebrity stylist Justine Marjan. An ambassador for Tresemme and ghd hair tools, Marjan gave The Glow Up some behind-the-scenes intel on working with the actress—and the how-to on that perfect ponytail she created for the SAGs.
The Glow Up: How long have you and Amanda been working together? How has the stylist/client relationship evolved?
Justine Marjan: We met last year during award season and love working together for special events. She’s filming in Canada, so I only see her when she’s in town for something fun, but I love working with her because she has such a great personality, great taste, and always wants to do something fun with her hair and makeup.
TGU: Does she have a go-to look for special events?
JM: Not necessarily! She loves to play, and she looks great with so many different styles so red carpets are a great opportunity to show off her beautiful features.
TGU: Amanda plays a fairly plain-looking (but crucial) character on The Handmaid’s Tale. Did you feel compelled to transform her?
JM: It was so great to meet Amanda because she is so different from her character in the show! It’s really a testament to what an amazing actress she is, how dramatically she can transform. She is such a bubbly, fun person, and that really shows through in her personal style.
TGU: What was the inspiration behind Amanda’s awards show look this year?
JM: She was wearing such a beautiful feminine and flow dress so I wanted something that felt feminine and classic. The billowy material and high neckline called for hair that was off the face and the backless dress was such a moment for [an] elongated, flowy ponytail. We wanted something that would fall down her back and look beautiful and graceful. I added waves throughout the length of the ponytail to match the flowy feeling of her dress.
TGU: That was one incredible ponytail, which can be trickier than it looks. Were there accessories/extensions involved?
JM: I used Hidden Crown hair extensions for added length and a Kitsch elastic and claw clip to create the added bump at the top of the ponytail. I prepped her hair with TRESemmé Thermal Creations Blow Dry Balm, which creates a great foundation and humidity resistance before styling the hair. I then blowdried with the ghd Air Hair Dryer, which is amazing for protecting natural hair texture because of the temperature control! Then, I sprayed TRESemmé Thermal Creations Flat Iron Spray and flat ironed with the ghd Platinum Plus Styler, which created a smooth finish on all hair textures without causing damage to the hair texture or color.
To create the ponytail, I applied TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Hold Hair Gel to the roots and brushed into a ponytail using a wooden boar bristle brush so that I could work the product though the hair without pulling or snagging. After securing with a Kitsch snag-free elastic, I curled through the length of the ponytail in horizontal sections with the ghd Curve Soft Curl Iron from roots to ends, brushing through when complete. I then lifted just the top half of the ponytail and clipped it to Amanda’s scalp with a clip, brush backing the hair over the clip for volume and placing the hair on top of it to conceal and finished by sealing in the look with TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Control Unscented Hair Spray. I love how strong hold it is and how it controls frizz.
Is it wrong that after seeing this look, we’re hoping to see Brugel’s Rita have some moments to get glam when The Handsmaid’s Tale returns? Okay, we know that’s unlikely, but in the meantime, we’ll keep our eye out for her on the red carpet, because glow ups like these are always fun to watch.