Sara Fox knows she might just have one of the coolest jobs on the planet.
As a costume designer, she has worked on major shows like Pretty Little Liars, Code Black and Get Shorty, as well as films like Jersey Boys and Horrible Bosses 2. Most recently, she made the jump into one of the most iconic brands in entertainment – Star Wars.
Fox, the assistant costume designer for The Mandalorian, realizes how lucky she is to work on such a popular show, which is also part of one of the most famous universes in entertainment history. But she also knows that getting to this point took talent and good old-fashioned hard work. And now that combo has landed the former Trojan her first Emmy nomination.
“We really put our hearts and souls into the project, so it’s really nice to be recognized by our peers,” she said.
Growing up in Yorba Linda, Calif., Fox said she was always a “patron and lover of the arts” but never saw it as an actual career. Originally, she thought she’d go a more conventional route and pursue business. But “conventional” might be somewhat subjective, as Fox was entering college with a high school diploma and her cosmetology license. She figured she’d combine that with a business degree to work in cosmetics or do something entrepreneurial. At the suggestion of a high school guidance counselor, however, Fox started looking into the arts. USC was first on her list.
“They saw that I had this unique skill set that I brought as a student, that completed this puzzle that they were looking for in their student body,” she said. “I have always had great drive and initiative, and I think that’s part of why I ended up going to USC. They look at their incoming student body as not just a test score but as an individual.”
Sara Fox makes the leap into Star Wars with The Mandalorian
Fox graduated in 2010 from the USC School of Dramatic Arts with a bachelor’s degree in theater design and an emphasis in costume and set design. During her undergraduate years, Fox had internships at ABC and E! Network before landing her first gig out of college as a costume production assistant on the show Raising Hope.
Since then, her work has spanned a wide range of genres, from sitcoms to medical dramas, period pieces and her most recent venture into a particular galaxy far away.
Every show brings out so much excitement and new opportunities and creative juices.
“Every show brings out so much excitement and new opportunities and creative juices, and the opportunity to collaborate with other craftspeople has always been really exciting,” Fox said. “Now, 11 years later, each opportunity has gotten bigger and the shows have gotten bigger, so the excitement has grown each step of the way.”
That’s not to say that entering the Star Wars universe didn’t come with its share of challenges. Fox said this was by far the largest project she had worked on, so the entire team she worked with felt like they were held to a higher standard. As excited as Fox was to work on The Mandalorian, she fully admits that she was not an encyclopedia of Star Wars knowledge, so she immediately threw herself into the material.
“It was a really fun learning experience,” she said. “It’s so intricate that I still to this day did not reach the levels of detail that the universe has created over the last almost 50 years.”
USC grad ready for exciting new projects in costume design
The specific episode Fox and her collaborators were nominated for – “The Jedi” – features the first live-action adaptation of an iconic character from the animated series, Ahsoka Tano, played by Rosario Dawson.
“It’s always really exciting when there’s an opportunity to bring a character to life, from animation up to live action,” she said.
Outside of the Emmy nomination, the work has also led to other forms of recognition, like being listed as an example of famous alumni from the School of Dramatic Arts, an honor she couldn’t help but chuckle at.
“I just greatly appreciate being acknowledged,” she said. “I think it’s funny to be called ‘famous alumni,’ but I’ve worked really hard for it, too, so it’s an acknowledgment that my effort is paying off.”
Fox won’t be working on the next season of The Mandalorian, as she’s left the Star Wars universe for now, but she said she’d still like to stay within the sci-fi realm and has some projects lined up. Not too bad for only being a “patron and lover of the arts.”
“It was really a new chapter for me to go into this career of design and costumes and I really had no idea if there would be longevity,” Fox said. “A majority of people don’t see this as a viable career option, but I really have been fortunate enough to really make it not only a career but a passion, and one that I’ve had some success with.”
The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented in September. Awards in the creative arts categories — including the costume category — will be presented Sept. 11 and 12 on FXX; acting, directing and writing awards will be presented Sept. 19 on CBS.