Magnum PI: Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i talks updated hair styles and more

MAGNUM P.I. -- "Dead Ringer" Episode 506 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins -- (Photo by: Zack Dougan/NBC)
MAGNUM P.I. -- "Dead Ringer" Episode 506 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins -- (Photo by: Zack Dougan/NBC) /

When Magnum PI moved to NBC, there were a few other changes. Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i was upped from Key Hairstylist to Hair Department Head. What changes did that lead to?

Magnum PI Season 5 has certainly been a blast so far. With the move to NBC, there are a few sexier moments, especially for Higgins and Magnum. At the same time, there are some subtle changes in the looks.

Vasquez-Tamali’i is responsible for a lot of the subtle changes when it comes to the hairstyles. Higgins has had an updated look to suit the location, and in this exclusive interview Vasquez-Tamali’i discussed those changes.

Of course, we had to ask about the fight scenes. How is it possible that the characters’ hairs look perfect when they get out of these fight scenes? Then there’s the fact that a 1940s episode is coming up, and we chatted a little about the research for the hairstyles for that.

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i talks hairstyles in Magnum PI Season 5

Precinct TV: What ideas did you have coming into this fifth season? Did the new network help change things up for you?

Kekepania Vasquez-Tamali’i: My idea coming into this fifth season was to bring more modern styles workable in the tropical environment. I gravitated to lighten up Perdita Weeks’ hair color slowly to have that sun-kissed look and maintain continuity in case any scenes merge.

PTV: Can you share some of the things you’ve done with the hairstyles to make them modern?

KVT: There have been so many hair mood boards per character created, and each hairstyle per character we were making was pitched to the producers, our showrunner, and directors per episode. I also wanted hairstyles that wouldn’t distract or remove any storylines from our actors.

PTV: How did you make sure you remained close to the character’s personalities and styles already set up while creating something modern?

KVT: I always make sure I collaborate with the actor if they have any feelings about how their character looks and propose a style we can work with and that our network approves of it.

PTV: How did you go about creating styles for the newer characters where you had more of a blank slate?

KVT: I have many looks based on eras and characters I digitally catalogue. I usually look for each character I am going to build by collaborating with the actor to see their impression of their character’s looks. We agree; then we take pictures from all angles, then share them with the network. I usually get the approvals or changes from our writers, producers, and showrunners.

PTV: What do you need to do to keep the hair perfect during the fight scenes?

KVT: I love that you asked that question because I was chatting with our hairstylist about this. Our actors sweat during fight scenes, and putting a product with an anti-sweat and memory hold with their styles keeps their hair, and usually, we don’t use any bobby pins or accessories that can harm them during a stunt, same as the stunt actor.

At times with our actors, we use synthetic hair pieces along with their natural hair and style them to hold the style in. But for our stunt doubles, we have to replicate their hair using synthetic wigs we hand dye and style using steam because it holds and never changes even when it gets wet.

PTV: Where did you start when it came to research for the flashbacks to the 1940s?

KVT: One of our episodes has a 1940s period scene. I’ve had multiple digital kinds of research for that era, and from the past period shows that I’ve archived. I found differences between that era with Hawaii in that the hairstyles for that era in Hawaii were more in the late 1930s.

PTV: What have been the main differences you noted in the styles in Hawaii and in the rest of the States in the 1940s?

KVT: I also did a lot of research in person at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam Library, looking at the archives—it was breathtaking taking a step back to my grandparent’s era during that time. The difference was that Hawaii sported trending hairstyles a few years later. I found some looks specific to Hawaii to fit the scene, which called for a specific time era right before December 1941 to after that month (I can’t give away the looks the scene hasn’t been televised yet). When you see that scene, you’ll know.

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Magnum PI airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC. Catch up on Peacock.