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Movie poster for "We Were Meant To" featuring a young Black man with wings flying off a terrace, with the title above his head

FIDM Alumna Mingo Designed Costumes for Film Premiering at 2023 Sundance Film Festival

FIDM Grad Mingo recently announced that the film she designed costumes for in her Practicum class, We Were Meant To, will be premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. At the beginning of the class, a Meet and Greet was held with American Film Institute (AFI) student producers and directors. Mingo connected with a number of the attendees and has since worked on 6 projects with AFI alumni. “All the filmmakers I work with from AFI are actually real friends with one another and myself. They’re my brothers and somewhat agents (Lol). They always refer me to other filmmakers or we just keep working together.”

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Mingo first attended Indiana University of PA, where she graduated with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising before heading to Los Angeles to attend FIDM where she earned A.A.s in both Fashion Design and Film & TV Costume Design, finishing her studies in 2020. We checked in with her to learn more. 

still from the film We Were Meant To -- actor wearing a feather costume indoors

Please tell us about the film We Were Meant To and your costume designs: We Were Meant To is a coming of age story about a world where Black men and boys can fly. Their first flight is their rite of passage into manhood. Costume designing this film was a learning experience. I had to figure out ways to be creative and still relatable with a very tight budget. One of my favorite touches was giving the three lead characters cold shoulder shirts and hoodies to show off the feathers. The director wanted something that didn’t take you far away from our world but still brought you into their world. I also designed the flight academy logo, pet store logo, and sports jersey. Another special touch was using the same color palette as the Tuskegee Airmen for the Flight Education Uniforms. 

FIDM Film & TV Costume Design Graduate Mingo works with actor on film We Were Meant To

The feather costumes were made by Mother Plucker Feather Company Inc, a manufacturing and wholesale company that specializes in feather products located in downtown Los Angeles. They were meshed sleeves covered in feathers. I had to put them on each lead and then help them put on their clothes over it. They were a bit uncomfortable to wear but they pushed through every scene. 

three actors stand outside on the set of the film We Were Meant To

How did you get involved with the film? In the beginning of our Practicum class we had a Meet and Greet with AFI student directors and producers. I met Jordan Tyner, producer of We Were Meant To. He emailed me a few months after exchanging business cards, asking if I was interested in interviewing with the film’s director, Tari Wariebi. I met them on the AFI campus with my portfolio and shared ideas I developed from the script. And from that they decided that I was a great fit for the film.

actor sits on a chair indoors on the set of the film We Were Meant To

How has FIDM prepared you for this experience? FIDM prepared me for this experience by teaching me the importance of reading scripts and collaborating. I’ve learned how to interpret the world the writer/director is trying to convey, and learned that it’s not always about fashion; it’s about storytelling and making decisions that make sense in terms of characters’ background, personality, setting, and most importantly the production’s budget. 

actor sits on a chair as she laughs indoors on the set of the film We Were Meant To

Why did you choose FIDM? I chose FIDM because I knew I would learn the skills and build connections with people that would help me start my career. I watched FIDM Alumni Amber Grand do it. She was the first young Black girl I knew from Philly to go across the country to chase her dream and attend FIDM. I always thought she was so brave for that. 

What are your career goals? I like letting God surprise me with where he will take me with costume design…BUT a few short term career goals for costume design are:
•Join a union.
•Work on a studio lot. 
•Design a limited series. 
•Travel overseas for costume design research. 
•Curate segments for Netflix Strong Black Lead about costume design and costume designers for upcoming movies and show releases.  
•Teach costume design classes in urban communities. 

Anything else you’d like to share? To always follow your dreams no matter what they may be. It is very important to network because there’s a world of people who share parts of the same passion. They’re just waiting to meet and work with someone like yourself to complete and help execute the vision. Also, be kind to everyone you work with and speak up for yourself. 

You can explore Mingo’s work on Instagram @mingseason_ and  @thecostumedesignjawn.

Categories:  Film & TV Costume Design Alumni