Bachelor of Creative Arts, UNC Charlotte (1985)
Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design, Southern Methodist University (1988)
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
As a child, Amy Andrews Harrell thought she might be a musician. She began playing the trumpet in third grade and continued through high school as a member of Charlotte's Independence High School marching band. But in her junior year, she wrote and designed some skits, and the following summer participated in Project Excel in theatre at UNC Charlotte, which ignited her interest in theatre. Enrolling in UNC Charlotte's Bachelor of Creative Arts program, she met theatre design professor Bob Croghan and decided to pursue costuming as her life’s work.
"Bob taught us perseverance," she says. "To think big. And he instilled in us a thrill and love of costumes."
Amy certainly learned "to think big." In her more than 20-year career in costume design, she has worked with an array of superstar directors and actors, including Steven Spielberg, Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, Mel Gibson, Sam Shepard, Nicole Kidman, John Turturro, and many others. She has served as costume designer, costume supervisor, wardrobe supervisor or key costumer for nearly 50 film and television productions. In 2008 she won an Emmy Award as costume supervisor for the HBO miniseries John Adams and in 2013 was nominated for an Emmy for her costume designs for the National Geographic Channel movie, Killing Lincoln.
When Amy was a student at UNC Charlotte, all of the arts disciplines were in one building, Rowe Arts.
"I will always have very fond memories of that unique building. Working on the shows in the Rowe theatre always presented a unique set of challenges. But I think it also taught us to be creative thinkers."
Likewise, the Creative Arts degree (no longer offered), encouraged interdisciplnary work. "I remember our PIPS class fondly. It was a requirement for all seniors. PIPS stood for Perceptions In Problem Solving and it was a mix of students of all of the arts disciplines in one class, talking, debating and arguing topics that artists might encounter through life."
Most recently, Amy designed the costumes for the first two seasons of the PBS series, Mercy Street, set in Virginia during the Civil War. (Season one premiered in January 2016; season two premiered in January 2017.) Her designs for the first season were included in the 10th Annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) Museum and Library in the fall of 2016.
Amy has been named the 2017 Distinguished Alumna in Theatre.