Vanessa Bell Calloway landed the role of Imani Izzi in “Coming to America” with the help of a $30 wig.
“My hair was short at the time, and I know men in Hollywood: They like long hair, so my short hair was not going to be pretty to them. So I ran to the beauty supply store and I got this little cheap wig,” she told Page Six Style of preparing for her audition for the 1988 flick.
Ironically, the wig Calloway chose was called the “Imani,” which she took as a “sign from God.”
“Everybody loved the hair, but nobody said anything about my acting; they just said, ‘I like your hair,’” the “Saints & Sinners: Judgment Day” actress, 63, continued.
“When I went to the callback with Eddie Murphy, everyone went on and on about my hair. Now I’m cracking up inside, because I went out and bought a $30 wig.”
But the role of Imani Izzi, Eddie Murphy’s character’s arranged bride, called for a far more dramatic ‘do.
Vanessa Bell Calloway as Princess Imani Izzi in “Coming to America.”Everett Collection
“I ended up wearing two weaves,” Calloway recalled of her character’s high ponytail. “There was so much hair, I had to learn how to balance my neck and stuff. You could not even see my real hair at all.”
Equally uncomfortable — though gorgeous — was Imani’s iconic gold gown.
“The dress was beautiful. I had several fittings for that dress” she said, revealing she stood still for an hour so the team could appliqué the costume while it was on her body.
“The dress was so tight, you could not sit down in it, so you leaned on a board to rest,” she added. “I could not get around in that dress. You could not do a lot of moving in it, so I just kind of leaned in it.”
Despite the difficulties, Calloway loved the final look. “It was actually auctioned
off, and I wish somebody had told me, because I would have tried to get it,” she said. “I would have loved to own that dress.”
Fortunately, she got to wear some equally stunning pieces to reprise her role in the upcoming sequel “Coming 2 America,” which premieres on March 5 on Amazon Prime Video and features costumes by Oscar-winning designer Ruth E. Carter.
“She did a bang-up job with the fashion; the wardrobe is just absolutely gorgeous,” Calloway told us of Carter’s work. “I just was blown away.”
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