It’s 10:30 a.m. when costume designer Ceci (yes, just Ceci—more on that later) signs on to Zoom, but she’s been awake since 2:30. By choice. Getting up in the middle of the night is simply par for the course when you’re creating looks for some of the most iconic shows on television, A Different World, Living Single, and Sister, Sister, among them.
After overseeing the costume designs for Dear White People, A Black Lady Sketch Show, and Mixed-ish, Ceci (pronounced Sess-ee) is bringing her vision to life in ABC and 20th Television’s The Wonder Years, a new show inspired by the award-winning series that ran from 1988 to 1993. In this version, viewers are introduced to the Williams family through the lens of 12-year-old Dean as he grows up in Montgomery, Alabama, in the late 1960s.
The series shoots in Atlanta, which is three hours ahead of Ceci’s home base in Los Angeles. So when the actors show up for their 5:30 or 6 a.m. call times, Ceci starts her day too, on call for virtual fittings, consultations, and last looks. For some, such a schedule would be out of the question. But the 62-year-old has more energy than most kids, which serves her well off set too as she cares for her three young grandchildren, who live with her.
Ceci is a native Californian, born and raised in Los Angeles. Her parents were from Panama and are the reason that early wake-up call is something she doesn’t flinch about. “My parents came here with nothing in their pocket and a lot of will to survive,” she tells Glamour. “They had a lot of crafts and skills that they [were taught in] school, thanks to Home Economics and Shop. My parents had all of that in spades.”
And so does Ceci. Whether it was making her own clothes as a kid or having the boldness to tell administrators at the Fashion Institute for Design & Merchandising that she wasn’t going to follow the set curriculum, Ceci knows who she is and what she brings to the table (or in this case, the closet). But as confident as she is, it doesn’t mean she’s been free of fear or self-doubt either.
However, at 62, it’s become more joy than anxiety. And sure, even though a nap sounds good, it’s not high on her priorities list. “I’d just dream about the next episode [of The Wonder Years] anyway,” she says with a laugh.
So how did she do it—and do it so magnificently? Here, Ceci explains what it took, what she knows now, and the episode of A Different World that still reminds her just how good she is.