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Performing Art
An on-set photo of Riggs' Lucayan Indian tribe costume design. Courtesy Donna Riggs.
Arts and Entertainment Friday, May. 3, 2013 4 years ago

Bradenton resident Donna Riggs works on national film

by: Mallory Gnaegy A&E Editor

Bradenton resident Donna Riggs recently designed costumes for Dinesh D’Souza’s “America.” D’Souza is a conservative political voice who authored documentary “2016: Obama’s America.” The documentary was a box-office hit, and Riggs says D'Souza hopes that “America” will share similar success. 

Riggs is not quick to comment on the political nature of the films, but, she says D'Souza is a “pretty nice guy." 

Riggs’ costume designs were utilized for a segment fimmed in Palmetto, at Regatta Point, where Christopher Columbus ship replicas are docked, as well as Fort DeSoto Park, in Terra Verde. Filming took four days. The film is based on Columbus landing in America.

When business was slow last year, Riggs decided she needed to market herself better, and her efforts attracted the attention of the production staff of “America.” A few days after a phone call with the production manager, she was meeting with the staff.  

Initially, the production team wanted her to design both costumes and the set, but with only 24 days to do both, she suggested they hire her biological twin sister, Diana Riggs, to do the set design. In the short amount of time allotted, Donna Riggs costumed more than 60 people in 15th century wardrobes. The costumes consisted of East Indian villagers from Sri Lanka; Lucayan tribe people; and Christopher Columbus’ crew. She completed the assignment with the help of a team she hired locally.

Riggs says and can’t remember a time when she wasn’t sewing and making costumes; she has been sewing since she was a child. Before designing costumes for movies, Riggs carried a diverse career. She’s done everything from working as a part-time graphic design for The Observer to founding and acting as executive director for the now-defunct nonprofit Saturday Night Out, which combined fashion with performing arts. She out her own clothing line, called “Oh Donna!,” and also owned a costume shop in Bradenton, where she made custom clothing and costumes. One of her local claims to fame is the making the Snooty mascot for South Florida Museum. 

As far as her future designing costumes for the silver screen, she says she’s already got another movie in the works but can’t divulge any information about it at this point.

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