Exotic with an edge is Debi Mazar’s take on her own style. ”I’m never sloppy, and I never wear jeans,” she declares in a voice that is straight out of Queens, N.Y. ”I don’t work one look in particular, but it’s usually retro — I’m a flea-market freak. And detailed — I’m always very done, even at the gym.”
Mazar could just as easily be describing Denise Iannello, the scene-stealing legal secretary she plays on ABC’s Civil Wars. All of the character’s glam fashion flashbacks are custom-made by Brad Loman, the show’s costume designer, with major input from Mazar. Clearly they know what they’re doing: Eight out of 10 calls to the show are about whatever Denise was wearing that week.
But then, Mazar has never had a problem making an impression. Even when she was plucking Madonna’s eyebrows as makeup artist Debi M (way back in the early ’80s), her fierce style was as striking as her client’s — and often more so. ”Doing makeup was a way to create characters,” she says, ”only I got tired of doing it for other people.”
Since bagging greasepaint for acting lessons seven years ago, the 28-year-old has racked up several notable screen credits, including supporting roles in GoodFellas, Jungle Fever, Little Man Tate, and Malcolm X. Currently she’s filming her first starring role, opposite John Cusack, in the new dark comedy Joey Coyle, which should put an end to any lingering doubts about her dedication or talent. ”I have this fear of coming across as a Barbie doll who got lucky,” admits Mazar. ”Style is a big part of who I am, but it’s not who I am. Ya know?”