New York native Kristi Zea stumbled into the world of moviemaking in the late 1970s. Despite having attended the High School for the Performing Arts, she intended to pursue a career in journalism, but while an undergraduate began working as a stylist for a commercial photographer. Although Zea did not like the work, it was lucrative and she discovered she possessed a flair for the work. Woody Allen hired her as a design consultant on his dramatic "Interiors" (1978), which, although shot in color, had a mostly black-and-white look to it. Alan Parker hired Zea to create the costumes for the high school students in his "Fame" (1980) and her career was on its way. She subsequently designed the costumes for Parker's "Shoot the Moon" (1981) and "Birdy" (1984) and moved up to production designer on "Angel Heart" (1987). Zea also forged collaborations with James L Brooks, creating the period clothes for "Terms of Endearment" (1983) serving as art director on "Broadcast News" (1987) and designing the production of "As Good As It Gets" (1997).