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Conversations with Samantha Tansey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Tansey.

Hi Samantha, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
So my makeup journey started when I was about 6/7 years old and I received a ‘girl’s world head’ to play with makeup and hair on. Apparently, I went through a few because I decided to use permanent marker on the face at times, I then became more sophisticated when I hit 13 and invited the neighbor’s kids over so I could make them up as dead bodies with a variety of my mum’s eye shadow’s and lipsticks (sorry mum) and take photos on my disposable camera which then later were developed at the drug store – I definitely got funny looks when collecting them. I always loved makeup artistry but never thought about it as a career until my mother gave me the nudge. I had been working for a number of years in Film and Television Production in London and as much as I loved working in the industry – Production wasn’t the part I belonged in – so in 2012, I took the leap. I had saved up for two years prior and actually ventured here to LA to attend Cinema Makeup school. I then returned to London to build my career over the years – knowing that one day I would be back in Los Angeles making movies again one day! My dream came true in early 2019 when I was approved my visa to work over here and that’s when I made the big move over from London and honestly, it has been a rollercoaster – in more than one way! But it has been the best step in my career and life I have made to date.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There definitely have been ups and downs, it took a lot of sacrifice building my career in makeup on many levels, however, I believe if you truly want something you will absolutely go for it and take as many opportunities as you can. Obviously, then moving to a totally new city away from family and friends really made homesickness a horrible experience. But I managed to grow through that and adjust to the culture here, the work hustle and life in LA working in the makeup department at the epicentre of where the movie industry is – made it so exciting but also of course so daunting because there is fierce competition here. In addition – Covid hitting and pausing the whole industry, I have been very blessed with working steadily when the industry reopened with new protocols in place and PPE and having to upgrade my makeup kit to meet the safety standards was stressful but absolutely necessary. It is particularly hard being a makeup artist as we are one of highest risk departments because we have to deal with talent that aren’t wearing masks when they are in our chair. However, like anything – practice makes perfect and now this new normal allows us to continue our careers.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
So I predominantly work in Film and Television, but I have also worked on music videos, campaigns, editorials and commercials over my career. Basically, anything that requires makeup – I have done it. I am probably most known for my work in horror – I have the nickname blood girl haha. I have no idea why I’m always hired for these insane blood-filled gruesome films constantly – but also not complaining, it is a lot of fun setting up blood gags, slit throats, prosthetic appliances and my personal favourite character and ‘out of kit’ injury makeups. I really enjoy bruising and more subtle character makeups the best like aging, tired characters or drug addicts for instance. Basically the kind of makeup that you don’t notice because it looks so authentic. I think what may set me apart from others – is my production background and experience working in a totally different department that makeup, I have also been rehired many times in both London and LA because I can work on a diverse range of skin tones with confidence and being inclusive of my BIPOC community. In addition, for choosing clean beauty products where possible and only using cruelty-free/vegan products on my talent’s skin.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I really hope the makeup industry including products and artists become a lot more inclusive of people of all colour, that we start making changes in a range of colours of foundations and products as well as elevating BIPOC. In addition, I hope there is more equality in the SFX field – for women in the industry. There is already so much change happening especially since the #metoo movement – and this is great. Accountability in the makeup industry is happening more and more and I think that is something that will keep evolving. I also feel like the marriage between Practical FX makeup and Visual FX will keep growing and working well together – I think Cinema has shown us that viewers prefer practical FX where I can be executed – that there is room for both in the industry.

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