Jessie Wright has returned to New Zealand after three months of intensive work in Prague on a new TV series - a drama set in 43AD about the Roman Imperial Army attempting to crush the Celtic heart of mythical Britannia.
One of seven international make-up artists working on the series, which will air on Sky and Amazon later this year, Jessie worked long days creating incredible and heroic characters.
"My head of department asked me to come up with a makeup design for a character I was allocated. This was quite an honour as usually the head of department does all the designing herself. I am especially proud of the make-up I created for a powerful female warrior character. My HOD designed the hair which I had to execute every day which was a really cool look of braided hair, ancient jewellery and leather straps. The makeup I designed was fierce! Red, intense smokey eyes combined with lots of layering to get the skin tone right. Since the character was a baddie, we had to dirty her down lots and in some scenes blood splatters which is always fun too!"
Jessie’s film and television credits are many and wide-ranging. Some of her highlights and productions she is most proud to have been a part of are: Britannia, The Hobbit, Born To Dance, Step Dave, 800 Words, The Shannara Chronicles, Dirty Laundry, Chasing the Black Widow, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon just to name a few along with the New Zealand Opera for the last 7 years.
"I have been lucky enough to travel internationally as a make-up artist and I have the opportunity to express my creativity as part of my work. I really am living my dream job."
Having studied make-up artistry - a programme that will be offered in Te Auaha in 2018 – Jessie graduated from WelTec and worked for a number of TV production companies, the New Zealand Opera and WOW while she lived in Wellington. "Straight after graduating I worked on as many projects as I could. One of the highlights in my very early career was Dancing with the Stars as an assistant for three seasons. Since then, my career slowly flourished until realising, film and TV was where my passion lay. I still always have to push myself to be noticed, but having faith in my art really helps."
While studying, Jessie received valuable training and advice, "My tutor Dany (Daniela Pike) taught me how to bring out the beauty from every individual I work on. Each face shape is different. The skill of a make-up artist is to apply product in such a way that the desired look is achieved whatever the context. I learnt so much through my studies and I owe a great deal to Dany and her teaching."
While studying, Jessie received recognition for her originality and was awarded a prize for top fashion look and the top student award. "Throughout the programme students were encouraged to be creative, to be original and stand out from the crowd. That advice has stood the test of time. If you stick to what you do and be authentic to yourself, you will have a really big client base and be successful in this industry," says Jessie
Keen to encourage students to undertake training at the early stages of their career Jessie also recommends up-and-coming make-up artists study hairdressing. “If you want to work in film and TV, especially in New Zealand, it is an advantage to have both sets of skills."
So what’s it like working on big international film and TV production jobs? “If you’re hired for commercial work overseas you might be part of a large scale team of 15+ make-up artists. I routinely work with amazingly creative people from all over the world. The work is challenging, and the days can be long, but the people are inspirational and with every job I have new experiences and bring back fresh approaches to my next job."
Jessie is now looking at innovative ways of expanding her career. “My work on Film projects and TV series is continuing as this is my passion. I am also keen to grow my private clients and have my work showcased in magazines and other media.”
Follow Jessie Wright on Facebook or @Jessiewrightmakeup on Instagram