Nadia Stacey is a fantastic British Hair & Makeup Designer who has designed some truly wonderful British Independent films and TV shows. Nadia was the designer for the recent and brilliant Spike Island, Sightseers (I loved this film) and Simon Pegg's A Fantastic Fear Of Everything. She has just designed Breathless - the upcoming ITV & PBS stylish medical drama set in the 1960s and the recent BBC zombie series In The Flesh, which has brilliant special effects. She was also part of the makeup team for This is England and Downtown Abbey, as well as a daily artist on many big budget US features like Harry Potter, John Carter, Pirates of the Caribbean and War Horse. In short you will have undoubtedly seen her work and if you haven't you should widen your broadcast horizons as we make brilliant British films and dramas! I spoke with Nadia to hear about her career, the industry and, of course, to get some of her pro-tips.

A snapshot of Nadia's career

MANW: How did you start your career and what was the progression it took?
NS: I trained at Yorkshire TV and then moved to London and worked in wigs in the West End and The National Theatre. I met Lisa Wescott (Oscar winning makeup artist for Les Miserables) and she gave me some work experience on a film she was working on at the time and it kind of snowballed from there.

MANW: You mainly design the hair & make-up for TV dramas or feature films, did you ever want to work in fashion or beauty?
NS: Not really, I am a huge film/TV fan so to combine my passion for makeup and hair with that naturally led me here I think. I love reading about fashion makeup though.

MANW: Do you have a preference of hair or makeup?
NS: I love both. I'm not a trained hairdresser so I found it difficult for a long time and was scared of it! Now though I'm really interested in it and I love doing hair and the challenge of it.

MANW: Do you have a preference for the type of jobs and make-ups you like to do, ie: blood and effects, straight makeup or period dramas?
NS: I love the variety. I've been doing a few period dramas lately, my current one (Breathless) is 1961 and really stylish so it's been so much fun and so rewarding creatively. I do love a bit of blood and prosthetics though.

MANW: How does designing differ to dailies?
NS: As the designer you are in charge of the whole look of the piece. So from reading the script you then get to be part of the creative process of the characters.

MANW: What is the process of creating a characters look and how much say do you have in the designs?
NS: If you have a good script the characters will begin to build in your mind as you read it. It's then a collaborative process with actor/director/costume to create the look. On A Fantastic Fear Of Everything I wanted Simon Pegg to look different to how we normally see him and his character was so strong that it needed a look to match. I loved Peter Firth's hair in Equus so I had a wig made in that style. The director and Simon were very much involved so it was nice to get there together.

MANW: You have worked on some legendary productions like This Is England, Downton Abbey, Harry Potter.. can you tell us about some of the stand out moments of your career?
NS: Without doubt it would be Tyrannosaur. It was such a special experience and changed my career. I got to be a part of the trips to film festivals and the BAFTAs with it. Working with Judi Dench as a trainee was pretty stand out too!

MANW: You've been in the industry a long time, how do you think it has differed and what advice would you give to new artists starting out?
NS: Well I only trained in 2003 so it still feels fresh to me but I think training is different. There aren't any 'in house' training schemes at the big TV companies anymore just private colleges but the training is fantastic. I think my advice would be to try and gain as much experience as you can. Be determined and eager to learn. A keen trainee is such an asset to a team. Watch programmes/films you like and make a note of the designer and contact them.
MANW: All artists have 'the wish list'; a face they would love to work on or a show or film they would have loved to have worked on. Without doubt mine is This is England, the hair & makeup throughout the series was amazing. Who or what are yours?
NS: Well I love British Independent Film so I have a list of directors I'd like to work with. Michael Winterbottom and Mike Leigh are up there. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with lots of people on my list though.

MANW: On to the good stuff, what are your tricks for flawless looking skin?
NS: A good primer. MAC's Prep and Prime range is great and I love By Terry Foundations too.
MANW: What are your top 5 holy grail kit products?
NS: Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine spray, NARS blush in Orgasm, MAC Prep and Prime base, Chantecialle bases, MUJI tiny cotton buds, Aveda Confixor Liquid Gel (use it all the time on men!), Illustrator palettes, Le maquillage palettes.

MANW: What's your best make-up artist tip to give women?
NS: A really good foundation is a fantastic canvas and then look after your eyebrows. It's a cliche but they frame the face.

MANW: Finally, false eyelashes - the longer the better or enough already they look ridiculous?
NS: Well, we are using hundreds of individual ones on this 60s job so I would say I love them!

You can see more on Nadia's career on IMDB and you can chat to her on Twitter.

If you liked this interview and would like to read other leading industry makeup artists stories have a look at the rest of the 'Meet The Artist' series here.

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