Days before the Canadian Screen Awards, we asked the Schitt’s Creek makeup artist about scoring her dream gig in TV
Many people grow up dreaming of being on television, but for Toronto’s Lucky Bromhead, working behind the scenes was the ticket to beauty industry stardom. A full-time freelancer with more than 20 years of experience, Bromhead is now the personal makeup artist to actors Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy, and the creator of their unmistakable looks on the award-winning CBC comedy Schitt’s Creek.
Long before she was dolling up two of Canada’s funniest stars, a teenage Bromhead was recreating Vogue beauty looks on her friends, a passion that eventually led to a job with M.A.C. She quickly became a trainer for the company before transitioning to television as MTV Canada’s head of makeup.
“Being in the control room with multiple screens showing your makeup in HD, and having an entire network of executives examine your work, was humbling and exhilarating,” she says of her time at MTV. “I quickly learned that makeup is nothing without lighting. But when the lighting is right and the makeup works, it’s a match made in heaven.”
Today, Bromhead’s work on Schitt’s Creek is integral to the show’s two female leads: Moira, a glamorous former soap opera star with a jet-set past and an impressive wig collection, and her daughter Alexis, a gorgeous party girl whose romantic mishaps have landed her in the pages of Us Weekly.
With a cast that includes bona fide comedy royalty (O’Hara and co-star Eugene Levy have been quipping together since their SCTV days in the 1970s), it comes as no surprise that being on set is as much fun as watching the show. “We actually laugh so much, it should be criminal,” says Bromhead, who selected the foundation bottle for a recent scene in which Alexis tries to salvage spilled makeup. “I thought seeing Annie try to suck up that foundation from the carpet with a dropper was hilarious!”
All jokes aside, we asked Bromhead to share her tips on channeling a fictional character through cosmetics, her career advice for aspiring TV makeup artists, and her own personal beauty philosophy.
How is doing makeup for TV characters different from other types of makeup application? It’s less about [achieving] a pure aesthetic of beauty or trend, and more about telling the story of a human being. I like to work closely with the actors to ensure what they are feeling on the inside helps tell the story on the outside and makes sense with the hair, wardrobe and of course the script. It helps get the actor to where they need to be mentally. [For TV artists] reading scripts is imperative as you never know if the scene will be shot in the rain, or if they have been in a fistfight, or if they are sweating. Any number of things can happen that will affect the look and the types of products you use.
What advice would you give someone who wants to do makeup for a TV show? Not only is the job about your skills, it’s also about being someone that the cast and crew would want to be around for 16-hour days. Time management, budgeting and interpersonal skills are tantamount to your makeup skills. Be good at all of them and you will have a happy career.
How did you develop the signature beauty looks for Moira and Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek? For Catherine’s character, Moira, we imagined a wealthy fashion powerhouse who favours the avant-garde. Her makeup has the equivalent intention of Anna Wintour’s hair—it’s her signature and doesn’t change too much. A red lip was the obvious choice for a cool, confident woman. We changed Catherine’s natural lip shape with liner before applying the lipstick to give her fullness. And the smoky eye makeup showcases Catherine’s intensely gorgeous blue eyes, which garnered Moira a lot of attention in her soap opera days.
I’ve heard Annie Murphy joke that the only reason she landed the role was because of her naturally Levy-esque eyebrows. I like to keep her look fresh and optimistic to match her free-spirited, if not slightly entitled, character. Life is a party to Alexis Rose! Her eyeshadow is always a soft wash of colour, with plenty of black mascara to finish the look. I wouldn’t think of sending Alexis out into the world without some highlight on those cheekbones.
Lucky Bromhead’s Schitt’s Creek Essentials
What is your idea of perfect beauty? Self-acceptance, confidence, humour, lack of ego and glorious imperfections.
How do you look when you feel most like yourself? Definitely wearing flats and a red lip, with an open heart and a big smile.
If you could create a fragrance that encapsulated your personality, what would it smell like? Witty, a little complex and just a touch masculine. I love to laugh and feel light. I would call my fragrance Funny—you know, so someone could say, “You smell funny” and mean it as a compliment.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received at the beauty counter? Whatever you are attracted to is probably right.
What is your biggest beauty extravagance? Sleep! And I love a good cold-laser treatment now and again. I also always have manicured hands as they touch people’s faces and are often captured on camera.
Which one of your signature techniques should every woman know? Mixing a touch of an illuminating moisturizer into your foundation…radiant!
Who do you admire as a living icon in the beauty world? [Rick Owens collaborator] Michèle Lamy. Her unorthodox and unapologetic approach to beauty and aging is intriguing and refreshing.
What is your biggest beauty regret? Thinking I could pull off Marlene Dietrich eyebrows. Hey, it was the ’90s.
What is your anti-aging motto? I don’t believe in anti-aging. We age. I want to take care of my skin and physical/emotional health so I do it gracefully.
What do you deem a beauty crime? Donning anything without having a sense of ownership.
What do you consider an underrated skincare commandment? Having a humidifier in your bedroom during the winter months.
If you could change anything about the beauty industry, what would that be? A bigger spectrum about the popular perception of beauty, be it size, skin tone, age, cultural or economic background, or gender.