An Interview with SFX Makeup Artist, Emily Holloway

SFX Makeup Artist, Emily Holloway

According to, “a special effects makeup artist, is in charge of transforming an actor’s appearance when they have to look scary, undead, not-of-this-earth, bloody, beaten up, older—any transformation that requires more than what a regular makeup artist is responsible for. Basically, any nightmare you’ve ever gotten from a monster or zombie in a film is thanks to these artisans. They are responsible for utilizing prosthetics (generally made of foam latex or gelatin), cosmetics, appliances, and spirit gum to create realistic wounds, abrasions, creature features, deformities, aged-up wrinkles, or anything else that will further immerse the audience into the world. Despite the industry’s reliance on CGI, the special effects makeup artist’s ability to bring otherworldly visuals to life through practical techniques is an invaluable and essential role on the set of any genre film or show. Additionally, a highly skilled special effects makeup artist is inadvertently responsible for enhancing the actors’ performances.

An SFX makeup artist can be the key ingredient to grasping the audience’s attention, keeping them engaged, desiring to know more. An SFX makeup artist is high in demand in film production.”

While working on the highly anticipated horror thriller, Sebastian, written, directed, and produced by Atlanta's own, Mann Robinson, I had the opportunity to retrieve a mask pertinent for the film. After a long and grueling, two-hour drive, I was greeted by SFX make-up artist Emily Holloway, who handed me the mask. Upon laying my eyes on this masterpiece, I instantly was blown away! As I stared at it, multiple questions raced through my mind. How did she create such a mind-blowing piece, and how long has she been doing this type of work? I began to seek the opportunity to get all my questions answered, and when the opportunity presented itself, I seized the moment!

Emily (who prefers to go by “Em”) and her pronouns are (“They, Their”) is a makeup artist from Madison, Georgia, and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Em attended The College of Georgia and graduated with a B.A. in the Arts. Em’s drive for makeup started in high school, helping backstage in theater productions with more complicated makeup. Em recall’s a time where they had the opportunity to make their family look like zombies.

Em states while attending college, they took a makeup class with an instructor by the name of Eric Griffis, and it was this class that would further change the direction they envisioned their career in life to take.

Em continued marking her territory in the SFX world and making strides growing as a valued SFX artist. Em landed their first opportunity on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo! Em’s credits include The Birds, The Wedding Singer, Rocky Horror Picture Show, I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change, and the Netflix film, Mine 9 just to name a few. They gladly state they are “blessed to have been a part of 22 award winning films!” The impact of their work surely had to help those productions achieve such accomplishments. Besides film and theater, Em has worked on various music videos with numerous celebrity artists. Such as Rapper Young Thug.

Em, and I were able to unravel the highly anticipated Sebastian film and get more in-depth of the details of the mask. They say they were a part of the making of the film Sebastian since it was a baby. When asked what their goal was in achieving the look on the intriguing mask for Sebastian, Em stated “Mann Robinson’s goal was to create a mask making it appear like skin.” Em shared with me the secret sauce they used to accomplish this captivating mask. They stated, “it physically took over 2 days to create the mask." Yet, the mental process of creating it and brewing thoughts, constant meeting of the minds was extensive and lengthy. Their efforts and combined creativity effectively achieved at birthing a mask masterpiece. I am, however, looking forward to seeing the mask in Sebastian, and the impact it will leave on its viewers.

I recently followed up with Em who stated, “They’ve recently been overbooked,” which can’t be a bad thing! What a blessing it must be to be overbooked in the middle of a pandemic.

To view some of Em’s work, click here. To reach Em, follow them on Instagram @bloodyemfx.

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