Victoria Nugent on ScreenSkills' Leaders of Tomorrow programme

Victoria Nugent on ScreenSkills' Leaders of Tomorrow programme

Victoria Nugent is one of the latest cohort selected to take part in the ScreenSkills Leaders of Tomorrow programme. The three-year programme is focused on providing comprehensive and tailored support to mid-level professionals working in High-end TV to give them the tools to progress to senior-level, decision-making roles in the future.

Victoria is delighted to have been selected, having started her career in the industry on ScreenSkills’ new entrant programme, Trainee Finder, some years ago. “It helped me get my break,” she says.

Victoria grew up in Bridgend, in Wales, and moved to Brighton to study at Sussex University. She decided her degree in human sciences, however, “wasn't for me, as it wasn't really the road I wanted to go down”.

Having always been interested in hair and make-up, she decided to change career direction and took a course at Delamar Academy in London, later doing sewing work in various West End theatre and opera shows. After joining ScreenSkills’ Trainee Finder programme, she received a placement on the hair and make-up department of British-American comedy Episodes, starring Matt LeBlanc and Tamsin Greig.

She has steadily added to her CV and moved into supervisor roles. For the past year Victoria mostly worked on Darkness Rising, a cyber drama produced by Channel 4, and Crossfire, a thriller mini-series starring Keeley Hawes, made by her production company Buddy Club, which Victoria fitted in around “bits and bobs” of daily work on other productions.

It was through social media that Victoria heard about the ScreenSkills Leaders of Tomorrow programme with her placement starting last summer. “Because I had been through the Trainee Finder programme I knew it helped you find placements, but this would also be helpful in meeting new people and opening new doors in the industry. Sometimes it can be hard to work with people unless they know you.”

She describes the funding for training as part of the programme as “incredibly helpful”. “You always need to be topping up your skills and learning because things change so often – new techniques, new materials, for instance.”

Victoria jokes that in High-end TV make-up departments “you're sort of expected to be able to do everything” from period wigs to make-up to create cuts and bruises, but if she had to choose a favourite area it would be wigs and period hairstyles. “They're so beautiful to look at and the work is so rewarding when you make them look nice.”

As part of the programme Victoria has already been able to take a “brilliant” course on Afro-textured hair, an “invaluable” top-up barbering course and a period wig course.

Victoria was also drawn to the mentoring that is a crucial part of the Leaders of Tomorrow programme. “It's great having someone you can call on if you have any questions. It's great having someone in your corner to give advice.”

Her mentor is Claire Williams, who runs hair and make-up departments. “I ask her about negotiating for her team and how to speak to line producers,” says Victoria.

As Victoria's ambition is to be a head of department - “I don't want to rush it but that's the ideal outcome eventually” – she has talked to Claire about how she puts a team together. “I ask how she brings in different skillsets, how she manages them, and how everybody works together. It's so important that a team gets along.

“There are all sorts of factors that come into play when you're putting a team together.”

Victoria is a fan not just of Claire but of ScreenSkills’ mentoring generally and recognises how important it is in the industry. “It's quite a big ask but people like Claire give their time for free. I think it's very kind of them when people are so busy.”

She also tries to learn from people she works with on set. “I'm always keen to learn from the designers I've worked with about all aspects of the job. For me, the biggest incentive in a job is if it means working with a designer whose work I admire.”

More than halfway into her first year in the three-year programme, Victoria says it's going well. “The Leaders of Tomorrow is an important step along the way. It builds your confidence while you add to your CV.”

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