Maia Pavord on completing a ScreenSkills Select course

Maia Pavord had always been a fan of films and TV shows growing up, but art education had  been challenging for her as someone with a hearing impairment. It wasn’t until she received a two-day taster course at the Iver Make-Up Academy (IMA) as a gift, that she considered a career in screen. The demonstration-based nature of the ScreenSkills endorsed course proved ideal for her. “I instantly fell in love with what I was doing and with the learning environment, so I decided I wanted to join the industry,” she says.

She moved from Abergavenny to Uxbridge to pursue the IMA’s advanced certificate in make-up and hair artistry, a course endorsed by ScreenSkills Select. “The IMA has a great reputation and track record when it comes to getting their students work placements,” Maia explains her choice. “My time at the IMA has been the most mind-opening education experience I have ever had. I felt in my element around the people I met, which was something I hadn’t experienced in a very long time.”

Maia had previously started an arts foundation degree, but her hearing impairment meant she struggled to follow the lectures. As a result, she fell behind and eventually had to quit her studies. At Iver, she initially faced similar difficulties. “One of the most challenging things for me has been finding the confidence to ask for support when I need it,” she says. “I wasn’t able to watch, listen and write notes at the same time, so the academy helped me by having a note taker assist me.”

As a visual learner, the course was ideal for Maia. “Every day started with a tutorial and demonstration, so I was able to observe and understand.” In addition to the practical lessons, students also learned how to find work and about other opportunities out there that could help them get a foot in the door in the industry.

The IMA also helped students find traineeships. “Liz Tagg-Wooster, the principal, was contacted by a former Iver student who mentioned that a well-known television production was looking for a Welsh hair and make-up artist trainee,” Maia says. “She sent through my CV and put me in touch with the production, I interviewed and was given the job. I’m really happy to have found such a great job close to home.”

Owing to the Covid-19 risk, people will be wearing masks, something that poses an additional challenge for Maia. “I rely on lip reading as well as sound,” she explains. “My cochlear implant works well but I need to see people’s facial expressions. I have asked if people at my new job can wear clear masks to make communication easier for me.”

Maia is keen to start her traineeship and to show that people with a disability such as hers can work and thrive in the screen industry. “It is important not to be shy and ask for help were needed, but the most important skills to have are the ability to work hard, learn from others and be helpful.”

She is certainly willing to work hard to make her dreams come true. “It would be great to work as a make-up artist on a feature film and to eventually win a Bafta award,” she says.

ScreenSkills Select was developed by ScreenSkills, supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds as part of the Future Film Skills strategy