Make-up trainee Imani Ramsey

Watching a television programme on tattoos inspired Imani to pursue a career in make-up for film and TV and her work on the series Hanna has convinced her that prosthetics and special effects are the areas she would like to specialise in.

There are a number of prosthetics on the NBCUniversal International Studios production, she says, including “one big prosthetic that involves an artist they’ve hired who’s going to apply prosthetics to one of the character’s arms where she’ll be taking something from out of her arm.”

It is certainly a world away from her choice of A-levels, which were English, law and psychology.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she says. Then she watched a programme about tattoos and admired the drawing process. “Having seen the way they brought tattoos to life, I knew I wanted to do something creative like that. Then I saw make-up on Instagram and the different fields of it and then special effects drew my attention.”

She began studying an NVQ in make-up and hair for theatre and TV, then went on to do a BTEC for two years in make-up for film and TV in Kingston, south-west London.

After completing a course in specialist make-up and TV at University College Birmingham in 2017, the 24-year-old worked in retail but also gained work experience on Sky drama Temple.

It was whilst working on Temple that she heard what the ScreenSkills’ trainee scheme could offer. Applying was “quite daunting,” she says, only because “you’re so hard on yourself wanting to get it right and be accepted. I prepared for the interview so much, I really wanted it. ScreenSkills made me feel so welcome and at ease. I got a call about two weeks later whilst at my retail job. I screamed. It was so exciting.”

Imani thinks being on the scheme helps because having been vetted through the ScreenSkills programme changes people’s attitudes. “They know that you’re committed to what you’re doing.”

Despite the long hours, sometimes in the cold, she loves her job and says: “There’s nothing I don’t enjoy working on Hanna.”

She also warns her field has “a lot more to it than make-up” such as “continuity sheets, which are so important because that is what helps the make-up artists know what they’re going to be doing for the next shoot. You have to do petty cash and cash cards. You have to know where everything is…you have to be on the ball the whole time and have a lot of product knowledge.”

For those who want to follow in her footsteps, she advises applying to ScreenSkills: “They’re so proactive in emailing and letting us know what jobs are going on and networking events. They’re always there to speak to you if you need help.”

Although she lives in north London, she says would-be trainees should not be put off if they live outside the capital as “there are so many productions going on in other areas of England.”

Her experience on Hanna has made her realise she’d like to do more courses and focus on workshop work. However, she says: “The stand-out days have been those on set, as you can experience what’s happening and get more of an understanding about what’s going on; it connects the dots more.”

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