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“You better be good at what you do”

Last update - Thursday, September 18, 2008, 00:00 By Metro Éireann

In the latest instalment of Metro Éireann’s MEET THE BOSS, SANDY HAZEL speaks to makeup artist Roy Wong from Malaysia

THE size of Ireland means that competition is stiff in the glamour industry. But, according to freelance make-up artist Roy Wong, this is what makes standards so high. “The film and theatre world in Ireland is relatively small,” he says, “and this means that everyone knows your name and reputation fairly soon, so you had better be good at what you do.”
Wong, originally from Malaysia, is dedicating part of his working life to building up a freelance career in the highly competitive makeover industry. “Ever since I was young I loved creating styles with hair and makeup,” he recalls. “I worked here to afford fees for an intensive course at the Makeover Room, an academy in Dublin.” The Malaysian feels that the course was a good investment and has already paid off. Accredited by the International Therapy Education Council (Itec) and industry-recognised, it offered Wong a full introduction to the world of makeup artistry for theatre and film. “I was worried when I started studying,” he confides, “I knew my speaking English is good, but I was afraid that my written English would let me down especially in the exams.” Wong need not have worried so much as he went on to achieve a credit in his practical and theory exams. According to Wong, the academy was also “very supportive of fresh graduates”.
Since passing his exams Wong has steadily built up a solid client list that includes work with photographers, models and actors. He is now garnering film credits at a rate of knots. “I have also done some theatre,” he adds, “I worked on Gerry and the Peace Process at last year’s Fringe Festival in Dublin.”
He admits that being around actors is “just great fun” and adds further enjoyment to his job. Wong is an associate makeup artist for photographer Trevor Caldwell’s Silver Cloud Images, well-known for its portfolio work with Ireland’s actresses and models. Meanwhile, private clients are an ever growing market. “Women and girls come to us to help celebrate a special occasion like a debs or maybe just to have a shot for business publicity. Some come if they have a public speaking engagement,” explains Wong. “The main thing is that we make them feel really good about themselves while they are getting made up in hair and makeup. Then they see the results, and usually Trevor will email a selection of shots to them to choose from. It is fantastic to help make women look great and feel more confident about themselves. I know it is an uplifting experience for them.”
Wong has had to invest a significant sum in the tools of this trade: “I bought an airbrushing system which was two grand. The total for the contents of my kit would probably come to over €20,000.” Based in Gorey, Co Wexford, Wong has access to studios around the Arklow, Wicklow and Wexford area, but “is mobile too”.
Full self-employment is the long-term plan for Wong, who adds that he is keen to get more black women, literally, into his hands. “You know that women with black skin are very lucky. They have a texture of skin that ages really well, no wrinkles. I would love to do more makeovers on black women. Every time I see a black girl I just want to put gold on her eyelids.

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