• Sarah Kennedy

    Creating On-screen Magic

    Portrait of Sarah Kennedy.
    Sarah Kennedy
    Comprehensive Makeup Artist Certificate Graduate

    Makeup and effects artist applies George Brown skills to models and monsters

    The title of a television series Sarah Kennedy recently worked on could also double as her career slogan – Beauty and the Beast. This 2012 graduate of George Brown College’s School of Makeup and Esthetics has an unconventional day job. It typically finds her creating monsters on a television or movie set.

    Sarah’s work experiences range from the gory to the glamorous – creating wounds, hair and teeth with makeup and prosthetics to airbrushing professional models. “I’m having the time of my life. I love the behind-the-scenes aspect of creating creatures and having fun with makeup. You just never know what you’re going to be thrown into on any given day. I come prepared for anything.”

    Her Comprehensive Makeup Artist Certificate courses ranged from Bridal Makeup and Airbrushing Techniques to Special Effects Makeup. They taught her the tricks of the makeup and special effects trade and prepared her for all aspects of the industry.

    Sarah applies these lessons to Toronto’s Fiction Effects, a boutique makeup agency she co-created in 2014. In fact, her instructors’ tips are never far from her thoughts. “I definitely have those moments when I have flashbacks to my teachers and the classroom, and the advice they gave me. Having that knowledge fresh in my mind has paid off on sets.”

    It’s not surprising that Sarah chose a creative path, but George Brown transformed a lifelong passion for all things artistic into a career. Facing daunting prospects as an actress after high school, she opted to enter the world of makeup. The college was her gateway.

    “I never thought I would be where I am today,” she explains. “I’ve been an artist all my life, but it was really hard for me to settle on one particular thing as a career.” She created her first monsters during a high school zombie festival; that experience sparked a career interest in makeup that the college would nurture. “George Brown really appealed to me because the program had a bit of everything – it wasn’t just special effects, it was also beauty,” she explains. “At the time, I didn’t know what avenue I wanted to pursue in makeup, but I was open to the possibilities.”

    Her college connections led to work. After graduation, Sarah’s special effects teacher recommended her for the horror series The Strain, where she transformed background actors into menacing vampires through “paint jobs,” eyebrow prosthetics and neck wounds. George Brown’s air-brushing techniques came in especially handy. “You need to know your way around an airbrush gun,” says the veteran of many television shows. In addition to series such as Defiance, Killjoys and Reign, she has also worked on the film Suicide Squad.

    Sarah credits the program’s Business for Makeup Artists course for helping lay the groundwork for Fiction Effects. “Taking this course, and having teachers who work in the business, helps you think about avenues you want to follow in the makeup world.”

    “I definitely have those moments when I have flashbacks to my teachers and the classroom, and the advice they gave me. Having that knowledge fresh in my mind has paid off on sets.”

    While Sarah’s company focuses on special effects for film and television, they’re up for anything – especially creature creation. Her dream is complete creative freedom. “I’d love to work on a sci-fi or fantasy movie where I get to create my own creature,” she notes. “If someone came to me and said, ’We need this weird character or random alien, now you go and do your thing,’ I would love that.”

    On every job, Sarah says she learns something new. She felt the same way every time she entered a George Brown classroom. “I just have fun painting faces – whether on the beauty or special-effects side,” she explains. “Beauty and the beasts. That sums up my life right there.”