Screenskills is launching a new initiative to bring hairdressers and make-up artists experienced in working with Black hair and make-up for people of colour into the film and television industry.

Actors, directors and producers are backing the new initiative to encourage new talent in.

It is targeted at hairdressers and make-up artists currently working in areas including Black hair salons, on photo-shoots, in wedding beauty, department stores, music videos, live events and theatre.

A free online introduction to hair and make-up for film and television and how the training programme will work will be held on 20 January. Applications will then be invited from those who want to take up further training to transfer their skills.

Sixteen places will be available for the first round of the training which will conclude with paid placements for all suitable candidates on high-end television productions – prime-time dramas costing £1 million+ an hour to make. Netflix and ITV Studios are among companies who have committed to offer placements from the spring of 2022.

All applicants will need extensive experience in working with Black hair or with make-up for people of colour although it is not expected that candidates will have both. The programme is designed to train them across all hair and make-up needs for film and TV with a series of workshops delivered by highly experienced tutors.

To register applicants should head to hair and make-up transfer programme on the ScreenSkills website.

The training is funded by the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund with the placements supported by the High-end TV Skills Fund, both investing industry contributions from productions made in the UK.

Seetha Kumar, CEO ScreenSkills, said: “We know how it is important to actors to have the right support in helping them bring their characters to life. We are sure that there are people out there with experience in Black hair and make-up for people of colour who would be brilliant for the film and television industry if we can fast-track them in – creating a greater diversity of crew behind the camera to match the changes happening on screen.”

Paapa Essiedu, the Emmy-nominated star of I May Destroy You and  Channel 5’s Anne Boleyn, said:  “My experience of working in the screen industries is it doesn’t work unless everyone is able to work in a way that makes them feel comfortable and confident.  A character starts with the actor but is finessed and completed with the help of so many people including hair and make-up.

“When I started acting, my white peers would just get their hair cut by hair and make-up for their part. The same wasn’t true of my hair.  I would have to take time out of my day and use my budget to go to a barber – my time wasn’t seen as having the same value as my peers.

“This sounds like a great initiative. I hope that it attracts people into the industry who haven’t known how to get in before. It is really important that the process that is creating greater equality in front of the camera is replicated in crew like hair and make-up as well.”

Hugh Quarshie, whose many acting credits include the Stephen Lawrence drama Stephen and Holby City, said: “For years now I have trimmed my own hair using an arrangement of mirrors to enable me to see the back of my head, partly out of convenience but partly because I haven’t always been confident that hair and make-up would style my hair suitably. Black actors may have to resist make-up that is wrong for their skin tone, at the risk of earning a reputation as some kind of diva.  I have had good experiences and bad experiences, though the bad ones are as nothing compared to those of some of my black and brown female colleagues. Training that addresses all this is to be welcomed.”

Barbara Broccoli, producer of films including the James Bond franchise, said: “We have a great need of diversity behind the camera as well as on-screen and this programme is a really exciting and practical way of finding talented new hair and make-up artists to support our actors of colour.”

Sarah Gavron, director of films including Rocks, Brick Lane and Suffragette, (pictured above with cast of Rocks)  said: “On Rocks we had the brilliant Nora Robertson as head of department in make-up and hair. Nora had experience of working with people of colour and her knowledge, talent and skills made our young cast feel very confident on set. This industry needs to open its doors and welcome all the talent out there. Offering support and training is a key part of that.”

Shona Kerr, Director/Senior Counsel, Original Series, and Co-chair of Netflix Black@London, said: As inclusion and diversity are key components of our culture at Netflix, it is very important to us that all of our on-screen talent, regardless of their background, look and feel their best in our productions. For Black talent in particular, it is important for crews to have the necessary skills to address the specific needs of Black hair and complexion.

“To this end, we are thrilled to be supporting the ScreenSkills training initiative which strives to equip attendees with the requisite skills to work on Black hair and make-up in film and television, whilst also diversifying the pipeline of talent entering the industry by providing opportunities for graduates to be placed on some of our UK Netflix series filming in 2022. We are excited for the potential this has to open doors for diverse industry professionals, and also to ensure on-screen talent of all backgrounds feel respected on our sets.”

Matt Cleary, Director of Production, Scripted UK, ITV Studios, said: “We know there are skilled make-up artists and hairdressers working with Black hair and make-up that may not have thought TV was an area for them. We want to change this and encourage those experts to transfer their skills and bring them into the industry by supporting this training and offering them placements within ITV Studios.”


Jon Creamer

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