Everyone who watches Supernatural knows who Jensen, Jared, Felicia and Ruth are; but do you know who Zabrina is? This interview is part of the continuing effort by the Lusty Fangirls to bring some much deserved attention to the people working behind the scenes of Supernatural. Zabrina Matiru is the incredibly talented Head of the Makeup Department and because makeup is pretty important to Supernatural, we thought that this must be a very demanding job, indeed. That’s why we approached Zabrina, who very graciously agreed to an interview, if only we could give her some more time, as Season 10 was winding down and it was extremely hectic. After seeing the last few episodes, we can understand why she was so busy! With the season 10 finale finished and Supernatural officially on hiatus, she finally found a few minutes of downtime to answer our questions.
IV: I’ve just introduced you as the makeup girl on Supernatural, but I’m sure there’s much more to your work day than “only” doing makeup. Could you describe your typical work day for us, and what other responsibilities fall to you, if any?
ZM: My work day does indeed consist of more than solely doing the makeup. Before any makeup is applied there are meetings with the director and producers regarding the script. Discussions happen with other departments about where our jobs could overlap. Sometimes this includes Hair, Costumes, Special FX, Special Makeup FX, and Art Department & Props.
After all the logistics are settled, makeup tests done and approved, we go to camera.
My day starts and ends in the makeup trailer. As a team we are responsible for setting a positive tone for ourselves, as well as for all the actors that come into the trailer every day. We apply the required looks, maintain them throughout the day, change them if necessary and then clean the actors up when they are done for the day.
IV: It’s great to hear that it’s such a collaborative atmosphere, being involved with other departments as well. Hard work though, Zabrina. Then again, there’s probably never a dull moment for you and your colleagues.
Although a bit stereotypical, I guess it is still true that many teenage girls are interested in makeup, but not many want to, or are able to succeed in, making a career in makeup. Was makeup one of your teenage passions? What first got you interested in makeup as a career? Did you want to do beauty makeup, or was special effects always your intended career?
ZM: Well, I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I was 15, and my mother bought me a purple Max Factor eye shadow palette. The first thing I did was to give myself a black eye! Maybe that was a sign for things to come, but I didn’t realize it at the time.
I’ve always had an interest in fashion, film and television. However, as a teenager I didn’t think that it was remotely possible to have a career in any of these fields. Eventually, I enrolled in a School of Fashion Design and upon graduation I discovered that there were different avenues I could explore. A friend of mine from the design school encouraged me to attend Makeup School, and it was there that I decided to attempt a career as a makeup artist. I wrestled with the decision to follow a career in fashion, or a career in film. I thought I could do both, but as it turns out, my path has ultimately been film and TV.
IV: I’m sure that every reader agrees that you are doing a great job at Supernatural. You’ve surely found your talent. The last few Seasons makeup and SFX have become ever more important.
I am wondering, with the popularity of the special effects makeup competition “FaceOff” on Syfy Channel, if you have seen any changes, good or bad, to the industry?
ZM: It is wonderful exposure for the industry of Makeup Artistry, which can only be a good thing. I wish I had seen shows like FaceOff when I was growing up.
IV: Yes, I can imagine that it would have helped discover your passion if programs like this had existed earlier. But then again, with or without FaceOff, you probably would have ended up working with makeup on TV and film anyway, if that is where your passion lies.
I don’t suppose this is your first job in the television or movie world, though. Have you worked on any other shows and could you compare them with Supernatural? Are you employed by WB Studios, or are you self-employed? Also, how is it for you, being a woman, working in this male-dominated environment?
ZM: I’ve been working as a MakeUp Artist in film and television for over 15 years — that’s a lot of shows. Supernatural, has been one of my favorite experiences, it is a very unique and wonderful show to be a part of. The cast and crew are one big dysfunctional family — family being the operative word.
Saying that, the fact that the industry is male dominated is not lost on me. My goals as a film technician are to uphold my identity as a woman, and compete on a level where my professionalism, creativity, and merit speak for itself.
IV: Yes, girl! That’s a mentality we Lusty Fangirls can endorse and admire. That’s why we are trying to give our sisters lots of exposure and support.
There are all kinds of nasty creatures on Supernatural and many people get horribly wounded. I guess they all pass through your department and many start their day in your chair. Does the makeup ever gross you out?
ZM: In an ideal situation, we would get to apply all the makeup in the trailer, with good lighting, mirrors and enough time. However, more often than not, the makeup is applied on the go between takes, or even during the takes with the cameras still rolling for fight sequences. Makeup changes can happen on location due to the trailers being too far away from the set. Makeup is applied everywhere from in the middle of a forest, to a dark damp dungeon, or an overturned car.
Blood doesn’t really gross me out, however I get squeamish about certain textures.
IV: Talking about getting squeamish, one of our Lusty Ladies commented that many makeup artists moonlight working in funeral homes. Have you ever worked with a real dead body and real blood? I don’t know if this question says something about her imagination… But have you?
ZM: I haven’t worked in a funeral home or had to deal with real blood. I’m sure some makeup artists have, but none of the ones I know.
IV: Good for you, I’m not sure I could manage a job there. I’ve seen too much Supernatural, I guess, to work with dead people. Haha!
Of course you see Jensen and Jared often, a fact that we Lusties are extremely jealous of, green with envy even. WE think the guys look hot being bloody and dirty. What do YOU think is their best look?
ZM: Rugged and dirty, with or without blood.
IV: Yay, girl! But let’s be honest. They look good any way we can get them.
Being guys, I imagine the boys being a bit impatient, sitting in your chair, being turned into “painted whores.” But maybe I’m completely wrong about this. Are they fussy about their makeup or are they like, “that’s good, let me outta here”?
ZM: I am very conscious of how much time I take to get the work done. I’m fortunate that Jared and Jensen understand that I’m always attempting to do the best job possible, in as little time as possible.
IV: Yes, I suppose they are very professional, otherwise the series wouldn’t have lasted this long, and I’m sure they probably trust you to give it your best as well.
There are some elaborate makeovers needed for some episodes, judging from what we can see on television. What’s the longest someone has spent in your chair? Who was this and why did that take so long?
ZM: The longest makeups are of the ones that involve the entire body, or multiple areas on the body. The longest makeup that I can recall was the tortured Wiener Boy from season 8 — he had multiple lacerations, bruising, dried blood and dirt. That was about 2hrs.
IV: Oh yes, I remember him. He had an impressive collection of wounds on him. Good job Zabrina!
Have you ever done makeup for any of the major award shows like the Oscars?
ZM: Not yet, but one day.
IV: That would be awesome and I’m sure that would top it all! But if there is one thing that Supernatural has taught us, is that nothing is impossible, right?
Can you recall incidents on Supernatural where makeup had to be redone? I mean, pies have known to be thrown about on set and probably many more pranks we don’t know about and which likely mess up the makeup. Do the antics bother you, or is it just another day on set for you?
ZM: Having fun on set is one of the delights of working on Supernatural. Re-setting makeup is part of my job, sometimes it is part of the scene and sometimes it happens to be part of a prank… if a few giggles are involved, it’s worth it!
IV: Talking about pranks, have you ever been fooled by makeup, like “OMG what happened to your eye?” or can you always spot a makeup job?
ZM: If I have been fooled by makeup, it was so good I didn’t realize I was being fooled.
IV: Good point!
Coke or Pepsi Neither, but if I have to choose… Coke
Nails or makeup Makeup
Gabriel or Balthasar Balthasar
USA or Canada Canada
Chocolate or gummi bears Chocolate covered gummi bears
Jensen with freckles or Jensen without freckles Freckles obviously
Dogs or cats DOGS
Saxx or Calvin Klein Saxx forever
Jared – early season shorter hair, or later season long hair? Long but messy
IV: I agree with most of your answers there, but “chocolate covered gummi bears?” ……. We might have to get Jensen to try that new variety!
Speaking of hair, Jared mentioned recently that he was asked if he wanted to dye his hair to cover the gray. The boys have obviously grown up on the show. As they’ve gotten older, has that affected the makeup or techniques you’ve had to use on them? I know as I’ve gotten older, my hair texture has changed. Have they experienced any of these changes, too (that you can admit to)?
ZM: I joined Supernatural in Season 8, so I’ve been working with the boys as “men”. Their grooming needs have definitely changed since the beginning of the show. When I had my initial discussion with Jared and Jensen, they both wanted a fresh start when it came to technique and product. Shooting in Vancouver, we have mild but seasonal changes throughout the year. One’s requirements in the summer differ from those in the winter, so in addition to an overall progression, there are also seasonal changes too.
IV: Sounds like the Dutch climate you’re describing. Definitely different seasons and therefore different hair problems! I guess I need a hair and makeup artist, too! Focusing on the makeup again, in one of our previous SPN interviews Ruth Connell, aka Rowena, complemented you when asked about the secret of her beautiful skin. So please let us in on this secret. What do you do for Ruth, or any of the Supernatural ladies, to make her skin look flawless? I am sure many of us regular girls are very interested to get a few tips from a pro like you. Maybe you could share some of your favorite makeup brands?
ZM: Good skin is the key to making anyone look “flawless”, male or female, so a good skincare routine is imperative. I always have the ladies come into the trailer with clean skin; this allows me to see what their skin looks like and what I need to do to prep my “canvas”. I like to use a primer, some of my favorites are, Dermalogica, MakeUp Forever HD and Smashbox. Set the base with powder; again, I like Hourglass, Chantecaille, MAC and Laura Mercier. Blush on the apples of the cheeks gives a youthful glow, and a little bit of highlight on the cheekbones with Kevyn Aucoin “Candle Light”. This gives a subtle sheen to the skin.It seems like a lot of steps, but getting a smooth completion will make the rest of the look come together.
I then use a concealer. One for under the eyes and a different one on blemishes. Laura Mercier is great for both.
Foundation is a must for that flawless look. On Ruth I use Armani or Koh Gen Do. In addition to those, some of my favorites include Chantecaille, Hourglass, MakeUp Forever and Chanel.
IV: Thank you for letting us have a look in your makeup bag, Zabrina! I’m sure many readers will be very grateful for you sharing this information.
ZM: A saucy individual full of life, and not afraid to speak his or her mind, especially when it comes to appreciating the finer things in life.
IV: Beautiful last answer Zabrina!
was my pleasure to doing this interview with you. I’ve learned a lot about behind the scenes and makeup on Supernatural. Thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions and I hope that you stay with the series for many years to come (see what I did there?).