For many of us, the Toronto International Film Festival is a chance to enjoy a night on the town, check out some buzzy movies, and hopefully have a meet-cute with Michael B. Jordan. But for the celebs, publicists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and hundreds of others hustling behind-the-scenes, the festival is a grind (albeit a fun one). We asked some of TIFF’s insiders to spill on how they spent their busiest hours.
Today: Toronto-based celebrity makeup artist Simone Otis, who has worked with everyone from Salma Hayek to Rachel McAdams.
Sunday, Sept. 8
5:30 a.m. — My daughter is in Grade 6 and she gets up early on the weekends. I want to spend a little time with her before work, so I get up extra early. I’m not the kind of person to roll out and go. I have a coffee and relax. I always say that I like to meet myself first before I meet the rest of the world. I prepare my kit night before. I have a bag with the things I can’t live without — it’s got all the right lipstick colours, some powders, some palettes, some things that I might use universally on everyone. Years ago you could have one bag of foundations. Now, I have to have a heavier foundation, a lighter-coverage foundation, a dewy foundation. Today, people are super aware of what we can do with makeup and what works for them. They’re amateur makeup artists and hairdressers.
8:00 a.m. — I take an Uber downtown to the Hyatt Regency, where I’m working with Ozark star Charlie Tahan, who is in town for the movie, III. He’s a young, really cool guy, super fun to work with. He needs a little more of a jeuje because he has a bit of a breakout.
Generally, if I have the time, I always do some skin care before makeup because I really believe that prepping the skin makes for the best look. I always have a gentle exfoliator, a powder one from Tatcha. Then I tone and moisturize. I always go back to Shiseido moisturizer. Nobody breaks out from their products. I’m doing Charlie’s hair as well. He’s very chill; he seems a little shy and very real. He must have good parents.
10 a.m. — I Uber back home because I have a break. My daughter has a big project for school so she’s prepping that. My husband is trying to get some work done. I repack my kit — washing brushes and making sure that I have everything.
11:30 a.m. — Back to Charlie to get him ready for his next event. We do a little extra hair stuff just to make sure he feels a little like “I fell out of bed looking this cool.” This time, I start his makeup with a spray of Omorovicza thermal water. It’s such a light beautiful mist and it just re-vitalizes the skin without me having to go in so hard with more makeup. I reapply a little concealer, use a mattifier and off he goes! I wait to eat until after I see a client. I don’t know what other people do but I prefer to be hygienic. I don’t want to be touching anything. So I’ll just eat before or eat after. I only eat tons of mint [because I am so close to people’s faces]. I want Excel mint to sponsor me! I eat them like candy. They burn inside your mouth — I love them.
2:15 p.m. — My next client, Stephanie Kurtzuba, who is in Bad Education, has rented an apartment close to the CN Tower. So I walk over because it’s not too far. I actually run into her in the lobby — I’m early and was going to leave my kit with the concierge — but she invites me up to start her makeup. This is fun because the more time I get with a woman or someone who wants more of a “look” is just so much better.
I set up my light and my kit and we chat about what she’s going to wear and what kind of vibe she wants. I give her some options. You really have to read the room and make sure you’re not pushing a celebrity. But sometimes they want you to push! You want to carefully make them feel confident. Sometimes I show photos for inspiration, but even with that I’m careful. If I’m going to show an actress pictures of makeup ideas, I try to pick people who look similar to them. I don’t want to show a 40-something actress a photo of a 20-year-old model. It just feels like I’m being insulting.
4 p.m. — Still at it! These things take a long time, they really do. Especially if someone wants a full beat. Some actresses, we need two to three hours between hair and makeup to make sure that it looks seamless and to make sure it is actually popping. For a premiere, you have to go a little heavy handed in the right way. We decide to go for a red lip. I use the Pat McGrath lipstick “Obsessed” which I mix with bit of a Bite lipstick that isn’t quite as orange-y. When you’re on a red carpet those bright lights can make you look completely washed out. I try to make everything as seamless as possible, which takes time even on someone who has perfect skin and no bags. You have to look really hard at the face — maybe they have some green under-eye circles that you can barely see, if I don’t cover these up, they can pop with the lights. I also have to make sure there’s definition, that their eyes, their lips, their cheeks, the shape of their face, stand out enough but don’t look crazy if they’re just standing there talking to you.
4:30 p.m. — Done for the day! I go home and get my kit ready for my Monday client, Gael García Bernal. I didn’t have a drink or a big meal. I try to keep that until it’s all over because you just never know when you might get a call!
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