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Wigs, hair and make up internship at Peaky Blinders: The Rise

December 07, 2022

Amy McDiarmid completed a 8 week Masterclass internship on the production of Peaky Blinders: The Rise as Hair, Wigs and Make Up Assistant for the production. We caught up with Amy to hear all about her internship experience

What does it take to do a Hair, Wigs & Make up role on an immersive show??

Go in knowing that it’s not going to go right the first time! Accept that it’s a challenge, and it’s going to be hard. I learnt a lot in my training, but I’ve started from base zero on the internship and learnt so many new things. It took me a day and half to style a new wig, it wasn’t where it should have been. Go into a role like this with patience, trusting the internship process and use the people around you for help. It’s about learning! You’re made to feel like a member of the team, just one that can ask a lot more questions! Remember to ask, no one is going to say no. Grab it with both hands and understand there is no pressure to get it completely right!

What sort of wigs did you have to use for Peaky?

We’ve used quite a mixture. Full hair, mix synthetic & real hair and synthetic wigs. One long hair wig in the show for the character Polly. If we’re sticking to the main performance characters, not considering understudies, we had 4 wigs in the show that needed to be styled. 1 long hair, and 3 short hairs. Following the 1910-1920's vibe.

What does the day to day life in this role look like?

It depends on the day! Tech – we'd go in and wash, set and style the wigs. I’d watch Abbie, my supervisor do a lot of the barbering cuts. The fittings happen in tech as well which I was able to observe. On a show day, we’re limited with our hours – we essentially go in, grab a wig each from dressing rooms, brush it out and reset it. Which takes 30 – 45 minutes per wig. Then we do our show call when we get actors ready with hair and makeup. We have our own list of actors who we get ready. Make sure non-wig actors are also getting their hair ready. On this show all the actors did the make-up themselves, unless there were special effects needed. This is unusual for a show, but due to the timings of the show call – wigs took priority.
Then we start our show track, I’ve followed the supervisor on the show tracks and have also been able to run these myself. Doing quick changes, prepping facial hair and ensuring everything is clean!

What was the biggest challenge you came across during Peaky and how did you handle it?

The biggest challenge was probably accepting that I’m not going to get it right the first time. The styling of the wigs has been really challenging, as it’s the first time in the industry I’ve been styling wigs, and wanted to meet the standards of the team. Abbie has magical hands when it comes to styling, I’ve loved watching her work and learning from her. You don’t have to be a perfectionist! Styling the natural hair is super tricky, have confidence in the work you’ve done and try your best. The woman’s changing room has a really great saying, from Daisy, no comparative mindsets are allowed in this changing room. Which really helps, when you’re doing a role which someone else has been doing for years. It made me feel more sure about my work.

What was your favourite part of the internship?

EVERYTHING! I really could not choose a specific moment. Anytime that I spend, which is all the time, with crew and cast. It is such an amazing group of people. Abbie and I bought finger puppets the other day to entertain the crew – finding those moments in the chaos is great. There is a bit of space for us to have fun with the actors during the show. I cannot speak better words about the last couple of months, meeting people and making contacts.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been asked to go back as an assistant on the show, which is a massive compliment and confidence boost. Unfortunately I can’t take it, as I’ve got something lined up. Going into TV in October with the BBC for 6 months – but I will definitely be returning to immersive shows after that. I love the environment, the chaos and fun! It will be really interesting to compare TV and Theatre and see what the different working environments are.

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