Exactly where the climax of a career in TV & Film hits is relative. And upon first meeting, Krista’s down-to-earth sincerity belies her soaring perch in our Hollywood North. Her name tops a colossally impressive imDb list – which includes credits for AMC series Fear the Walking Dead, Warcraft, iZombie, Proof, Final Destination 5, Disney’s Descendants and The L Word – and you might not ever have guessed it, had you not caught the focussed glint and forward keel of her speech.
We’re sitting in one of Atelier Campus’ vast glass rooms, where Krista is sharing with us the career that has been tetris-packed into her years since graduating from Blanche Macdonald’s Makeup program. And as with all TV & Film stories, there are delightful deviations of plot to be had too...
“Sam Elliott is a total icon, and he has a beautiful moustache that is almost equally iconic. And I had to trim it the first time that I met him. All I could think was, ‘Please don’t let me be the person to ruin Sam Elliott’s trademark ‘stache!’ ” laughs Krista who, thankfully, left the actor’s golden feature intact.
“It’s important to stay grounded through it all, especially with TV & Film. Maybe you make up some celebrity types but that’s not really what the job’s about. It’s just an aside. It’s not why you’re there.”
So why is she where she is, a hurtling force of the industry, pruning the big screen elite? Together we rewind.
“I fell into TV & Film in the best possible way. I had already gone to University and done a degree in Sociology, had done a lot of traveling, had lived in London, England. And when I went back to Saskatchewan, where I was from, I decided that it was just too small and moved to Vancouver. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life at that point so I started taking a lot of art classes and it was actually a drawing instructor that suggested a career in Makeup for me.”
Krista’s indecision-fuelled leap to Canada’s Top Makeup program was one that would inform the artist that she is today. By the time she left Blanche Macdonald’s halls, she was eager to write Makeup into the next chapter of her life.
“I use everything I learned at BMC in my work. It gave me a foundation of knowledge on which to build upon, and gave me confidence to go out and try to achieve a career in Makeup Artistry.
“I had to make it work. And I did. If Makeup is what you see yourself doing, then you have to throw everything into it, give it your all. I know that’s a cliche but it’s completely true. When I graduated, I really focused on print and fashion initially just to build my portfolio. I was lucky that at that point I fell into a group of people who were producing a new magazine called Butter, which was a big local fashion publication in the early 2000’s in Vancouver.”
The experience came full and fast, and Krista took it all in eagerly. As such, she was a hot spot on the roster radar for Lizbell, then a fledgling collective of artists, now a world-renowned premiere boutique agency. She whisked about the fashion scene as a represented Makeup and Hair Artist in Vancouver, and in Toronto with The Artist Group for five years. Working creatively within the this world was a dream for Krista, who had always admired it from afar. And some years later, she happened upon her chance to make it to the very core of Fashion’s culture.
“I was in Hawaii shooting a print campaign for the Sheraton Hotel, working with my friend Tania Becker (who co-owns Moods Salon and works on virtually every major fashion show in all four central Fashion Week cities) and I was telling her how sometime I would love to work on a Fashion Week show. She said, “Jon Hennessey is keying a show in New York next month, you should ask him if he needs any more people for his team." And that was that!
“The designer was Raif Adelberg, and it was a menswear show that [Blanche Macdonald Fashion Makeup Director] Jon Hennessey designed and keyed. The look was savage and slightly tribal, and it was a really fun and exciting experience.”
This was 2012, and back at home, Krista had already been making big climbs in the world of TV & Film as a full member of IATSE. During her years signed on with Lizbell, she had begun taking on student films and commercials between editorial shoots. As soon as she had enough credits, she applied for her Permittee Status with IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts], worked her 90 IATSE set days and was sworn in as a Full Member. The full time Union gigs rushed in.
“In the beginning, when you’re not as established and people don’t quite know you yet, you have to take jobs in a quicker succession just to make those connections, get that experience and get your name out there. Day calling is great for that. Working on The Chronicles of Riddick really helped me establish a lot of connections. I met so many Makeup Artists just by working on that one show. But that’s also a part of the battle because once that show’s wrapped, all of the artists split off to work somewhere else; if you’re someone that stood out in your work and in how you worked with your team, they’ll remember that and call you back when they need help on their future shows. So building up your reputation and those relationships is so important.”
Of all such relationships forged on Krista’s first heavy-hitting day call, there is one that brings out the most sparkle in her voice; it was on set of The Chronicles of Riddick that she first worked “out in the real world” with fellow Blanche Macdonald graduate and Associate Makeup Director Jennifer Folk.
“I love Jen – she’s honestly been my biggest cheerleader and I can’t thank her enough for that. I really looked up to her as a mentor; when you’re new, you observe people and how they work. It’s important to step back to watch the people around you, watch what it is they’re doing, to try to emulate those good qualities. Jen was really sweet but firm; she knew what there was to do, made sure it was done and did it all in such a nice way. I had incredible respect for her.
“I worked again with Jen on The L word and then, for Painkiller Jane, she gave me a huge opportunity. She was asked to go to Europe to shoot but the timing wasn’t going to work with her. She put my name forward to go to Budapest, Hungary for two months. It was awesome.”
Since then, Krista’s name has rarely needed introduction. With over two dozen credits under her belt, and a sweet-meets-steadfast demeanor, Krista has become a choice call-up on big league sets. One Head of Department even proclaimed Krista as their “absolute favourite First Assistant!”
“I was working on the Fear The Walking Dead series before going on to X-men Apocalypse and that was pretty cool, with all the buzz surrounding it!
“Had you told me when I was still in Makeup School that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, 15 years down the road, I would have been overjoyed. It is exciting, but you always want to stay humble. I feel very fortunate to be working as a Makeup Artist for TV & Film. It is really difficult but it’s also possible; the main thing is to have perseverance.”
Difficult and possible, high demand and high reward – the tough realities of a career in TV & Film is not something that Krista gleans over, even if she does love what she does.
“It can be a real eye opener when you start. I remember my very first IATSE day call was 21 hours long. Day one, had never set foot on an IATSE set, and I didn’t leave until 21 hours later. I thought, ‘OK, this is what it is.’ Since that time I don’t think I’ve ever done a day that long, but there are people out there who will have those hours.
“We have to do a lot of creative improvisation in this job too. When I was working on Warcraft, we were shooting with a lot of facial hair. For one group we’d hand laid a lot of crepe hair because we had been told that they would be in the deep background. Of course, at the last minute, these people were brought to the front and these pieces that weren’t finessed for tight camera range were going to be up close. In this sort of situation, you have to make adjustments on the fly to make things camera ready. You have to keep sharp and always watching what the shot is because it’s often not going to be what you’ve been told.”
And yet, the rush, the push and an element of improvisation suits Krista well, both on the job and off.
“I really love the variety of my career. I love that we don’t have a regular schedule. I can’t even imagine having only three weeks vacation a year, or whatever it is that most employees have in their jobs! Traveling is a super important part of my life that I do a lot of when I’m between jobs. I’m usually trying to jump a plane to go somewhere!”
No matter how enticing the faraway is however, Krista always finds herself coming back to Vancouver, settling back into the day-to-day adventure of her career.
“We have uber talented crews here in Vancouver, and I’ve heard the same statement coming from a lot of teams coming up from the States or from out east. The talent pool here is stellar, I’m really happy to be a part of it; to learn within this group of peers and mentors.
“As I’ve gone further in my career, there are only more people that I’ve aspired to work for, that I have worked for and still hope to work with, to add to my list. My goals are to keep learning from the people in this city who are at the top of their game.”
Kindness under pressure and humbleness in the face of well-mustachioed stardom have made Krista mentor herself to those starting out in the TV & Film industry. For some, it may seem she’s reached a climax of her career, but the moxie to bring her bold personal visions into being has made Krista’s climax ever-rising.
“I’ve learned that it’s important to set your own goals, and that you can achieve them if you name them to yourself or to others. If there is something you want to go after or if there is something that you would like to do, I do believe in the power putting it out there. Because people remember. If something comes up, people will remember that and pass it along. It’s using the power of networking and the people that you know.
“You have to keep your ego in check. Nobody knows it all and it’s fine to not know everything. If you have a bit of success, just keep going with it. Don’t think you’ve reached your pinnacle because there is no pinnacle. You set your own ceiling.”