Q & A: Make-up Artist to the Stars Wendi Lynn Avignone

Wendi with Zachary Quinto

Wendi Lynn Avignone, from her name, may not be well known in the UK, but she has over 7,000 followers on twitter and is the envy of many because of her job. She is a make-up artist in Hollywood and has worked on films including Phonebooth and Spiderman. She has worked on set with well known directors and producers ranging from Ron Howard to Jerry Bruckheimer and was the key make-up artist on my favourite television show Heroes. So I was over-the-moon when she kindly agreed to answer my questions about working on the show and her career.

You’re well known for working on ‘Heroes’ and have gained numerous followers on twitter due to your on-set stories and “Heroes Trivia”, are you aware you have more followers than some UK celebrities? How does this feel?
I feel very flattered and very lucky to have so many wonderful people support me and the show. It’s a good feeling.

As well as ‘Heroes’ you’ve worked on some other amazing shows and films, what has been  your favourite show/film to work on?
I would say it has to be Heroes, for me it has been a life changing experience on so many levels.

You’ve done some very creative make-up on ‘Heroes’. In particular, the episode ‘Homecoming’ received much acclaim for its make-up, how long does it take to make these wounds and are there ever any issues with continuity?
Continuity is a constant battle. We shoot everything out of order, so its a challenge and truly, nothing ever matches. Thats TV though, very fast paced work and much different than film when you get more time. Wounds vary by time due to their size and nature.

Your website shows many on-set photos with the cast, who’s your favourite person to work with?
I enjoy working with almost every actor that I have been able to work with. I’m very fortunate, most of them are truly interesting and a lot of fun. Milo Ventimiglia ranks high though!

Who would be your dream person to do make-up for?
I would love to work on or with Johnny Depp, Robert DeNiro, Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Meryl Streep. There’s so many people, those are just a few of my favourites.

Do you have any funny anecdotes from the set to share?
There are so many, I wouldn’t know where to begin. We have a lot of fun though, our trailer is a lot of fun. We try to make it a loving home for our actors with all their favourite things.

If you could change one thing about your career what would it be?
If I could change one thing, oh there’s too many things to choose one. A few would be these: The lack of credit due to artists and their time allotted to make the job the best it can be. Also, the hours are criminal.

You’ve worked with a range of amazing directors and producers and even worked on Milo Ventimiglia’s series, is it easier working with a director you don’t know or a friend?
It’s always easier working with a director you are familiar with, it’s just much more comfortable.

Working on such huge scale productions must be tiring, especially with night shoots, how many hours do you work averagely in a week?
About 70 hours a week give or take.

What advice would you offer anyone looking into being a make-up artist?
Whilst I wouldn’t trade my job for the world, I will always tell them this – be ready to give your life up, or run like hell and dont look back, get out while you can. While my job has many perks, you trade your life for it. Your life breathes this job.

What was your initial feeling when Heroes was cancelled? Did you feel the story wrapped up in an appropriate way?
I was deeply saddened when Heroes was cancelled. It was very close to my heart. I did feel it was left with a lot of questions and there was still a story that needed to be told or closed, especially for our viewing audience all over the globe. Many people were and are still very attached to the show and I think that said a lot.
Wendi wrote a blog when she found out Heroes was cancelled, describing her relationships with the castmembers and also her initial thoughts of the show, check it out here.

What are your thoughts on doing a Heroes movie?
I would more than welcome a Heroes movie. I think it would be great.

Do you still keep in touch with any of the Heroes cast?
I do in fact keep in touch with almost all of my cast. We catch up on the phone, email, and occasional lunches. We were a family and we intend to keep it as close as we can.

What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a new show entitled Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior. It will be a spin off of the popular series “Criminal Minds” and will follow in its time slot on Wednesday nights beginning in February.

Here are some of Wendi’s exclusive photos of her work on the Heroes set:

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Look at Wendi’s website and be sure to follow her on twitter.

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