Published on October 23rd, 2015 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee is an Emmy Award-winning makeup artist who is based in Vancouver. In the television industry, she’s familiar as the head of the makeup department on the popular CTV series, Motive. In film, she has also worked on films like WatchmenLife of Pi, and X-Men: The Last Stand. For aspiring makeup artists, she’s equally familiar as an instructor of the craft at New Image College.

We spoke with Rebecca Lee to get her insights into what makeup can add to creative projects and what her advice is for the makeup artists of the future in film and television.


Can you start by telling us a little bit about you and what you’re up to these days?
I’m the head of the makeup department for the CTV television show Motive. We are in our fourth season and I have been with the show since the beginning.

What inspired you to pursue a career in makeup?
I started as an apprentice in the theatre department of UBC. There I learnt that makeup could be a viable career. The creative aspect and the collaborative nature of the theatre process inspired me to pursue makeup as a job.

How does the makeup process stay the same or change between film, television, or commercial projects?
The size of the medium may change but the process of breaking down the script, designing characters and executing flawless looks remains the same.

In the context of an entertainment project (Film, TV, Commercial, etc.), what does effective makeup add to a character?
Makeup can add so much to a character and adds a dimension acting can’t do on its own. From full prosthetics to just a simple corrective makeup adds an extra element to the performance and helps to tell the story or the journey of the character. Makeup also helps to prepare an actor for their role and feel at they “look” the part.


What are the main advantages of using a professional makeup artist for a film, television or commercial project?
Film and TV makeup is not the same as everyday makeup. Many things must be taken into consideration such as cameras lighting and the story being told. A professional with training from a school such as New Image College has the experience to bring all these elements together, maintain continuity and keep the actors comfortable.

What’s a typical day like for you?
When shooting, my mornings usually start around 6:00am. We process the cast and get them ready for the day ahead based on the call sheet. That might include beauty makeup, corrective make up and a lot of special FX. Most episodes of Motive have a dead body so that keeps us pretty busy too. Then my team and I maintain that make up and keep it touched up and looking fresh all day. At the end of the shooting day we clean everyone up and help them look after their skin so it looks beautiful for the next day.

What have been some of your career highlights so far?
Winning an Emmy in 2007 for makeup in a miniseries was definitely a highlight and a very happy time. I’m also blessed to work with a wonderful teams of artists and I’m thankful for that everyday.


What would be your advice to someone who wants to pursue a career in makeup?
Education, education, education. A school like New Image College will provide a new makeup artist with the tools and the skills to succeed on set. The great thing about New Image is they also provide work experience. This is essential for the student to determine whether a film career is something they would enjoy and also provides the first steps to getting into professional unions.

What books have been influential to you throughout your journey in makeup?
Stage Makeup by Richard Corson is the first book I read and one I return to often. It’s excellent for learning the basic concepts of makeup and has great pictures and is updated often.

Where can people go to find out more about you and your latest projects?
My website is


Our thanks to Rebecca Lee for speaking with us!


Recommended Reading

Stage Makeup
Richard Corson

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

Back to Top ↑