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'Face Off': Nicole Chilelli on what she could have done to save herself from elimination

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Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

In a blaze of pirates, Chinese dragons, Wonderland zombies and Star Wars cantina-worthy aliens, four contestants have been eliminated so far this season on Syfy’s reality competition series Face Off.

Eliminated on Tuesday’s episode was Nicole Chilelli, whose evil Alice with a botched paint job in the Alice in Zombieland challenge led to her dismissal. With Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson guesting at the judges’ table, Chilelli found herself up for elimination after her airbrush broke during the application phrase. EW caught up with Chilelli to find out if she agreed with the judges’ decision, what she learned from the competition, and why this won’t be the last time we see her on the show.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was going through your head when you found out you were eliminated?
NICOLE CHILELLI: It was overwhelmingly sad. [I was] just trying to keep my composure on national television. To be on Face Off was a huge step for me and something that I had really, really wanted. Just getting there was the recognition that I am a good artist. It took a long time for me to realize that I have talent.

I feel like my makeup [in this episode] was not what I wanted it to be. I was trying to find the right color tones. It looked OK before I left for last looks, and everything that could have gone wrong for me went wrong. My airbrush broke. I had stuff to distress the clothing, and that clogged as well. It was just not in the cards for me that night. I’m sure there were a billion things I could have done to fix it, but when you’ve got an hour left and your mind’s racing, and things are breaking, you start kind of panicking. Your brain’s not working [the way] you want it to under that amount of pressure. Usually, I work well under pressure, but it just seemed like everything went wrong for me. I made some risky choices, design-wise, and I made some bad choices color-wise. All around, it just wasn’t going to work out.

Judge Glenn Hetrick said that there were several things you could have done to save your look. Have you thought about what you could have done to save yourself?
Oh yeah, I absolutely know what I should have done. The paint on the face got really dark. I wouldn’t at all have put any blood on the top part of the head, cause that was mainly supposed to be just skin and boils, and the paint got way too dark, and it looked bad, so I thought maybe blood would make it look cool, and it didn’t. Yeah, there’s a billion things that I know I would have changed, and I’m actually thinking about re-doing this makeup, because I’m a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland.

When your airbrush broke, what weren’t you able to do?
Especially for the show, you select whatever colors that you want to paint your model with, and most of the colors I mixed myself were in bottles. Once the airbrush stopped working, I didn’t have those colors that I had chosen anymore. So I had to go to alcohol-based palettes that you have to brush it on, and you don’t get the same effect with those as you would get with the airbrush. I normally paint a lot of the stuff I do by hand, but when you have an hour and you’re trying to do so much work, the airbrush is useful.

The makeup and costume work you and Rod did last week for the Chinese dragon challenge was amazing, were you proud of that project?
I was the most proud of the headdress that I made. There was this image of a Chinese warrior at the temple that we used, and I was just totally drawn to that. It had this awesome headdress with these poles that stuck up and these flags. I was really trying to capture the part of the dance, because they told us, ‘This is going to be a makeup challenge, but it’s going to be in an acrobatic type of dance.’ I wanted to enhance that dance factor, and I wanted to see things flowy and moving.

Who was the most intimidating judge on the show?
I don’t know if anyone was really intimidating. It’s always scary to go up in front of the judges, but I never looked at it like a bad thing. I looked at it like this is really a gift that we get to be able to have people of their stature looking at our work and giving us feedback and letting us know what we did wrong or what we did well.

What’s one specific thing you learned from one of the judges that you’ll apply to your future work?
Glenn gave great feedback. He definitely has a lot of passion for what we do. On the Chinese dragon challenge, he gave us a tip about the harsh edge on the forehead of our face prosthetic. The whole face needed to match up with the cowl, which the back of the head. He said instead of trying to blend that edge, maybe make it a harsh line so you absolutely know it’s gonna fit every time. And that totally made so much sense.

What’s your favorite off-camera moment from the show?
The pirate challenge. That whole day was pirate jokes all day long, everywhere we went we were trying to come up with new pirate jokes. We were actually doing the same thing on the zombie one. Instead of saying, “Arrrr,” we were saying, “Ughhhh.” We all got along so well at the house and at the shop and everywhere we were. I think one of my other favorite moments was all of the cast members sitting on the back porch at the house overlooking the entire city, talking shop and bouncing ideas off of each other. I think that was probably the best time, just sitting there with the view and my cast mates.

Is it true that you’ll be back for the live finale on Halloween?
Yeah, the whole cast will come back for the Halloween episode. I think it’s going to be really fun to hang out with all of them again. We all keep in contact, we have each other’s numbers and we talk on Facebook. But everyone’s really excited to actually see each other again. We’re a very tight cast, that’s for sure.

What makeup-related projects are you working on now?
I’m doing a runway show for [art showcase] RAW: natural born artists. [Face Off cast mates] Tommy and Alana are probably going to come out this weekend and help me apply some stuff because I have six makeup looks to do. Six full head-to-toe creatures are going to walk on a runway. I’m making an entire suit of armor and all kinds of stuff. I’m also working on a couple of films. I’m doing a horror film called Akuma right now that’s in the middle of filming. And then I’m gonna be doing makeup for the History Channel. It’s a show about the Book of Revelations. I have a lot on my plate right now, but I like being busy, always creating things.

Read more:
‘Face Off’: McKenzie Westmore, host of the Syfy monster makeup show, talks season 3
‘Hot Set’: Host Ben Mankiewicz on Syfy’s new behind-the-scenes reality competition
Accessorized to kill: Swavorski’s ‘James Bond’ jewelry collections

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