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'Face Off' exit Q&A: 'I felt very trapped'

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Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

Following last week’s kid-inspired challenge, this week’s episode of Face Off had another family-friendly theme, with contestants competing to see who could execute the best makeup look for a character pulled from the pages of Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s nighttime read, Sleep Book.

The judges — joined by Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer — awarded top honors to Nicole Chilelli, who you’ll remember earned re-entry to the competition last week. It was good news for Chilelli (and speaking of good news, this week brought word that Face Off has been renewed for a fourth season) but not for Alana Schiro — the inability to settle on a clear concept for her Seussian creature proved to be Schiro’s downfall.

EW caught up with Schiro to talk about her frustrating final episode, memorable moments from the show that audiences never saw, and the makeup creations she’s made since her elimination.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you have such a difficult time creating your Seuss creature?
ALANA SCHIRO: Honestly, from the second I got my character, I knew I was doomed. I am an artist who really believes in working with an actor’s face, and when I got that character, I knew it was totally against everything I believe as a makeup artist. It was a mask. I felt very trapped. I just really didn’t know what to do. When I [found out what] that character [looks like], I really was dumbfounded. I was like, “Oh my gosh, how is this even [part of the challenge]? It should be a CG character. No one would do a makeup that looks like this.”

Plus, my nerves were still really worked up about Rod [Maxwell's elimination]. At that point in the competition, I was a little lost about what the judges were looking for because, like I said, I really believe in doing makeup, not masks. I love making masks, but I thought it was a makeup show, and on the previous challenge, the makeup that had won was a mask. So I was just really confused as to what the judges would be looking for. I got stuck with this character that required me to make a mask, and I couldn’t let myself do that, so I just tried to bring my own aesthetic to it… and failed.

How did the elimination of your roommates Rod and Jason affect you?
I think that’s a curse in Face Off, or any reality competition series. You need someone to confide in, you need a friend, and when Rod left, it just broke my heart. When I always imagined Face Off, when I dreamed about it, I always pictured me and Rod holding hands at the end, spotlight on us, one of us about to win. He’s someone who I look up to as an artist. I knew him before the series, not for very long, but he’s been quite a mentor to me and a very good friend. I learned a lot from him. I loved his style, and to be on the show with him and for him to be kind of ripped for [his work], that just really broke my heart.

What has it been like to watch the show as it airs?
I think I needed Face Off to believe I could do Face Off. I just never believed I could do it, and now, after watching the show and stepping back and seeing myself, I’m like, “You have so much potential. Why are you always doubting yourself?” I think that’s so valuable for me. This has been kind of like a home video experience, looking back and seeing how much I’ve grown in a short amount of time.

Right after your elimination, Ve Neill told you to keep in touch with her. Have you reached out to her?
I haven’t seen her since the episode. She was so sweet to me and incredibly kind, and for her to say that to me seriously was a hundred grand in my heart at that moment. That’s my hero reaching out to me, and that felt better than any amount of [prize] money. And I really hope in the future that I have the opportunity to work with Ve, but just to have her compliment my work — woah. If I work up the courage, I will absolutely reach out to her myself.

Which of your Face Off makeup looks were you most proud of?
I would have to say the pirates challenge because that crab girl – seriously, I have never done that much work single-handedly. I’ve been a makeup assistant for the majority of my career. I’m a Bondo girl. So to have achieved that makeup in the first single challenge, even with the help of my cast members guiding my nerves into a happy direction and helping me with my molds, it was just such a moment of achievement. After seeing that [pirate] makeup on the stage, it kind of calmed me down a little bit, got me to believe in myself and say, “OK girl, just keep your head up.”

Do you have any favorite moments from the show that didn’t make it into the final cut?
There’s so many things that I wish they would have shown. Just how grateful I was to work with Roy [in the episode "Supermobile"]. I felt like in that episode where we won, it was kind of edited to make it seem like I had done all the work and I was taking credit for everything. But working with Roy was one of the best experiences of being on the show because he’s so kind, and so is Nicole. I got the opportunity to work with Nicole too [in the premiere]. With Roy, after that first night [of the "Supermobile" challenge], I was a mess. I’d started sculpting something I didn’t believe in. I can’t put something on the stage I don’t believe in, and he just said to me, “Alana, what do you want to see? That’s what you need to do. Find the monster within that you want to create tomorrow.” He was so calm with me and so nurturing. I went to bed that night and I literally dreamed about that character. And I went to the shop the next day, and I sculpted and molded and got that piece out in three hours. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that without Roy. So when I watched the episode, I was really disappointed with the way it was edited, because it made it seem like I was taking all the credit. I would not have [done] that makeup without Roy’s encouragement.

Tommy Pietch said one of his favorite moments was when you and Jason grabbed your blankets and acted like a Chinese dragon.
Oh my God, I don’t know how they haven’t made a webisode about that! It was hysterical. I have an exceptionally adorable Chinese dragon face, so I would be the front of the dragon, and Jason and I would come downstairs, jumping up and down. He was throwing me on his back and picking me up and we’d be this standing dragon with the blanket around us. It was so fun. I think they got it on camera.

What kind of work are you doing now?
Well, after Face Off, a lot of things changed in my life. [Season 2 contestant] Ian [Cromer] and I broke up, and that was kind of hard to deal with. Now we’re really on better terms, and we’re collaborating together at long last. We work really well together, and I’m excited to see what we can make together. I’ve been working as a foam fabricator, which is interesting because that was a skill I didn’t really have so much when I was on the show. You know how all these other reality TV shows are having all-stars [seasons]? If we have all-stars, I’m gonna come back and make robots! I really hope I could have an opportunity to display [one of the] new skills that I have acquired since the show.

I’ve also been doing demos at conventions where I’ve been doing my own makeup and character designs, collaborating with my friends on the day-of application, which is a lot of fun. Also, I have a line of little hats and flowers that I’m selling to local galleries, and I’m setting up an online store within the month called Rotten Roses. I make these little monster flowers that have little monsters crawling out of them. I make them out of faux flowers. I do foam fabricate some of the larger ones, but for the most part, I use vinyl and silk flowers and hand paint them. Each one is totally different and unique, and they’re selling, so it’s cool since it’s something I love to do. It’s grown on me. It’s just a happy little hobby I have.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

Read more:
‘Face Off’ exit interview: Rod Maxwell
‘Face Off’ exit interview: Nicole Chilelli
Gallery: Special makeup effects designer on how to create a ‘Grimm’ monster — EXCLUSIVE

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