From Wheelchair to Makeup Chair

For several years, I wanted to pursue a career in acting. I carried on that dream for 15 years, but after running into roadblock after roadblock, I ultimately decided on makeup artistry as a career path instead. I am so glad that I did! Sometimes when things in life happen, they can often lead to better outcomes.

Finding My Passion

I partly fell into makeup because most responses I got at acting auditions were banal: "If only we were wheelchair accessible." "If only we had a ramp." "If only the character was written as a wheelchair user."

Frankly, I got sick and tired of hearing excuses and felt that choosing a different path in life might suit me better. After completing Foothill Theatre Conservatory, I realized that my passion perhaps laid not solely in theatre but in professional makeup as well. That led me to attend Cinema Makeup School where I took their prosthetics course. I decided I wanted to be a Special FX Makeup Artist since I have always had a fascination and love for the science fiction and horror genres thanks to my father. For years we spent countless nights together watching The X-Files, Star Trek, Stephen King movies, and Sasquatch TV shows. I feel that I carry on his legacy and those fond memories through my work.

The Road Less Traveled

If I'm being completely honest, I have to say that being a Makeup Artist and manual wheelchair user definitely has its difficulties. I have found that I have had to develop a thick skin when it comes to being turned down or turned away for simply being different. As with any profession where the majority are not wheelchair users, I knew I might get some pushback from others in the industry. But I didn't let that stop me, and I chose the road less traveled. Boy, what a journey it's been!

Evelyna doing special FX makeup

When I was looking into furthering my education in makeup after completing the course at Cinema Makeup School, I came across hurdles at other makeup schools. I half expected this, so I had to mentally prepare myself. One experience that sticks out for me is when I went to an open house at a very prominent school. One of the makeup instructors gave me their card and told me to call them. Of course, I was excited because I thought this would get my foot in the door! When I called, they told me I would not be accepted to their school because I would not be employable in the industry as a professional makeup artist. Wheelchair user or not, no one wants to hear that.

The industry can be strict, and sadly does not take well to those with limitations. You are expected to adapt to your client's needs, not the other way around. I appreciated the brutal honesty of the instructor, but I wasn't about to let that get the better of me like I did with acting. I knew if I wanted to actively pursue professional makeup, I would have to modify things a little bit so I could get work. I chose to pursue beauty makeup in various areas such as bridal, boudoir, runway, prom, and other special events where people were much more accepting and willing to work with me and my abilities. While I didn't enjoy beauty makeup as much as special FX makeup, it did allow me to get work and build my portfolio.

Evelyna doing beauty makeup

Loving What I Do

Finding work can have its challenges. In very recent years though, one of my biggest resources that has been huge in helping me find work is the internet and social media. Social media is now looked at as a professional tool. In fact, it was how I got some of my beauty makeup work published in a few magazines. When I started out, social media was not a tool for professionals at all. I love to share my work on several of my social media accounts, including my Facebook page where I give tips, tricks, and personal makeup reviews on different products. I am lucky to live in the day and age where I can showcase my talents online to gain more clientele and experience, and expand my talents loving what I do.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of experiencing the fun and exciting side of being a professional makeup artist. I have found that most of my clients are more than happy to sit on a shorter stool or move into position so that I can better reach them. They have been so accommodating and a joy to work with. In 2014 I was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Washington and traveled to Long Beach, California to compete for the 2015 Ms. Wheelchair America title. While competing, I made friends with all the other contestants and was able to show off my makeup artist skills by doing their makeup for the competition.

Evelyna at Ms. Wheelchair America 2015

I have also been lucky enough to meet several well-known professionals in the industry. I have met Ve Neill, Gage Hubbard, Michael Westmore, Conor McCullagh, Joel Harlow, Steve Johnson, Charles Porlier, Glenn Hetrick, and most notably, the godfather of makeup FX himself, Dick Smith. It took me many years to get to where I am today, and aside from some of the downfalls, I take great pride in the work that I do. Doing makeup can be fun, exciting, and lets me show off my artistic skills.

Evelyna with Dick Smith, the godfather of makeup FX

Taking the Long Route

My advice to readers is that sometimes you must take other, longer routes to get to the path you ultimately want. Don't ever give up on your dreams, no matter what they are. Although I talked about taking a break from acting to do makeup, I have found that I thoroughly enjoy doing voiceover work. I didn't have to give up acting just because someone else told me it could not be done. I just found another form of doing it. While I'm still not exactly where I want to be yet in my makeup career, I feel closer to my goal of being the special FX makeup artist I set out to be. Currently some of my personal goals are to have my SFX makeup published, make prosthetics, and create characters for the TV/film industry. I know it's a long, rough road, but I am willing to put my best forward to make it happen. Even in this modern world, I do still experience issues with accessibility. However, I find that people are more willing to accommodate and look past or work with certain limitations when you can prove your skills and show confidence in yourself and in your work.

So remember when you're getting ready for your prom, wedding, holiday party, upcoming New Year's Eve festivities, or your big movie role in a horror film, take the time to find a makeup artist worth your time & money, then watch them work their magic and show off their abilities!

About the Author

Evelyna Castro and Cosita-Linda

Evelyna resides in Washington state and loves to travel down to California and the rest of the country for both work and pleasure. She was born with spina bifida (myelomeningocele), but doesn't let that stop her from doing everything she puts her mind to. One of her favorite hobbies is maintaining and updating her personal blog dedicated to her late father. Evelyna is also proud of her in-home recording studio where she does the majority of her voiceover work. She loves to spend her free time working out at the gym, shooting her bow, and being with her mother & her dog, Cosita-Linda!

Evelyna Castro - Makeup Artist
Evelyna Castro - Voice Talent

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Date: 12/25/2018 12:00:00 AM

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