From doing her friends’ makeup to collaborating with Disney, former Chester resident Elle Favorule turned her makeup hobby into a full-fledged career. Since moving to Los Angeles, she has worked on several major TV shows and films, and this year she won an Emmy Award.
Favorule has been interested in makeup since she was ten years old, gaining experience as her friends’ designated makeup artist.
“I was always doing my friends for prom and any night we would hang out or go out, even before I dropped out of college. I was always the one doing everybody’s makeup for everything,” Favorule said.
After graduating from Chester Academy, Favorule attended the University of Buffalo, where she majored in communications.
“I honestly didn’t know I could do it as a job. But I had a friend call me up and tell me she was dropping out of college to pursue being an actress. And I was like ‘wait, I think I can go do makeup!” Favorule recalled.
Leaving college for film sets via makeup school
At 19, she dropped out of college, moved to Los Angeles, and enrolled in makeup school, where she learned the ropes during her six-month intensive. From there, she worked her way up the industry, starting with student films and, as she expanded her network, bigger projects.
“I stepped on my first student film set, where I was like, ‘Oh, this is where I want to be.’ I slowly made connections with people, and your network gets bigger and bigger. You work on a student film and that turns into a short film, and then that short film connection turns into a well-budgeted indie movie. And then the indie movie circuit becomes bigger and bigger. You work on better projects with bigger producers and bigger actors,” she said.
Many of her beginning jobs paid little or nothing, so she needed to have multiple gigs at once. Then, about a year or so into it, her makeup kit was stolen, a moment that made her question if this was the right career for her.
“I remember calling my dad at four in the morning and I was like ‘oh my god, what am I going to do?’ And my dad was like ‘well, we’ll figure it out tomorrow. You can get on a plane and we’ll figure it out.’ Hearing him say, ‘alright, you can come back here and we’ll work it out and find something,’ I was like ‘oh no, I’m going to have to figure this out. I’m going to have to have to make this work,’” she said. “Since then, there was never a question of what I was going to do.”
Aside from beard work, one of Favorule’s biggest challenges is the schedule.
“A project I was just on, we worked six days a week, and I was working 90 to 95 hours a week. It’s mentally, physically, and emotionally draining because you’re surrounded by 200 people every day, five, sometimes six days a week. And it doesn’t leave much room for life or sleep or anything like that,” she said.
But she thrives on building relationships with actors and helping them bring out their characters and stories through makeup design.
“There’s a storytelling that I don’t think a lot of people realize happens with makeup, because a lot of times it’s so subtle that it’s not something people recognize. It’s just this natural flow as the camera moves and the actor does their thing. A lot people don’t notice ‘oh they put a little shadowing under her eyes’ and she looks more tired in this scene than the last one,’” Favorule said.
Of the 70 plus shows and movies she worked on, her favorites include “The Staircase,” a crime show she poured “heart and soul” into, and “Party Down,” a sitcom, where she worked with several comedic actors. One of her most challenging projects this year was “The Iron Claw,” an upcoming film that required extensive research, as it spans multiple time periods.
“It’s a period piece so you really have to know your stuff...let’s say there was a day with 200 backgrounds (people). You had to check every single one to make sure that they were period appropriate. You can’t have somebody going on camera with a look that’s very 2020s,” Favorule said.
Stepping on stage for an Emmy
Favorule never imagined she would win an Emmy, but on September 22, during the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, she and her teams were nominated for their makeup design on two Disney+ projects: the 2021 Halloween special “Muppets Haunted Mansion” and the 2022 fantasy competition, “The Quest.” She won an Emmy for the latter, and as the team’s department head, she gave a speech on behalf of them.
“Our category came up and I, to be honest, fully blacked out. I just remember hearing ‘The Quest’, and I just jumped up screaming. I was sitting with the Muppets crew, so we thought the Muppets was going to win. When they called ‘Quest,’ I didn’t it coming,” she said.
“One of my makeup artists who was on the team with me, I had texted her and said ‘if we win, I need you to come stand next to me on that stage. I cannot be delivering this speech without you’...she was right there by my side, which was so exciting. I remember bits and pieces of giving the speech. Then I just remember at the end all of us hugging and running backstage and just losing our minds because we couldn’t believe that happened.”
Moving forward, Favorule hopes to continue expanding her network and work on bigger and “cooler” projects. While she has no particular company in mind, she would definitely like to collaborate with Apple TV+ and Hulu.
“I want to keep working and maintain relationships with all these amazing actors I’ve worked with, and if I win another trophy or two along the way, that would be fantastic,” she said. “Whatever the universe throws my way, I’m happy to take.”
There’s a storytelling that I don’t think a lot of people realize happens with makeup, because a lot of times it’s so subtle that it’s not something people recognize. - Elle Favorule