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Catch up with Madeleine, another BAMM graduate from the Peter Swords King TV & Film Course who has had great success in the industry since graduating at BAMM.

Catch up with Madeleine, another BAMM graduate from the Peter Swords King TV & Film Course who has had great success in the industry since graduating at BAMM. She kindly took some time out this week to let us know how she is doing.

Madeleine Ellis MUA & BAMM Graduate
Madeleine Ellis MUA & BAMM Graduate

When did you decide you wanted to be a makeup artist?

I’ve always known that I belonged in the theatre but I suppose the first time I took a real interest in hair and makeup was when I saw the David McVicar’s productions of ‘The Magic Flute’ at the Opera House when I was eleven, although it didn’t actually occur to me that I could have a career in that field.

Did you have a particular field you wanted to specialise in?

I knew from day one that I wanted to work in the theatre in some capacity, but it wasn’t until I got to BAMM that I realised that I loved working with wigs.

Why did you choose BAMM?

I knew straight away that BAMM was the place for me- the atmosphere is so unbelievably warm and welcoming. I remember going to the open day a few months before I started my course and I couldn’t remember a time when I was that excited and inspired by the things I saw and heard. The tutors are truly inspiring and provide you with first-class knowledge and invaluable advice about the industry.

Did your ideas of what you wanted to do following your training change during the course?

I think BAMM opened my mind to the possibilities of my career. I knew I wanted to work in theatre, but while I was training I also fell in love with period hair and make-up for fashion, which I didn’t expect at all!

What was your favourite bit?

I don’t know if I can pick a favourite bit. I genuinely loved it all! My highlights have to include being taught by Jacqui Russon for the period and vintage hair and makeup. Not only did I develop a true passion for the module, but I also had the most wonderful support from Jacqui, even after I’d left BAMM. She’s helped me so much over the past year, and she’s absolutely the first person I turn to for advice- I owe her a lot! Another highlight had to be the fashion module because I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did!

What was your first job following your training?

I managed to land my first job while I was still at BAMM. It was for a promotional video for the Natural Theatre Company which was being made by ‘By Chance’ films which were also making BAMM’s promotional material. The director of the company saw my work while he was filming at BAMM and asked if I wanted the job.

How long after leaving BAMM did it take you to get a foot in the door?

My big foot in the door happened just under a year after leaving BAMM although I was quite lucky before this because I’d had pretty consistent Freelance work almost immediately after leaving BAMM which was lovely and allowed me to explore all areas of the industry.

How did you get your in?

Madeleine Ellis Theatre Wig Making
Madeleine Ellis Theatre Wig Making

My ‘in’ happened because of a lot of perseverance!  Knowing that I wanted to work in theatre, the first thing that I did after leaving BAMM was to make a list of every Head of Wigs in the West End; I ended up calling every stage door in London.  After this, I wrote each HOD a letter asking if they could keep my CV on file for any jobs or work experience that might come up in the hope that I might get a response. I did this every time a show closed, and a new one opened, so I had the whole of the West End covered! It was frustrating at times, but the key was to stick at it because eventually, I got an email from the Head of Wigs at ‘Strictly Ballroom the Musical’ at the Piccadilly Theatre asking me to come in for an interview and in the end, I got the job. I cried with happiness- it was honestly worth all the effort and coincidentally, my first day on the job was exactly one year to the day of my first day at BAMM.

What have you worked on since?

A Sponful of Sherman
A Sponful of Sherman

I’m still in my job at ‘Strictly’, and the show runs until the end of October, so after that, I’ll be onto another adventure! But before this job, I was lucky to have had some really lovely freelance work including several short films (one of which has just been nominated for a national award) and a feature Bollywood film with BAMM tutor Jacqui. I also worked for a company called United Theatrical on the promotional shoot for the UK Tour of ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’ which was a really lovely job and my work was used in theatres across the country which was pretty surreal!

What have been your highlights?

My first West End show has been the highlight of my career so far; it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child and it was completely magical. I have to pinch myself every day when I walk through the Stage Door! Another highlight has to be seeing my work for ‘A Spoonful of Sherman’ used on the main stage at West End Live 2018 in Trafalgar Square.

Anything you would change?

I wish employers would have more faith in people who are new in the industry. With that in mind, I have so much respect for the BAMM tutors and Peter King because they give new graduates a chance and opportunities to prove themselves in the industry. I also wish people would interview more rather than just looking at a CV!

What advise would you give to your younger self?

Be prepared for surprises because there will be plenty of them! Follow your heart and do what you love to do because, in the end, it’s your life and your career.

Whats the dream?

The dream is to keep working ideally! I love my job. I would love to end up designing one day- whether that’s for theatre or film? I don’t know. But I’m open to endless possibilities!