"Make yourself at home," says Hwang Hyun-kyu ('76, Journalism), a special make-up effects artist. Hwang's first words to us during the interview showed her heart-warming and mother-like characteristics. These personal aspects probably have something to do with her becoming a special make-up effects artist; her free and easy character as well as her challenging mind.
When asked how she had entered the world of the special make-up effects artist, she answered without hesitation, "The will to challenges and to stick to what you really like." She continued, "During my school years, I had dreamt of becoming a producer. I always wanted to make movies, as my major indicates. However, once I experienced how tough the field really was, I almost gave up. People appeared to be communicating one thing, but meaning another. You know, you feel disappointed when you get to know reality."
Hwang's claiming of "almost" giving up was mentioned again in connection with her decision to go to a graduate school in Germany. "I couldn't give up my dream, thus when I came across a new area of work which was still related to my dream, I embraced it." Since then, Hwang has studied special make-up effects.
When Hwang came back to her home country after spending time in Germany, she felt culture shock. "In Germany, the environment and nature are always important. People do not throw away garbage on the roads; they recycle." However, when Hwang came back, she felt that Korea had changed a lot, "Before I left, people were very frugal, and then, after having developed, people were not concerned about small things."
Hwang's carefulness match her profession. "Being a special make-up effects artist, I need to be alert in even the smallest things," said Hwang. Basically, Hwang and her team "Mephisto" mold an actor or an actress into different appearances according to the movie. For example, after the casting is done by the producer, Hwang receives the list of actors and actresses, and makes decisions on how appearances will be changed according to their characters. "It is up to me as to how each character is revealed on the screen. The kinds of beards, white hair, wrinkles, blood, and the wounds reflect the actors' and actresses' characters," said Hwang.
Besides the attentive and meticulous personality that suits Hwang's profession so well, her success lies in her respect towards the people she works with. "I respect the actors, actresses, and all staff members. For example, I prefer my studio to be cozy so that the actors and actresses feel at home, so I leave a separate sofa for them to rest on while they wait to get their make-up done."
When asked about the difficulties in her work place, Hwang said that there are many ups and downs during the making of a movie. "Fixing the schedule with other teams like arts and crafts, and the costumes team is very difficult. Sometimes, it is not very clear whether the work should be done by us or the costumes team. The boundary line is unfixed." Despite some conflicts, Hwang explained that no matter which work each team is in charge of, they should work with their souls.
As an Ewha alumnae, a professional make-up effects artist, a woman, a person with passion and, though single, a very mother-like personality, Hwang stressed the need of having hundred percent satisfaction in what one is planning to do for a living. "Whatever you do, it should be based on confidence. This way, one will never have regret but rather great esteem for the present."