Grace Murema is a 26-year-old special effects make-up artist, who describes herself as an artist in learning, a storyteller in grooming, and a mother of one.
She recently worked with digital photographer extraordinaire Osborne Macharia on a “Black Panther” art project.
Grace spoke to myNetwork about her trade:
1.Tell us a little bit about your journey into doing special effects. Should I say SFX? Is that the correct term? How did you end up here and where did you train?
SFX is the correct term, Special Effects Make Up in full. I started off as a glam makeup artist, but I wanted to do more. One day, I was watching Dexter, (American television crime drama series) and could not help being fascinated by how the blood special effects were achieved. I immediately started to research where I could learn this, but unfortunately, the course is not offered in Kenya. But it is in South Africa, where I went to study. SFX allows me to just go to town with my creativity. I can achieve anything my mind comes up with without any limitations. What I do is mostly not pretty or fancy at all. It is quite messy to be honest, and I love that.
2. In a past interview, you reveal that most people thought you would become an events or glam makeup artist. Why do you think people assume that women automatically want to work on eyebrows?
The special effects space is very male-dominated. Very few women are doing it because it is messy, so I don’t judge those that are surprised that I’m into this kind of stuff. The fact that I love recreating wounds does not mean I’m twisted though, or a serial killer for that matter…
3.When Osborne Macharia, (Kenyan photographer) was picked to do the Afro futuristic premiere project for Black Panther, he picked you to help with special effects. That must have been mind-blowing because this is such a revolutionary movie!
It was such an honour to work with Osborne. He’s such a creative genius, and I’m just so humbled by the whole experience. The role was not stressful at all, perharps because I teamed up with super talented artists such as Andrew Mageto, Valarie Mdeizi, Kevin Abbra, Sinitta Akello, Richard Kinyua and Corrine Muthoni.
4.Where do you want to go next?
The film sector in Kenya is slowly coming up. We are in a much better place than we were in four years ago. The SFX space is still not where it should be, considering that it is a career that you can make a living out of. This is therefore my plan A, B, C, going on to Z. I love what I do.
5. How does it make you feel when you make something look realistic enough to play with people’s emotions?
The first effect I did was a basic cut. I was so excited. I slowly started making bigger and more daring wounds. What I look forward to most is the reaction I get from people. It’s hilarious. I’ve lost a couple of followers on my social media platforms because my page is just too gory for them. That tells me that my work is actually good.
More photos of Grace’s work. Courtesy/Instagram: @grycelle_