Talented student takes 3rd place in national competition

The College

Talented student takes 3rd place in national competition


A talented Theatrical, Special Effects, Hair and Media Make-up student beat off stiff competition to take 3rd place in a national competition.

Charlie Gray entered the body paint WorldSkills contest and impressed judges with her Cirque Du Soleil inspired entry. We caught up with the Level 3 student to find out more.

How did you find out about the competition and what did you have to do to enter?

“At the start of the course, my tutors informed us that later in the year, a few students would be chosen and put forward to enter a ‘big competition’.  I didn’t think much about it at the time as I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to be chosen. Further down the line, I started looking  at previous students’ entries and felt inspired to apply.

“Towards the end of my course, I put together a selection of photos showing off my ability and handed in my prep books to show my creative flair. I was over the moon when my tutors decided to put me forward! Then came the hard part, I was told the theme was ‘Cirque Du Solei’. I had only two weeks to design my entry, do the body paint, create a mood board, describe my look, and send in the photos. This was called the ‘passive stage’ which assessed your ability for a place in the competition.  My first attempt at the full body paint took 7 hours and I was exhausted. After submitting my entry, I received an email congratulating me on gaining a place in the first heat of the WorldSkills competition. I was ecstatic!”

Tell us more about your entry for the heat that took place in Worcester?

“It was definitely a huge challenge! The passive stage was right before my end of year exam and the heat was straight after, so I had to split my days between college work and WorkSkills, which proved stressful at times.

“Before the heat, I made a large circus themed headpiece and a circus tent style bustle skirt that created a wow factor and really embraced the Cirque Du Solei theme. We were only allowed 10 per cent of the body to be covered in costume, and it had to be completely made by ourselves.

“My entry design focused on the different elements of Cirque Du Solei, I wanted to bring colours and fun into the look. I used inspiration from a previous Cirque show to come up with a green lizard head section and by using a prosthetic reptile nose, brow features and pointed ears , adding an unusual feel to my entry. I then blended down into a lion section, creating a roaring lion’s mouth on the breast and chest of the model, surrounded by leaves. My final section was the ‘tent, created by stripes on the model’s legs.

” It was a nerve racking experience, with the judges walking around you and examining your work but it was worth it in the end!.”

How did it feel to become 3rd in such a huge competition?

“I was in complete shock. I remember walking into the room, setting up , having a quick glance at my competitors and thinking  they were out of this world, with massive props and amazing costumes, I really didn’t think I stood a chance!

“When we finally had the awards ceremony, I was sat with my model who was about to take all of the prosthetic pieces off, when my name got called out, announced as 3rd place.I was really overwhelmed and to this day I am still in shock that I managed to do so well against such fierce competition. I am also very grateful to my tutors for coming and supporting me.”

Have you always had an interest in body paint? If so, how did this come about?

“I have always been interested in anything creative and have a passion for face painting and SFX makeup. During high school, I went over to my friend’s house and created an animated character face with false eyes using makeup, and from that moment, I was in love with the creative effect it had. I experimented more and felt inspired to develop my body painting skills. I regularly paint for Halloween and other events and hope to compete in many more competitions in the future.”

What are your ambitions for the future?

“In September, I will be going to university to study Special Effects Makeup Artistry in Manchester for two years, I am then hoping to do a top up degree at a different university such as London or Bournemouth to gain my full 3 year qualification and have the opportunity to study in different places.

“Leeds City College gave me the push I needed to really challenge myself to learn new skills and figuring out what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. My tutors Emma and Estelle have been amazing and I’m so grateful I got the chance to learn from such talented people, who know how to bring the best out in their students.

“I would like to be able to let my career take me around the world. Working in the film and TV industry in different locations and getting to see the world whilst doing something I love would be amazing.”