By Anna Jauhola
Taylor Schulte isn’t afraid to be herself and she credits her family with giving her that opportunity.
Taylor, who grew up in and graduated from Wahpeton, N.D., often visits Hallock to see her parents, Tim and Jacquie Schulte.
“I have a very alternative style, very much not North Dakota or Minnesota,” she said in an interview last week while she was visiting her parents in Hallock. “But luckily, I had parents who let me be me. They let me have a pink halo underneath my hair in high school. They always encouraged my artistic side.”
Taylor has molded and shaped her artistic side dramatically in the last several years as she has climbed her way through schooling and hard work in the movie makeup industry.
Her hard work at Josef’s School of Hair Design, where she started her education in the beauty industry, and her passion for turning people into otherworldly beings at Legacy Effects Studio in Los Angeles has definitely paid off.
Her most recent work can be seen in the hit movie “Captain Marvel,” which is currently playing in theaters. She worked on the Skrull and Torfin character makeup appliances, which are latex or foam pieces to costumes and masks. Some of these are made from casts of the actors’ features.
“I was one of the two lead casters on that project,” she said.
Legacy Effects Studio is one of the largest in L.A., she said, and is known for working on makeups for the Marvel movies. The studio, which was originally known as Stan Winston Studios, did all the “Jurassic Park” movies and original “Terminator” movies. In fact, Taylor has worked on the new “Terminator” movie scheduled to come out later this year.
She’s met a ton of people, most importantly many makeup artistry professionals she’s admired for many years, including Rick Baker, who won the first Oscar for makeup artistry in 1982 for “An American Werewolf in London.” She’s also met Joel Harlow, a Grand Forks, N.D., native who made it big as Johnny Depp’s personal makeup artist.
“You see so many people,” she said. “A friend of mine goes to a coffee shop that Adam Levine (Maroon 5) goes to all the time. We plan to just go there and stay the whole day sometime just to see him.”
Taylor’s work currently keeps her off set of major productions, such as “Aquaman.” She was with Fractured Effects at the time “Aquaman” was made and was part of the five-person team that created Jason Momoa’s gold suit from foam. Although she didn’t get to meet Momoa, her inside perspective is more impressive. In the movie, there are evil trench creatures.
“Most people think that’s CG (computer generated),” Taylor said. “But that’s a practical suit. It’s a 6-foot tall actor on 2-foot stilts as well. They have a mohawk fish-spikey thing. I was part of the team that made those suits. We made 20 to 30 of them.”
Her team also made the silicone makeup appliances for the fish people in “Aquaman.”
Taylor’s original path was not heading toward the Hollywood Sci-Fi industry, however. After teaching at Josef’s School of Hair Design in Grand Forks for three years, Taylor wanted to expand her abilities and chose to attend a seven-month master program at the Make-up Designory School in New York City.
During her time there, she took a makeup prosthetics class at the urging of her mother.
“I said you may as well do it because you’ll have to know how to do makeup on (prosthetics),” said Jacquie. “So you may as well understand how it works and everything. Oddly enough, she fell in love with it and ended up being really good at it.”
After graduating and some time back in the Midwest, Taylor made the bold move of heading out to L.A., with much encouragement and support from her parents and sister, Toree. Within her first six months, she entered an international contest called Battle of the Brushes. She sent in six photos of her best prosthetic makeup work and was one of eight contestants selected worldwide to attend the Sydney, Australia competition. She was working at Fracture Effects Studio at the time and they allowed her to practice after hours using the makeup rooms.
“Senior artists critiqued my work and I practiced six to eight times, three-hour makeups,” she said.
Her hard work paid off, once again. Each contestant went in blind. They received random amounts of material to work with and a three-hour time limit. Taylor chose a male model and created a yellow-skinned, funky-looking space character to accompany the “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” theme. She won the contest, an experience she called surreal.
“My carry-on on my way home was my giant check,” she laughed. “It was $3,000 Australian, which is about $2,200 in U.S. dollars. It paid for my trip.”
After the recognition she received from Battle of the Brushes, which included being in Makeup Artist Magazine, her good fortune continued in L.A. and she has set high expectations for herself. First and foremost, she’s working her way toward enough hours to join a makeup artists union. This step will take her from behind the scenes in a studio to working onset.
“My goal is to become a union artist, representing shops like Legacy onset for movies like ‘Captain Marvel,’” she said. “Now, I’m kind of on the team in the background. I’d like to be more so in the foreground. But that does take time.”
She knows many view Millennials as entitled, but Taylor said she has worked hard to be where she’s at.
“I know I need to work for what I get, but I also think you have to take a chance on me to know I’m able to work hard. I’ve been fortunate and people have given me a chance.”
As Taylor moves forward in her career, she definitely has not forgotten her roots in small-town North Dakota and Minnesota. She said it was scary to take a jump into her dream, but her parents and sister, Toree, have been her greatest supporters. For everyone out there, especially kids still in high school who are looking post-graduation, she has a bit of advice.
“Whether it’s the jocks or the theater person, remember that high school isn’t where it ends,” she said. “Just know who you are in high school isn’t going to define who you’re going to be. It’s OK to fail, just as long as you learn from that and grow. If I did it, I think anyone can do it.”
By Anna Jauhola