Stephanie Masco is Second Academy Student to Compete and Bring Art to Life on Syfy's Face Off Show


Stephanie Masco with her spotlight challenge winning make-up created with partner Kelly Harris.


Whether it was playing with sculpting clay as a child or applying the finishing touches on a zombie at a haunted prison attraction, Stephanie Masco has always had a knack for art. Now, Stephanie, an illustration major graduating fall 2015, has quickly vaulted to the national spotlight by competing on the Syfy channel’s reality-based competition, Face Off.2008 American Academy of Art graduate, J. Anthony Kosar, won season four.


Stephanie is one of 15 contestants vying for both the title of Hollywood’s next best special effects makeup artist and a grand prize that includes $100,000 and a 2015 Fiat 500. In each Face Off episode, artists are given a set amount of time during three days to conceptualize and create a character or creature to fit a given theme. Each week / episode, judges Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill and Neville Page name a challenge winner and send one contestant home.


For the Plainfield, Ill. native, pursuing art and getting an education from the Academy was a no-brainer.


“Art just seemed like the natural choice,” Stephanie said. “I never even considered anything else, because I’ve never felt as strongly about anything else.”


But it wasn’t until watching a behind-the-scenes “Making the Monsters” clip from the horror film “Silent Hill” that she got involved in the world of special effects makeup. For the past five years, Stephanie has developed her special effects repertoire by working as an in-house makeup artist and actor at various haunted attractions. It was this kind of work that led Stephanie to competing on Face Off.


In 2012, she met a producer from Face Off, Seon Park,at a haunted attractions trade show. After staying in touch with her for nearly two years, Stephanie was invited to come to Los Angeles in July 2014 as a season-eight competing cast member. Although she took off the fall semester to free up her time for filming the show, she stated the experience was well worth it.


Stephanie’s favorite creation on the show was also the piece with which she won a foundation challenge on Episode 6, entitled “Sounding Off.” Contestants were given a foundation challenge where teams of two had to create a character based entirely off of short soundscapes. After hearing a ticking clock and whirring gears, Stephanie and challenge partner Kelly Harris came up with the story of a clockmaker who recreates his deceased wife as a wind-up doll.


“It just fell together perfectly; we were so invested in this character we created and the story we developed around her,” Stephanie explained. “She just exploded on stage, and that’s a really great feeling.” Stephanie even finished early and made an additional photo prop that the judges loved – which she stated contributed to the win.


During that challenge, Stephanie received expert and welcomed advice from season-four winner, J. Anthony Kosar, who coaches contestants on this “Return-of-the-Champions”-themed season.


As for her success on the show, Stephanie credits her background as a haunted attraction artist for helping her with time management on Face Off. In a typical evening, she was responsible for completing the makeup for 25 actors in just a few hours.


She also thanks her formal Academy education for many of her skills – explaining that learning to quickly prepare thumbnail sketches was great preparation for Face Off.  


In the future, Stephanie hopes to work on more special effects projects in a spacious studio of her own – one with an “unlimited supply of effects makeup – like in the show,” she said with a laugh.


Stephanie speaks from personal experience when she shares words of wisdom for those looking to pursue special effects work: “Do it because you love it and are really passionate about it.”


Follow Stephanie’s journey through the competition!:




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