Interview With Wonder Woman's Makeup Guru, Sarah Brock: A Real Life Superhero Among Us
Sarah walks us through her path from home studio to movie set, and how one photo from the past changed everything.
by Victoria Oldridge
Sarah Brock bio: Makeup artist (MUA) to Gal Gadot and Anne Hathaway, Sarah's work has graced 24 covers of Condé Nast BRIDES Magazine, and she has been quoted in British VOGUE as a 'go-to award winning makeup artist'. She has worked with prominent fashion photographers including Dudi Hasson, Hugh Arnold, Nato Welton and Nicole Nodland to name a few.
Variety recently posted their 2021 Oscar predictions for makeup, listing Sarah for her work on Wonder Woman 1984 – stay tuned for the awards on April 25th.
Truffld: You left school at age 16, worked in a variety of professions -- from a newspaper, to fitness, and then into sales management for a makeup brand, and with Vogue House London -- all while persevering in your parallel passion as a MUA for bridal events; all roles that combined, have differentiated your skill sets. What’s your advice for budding MUAs who want to set themselves apart in today’s competitive arena?
Sarah: The industry is very different to how it was when I started my career -- social media means that people can share their work easily and network online. However, applying makeup to yourself and just sharing that online is not enough; to perfect your craft, you need to have your hands on as many different faces as possible! Also, because social media is ‘instant’ I believe that some people expect success to be instant and this is still not the case. I worked for years for free just to be able to assist and gain experience in applying makeup and also worked very hard building a network of contacts. My advice is to take any work you can whilst starting even if unpaid, as the experience is essential in learning your craft.
Truffld: When Patty Jenkins (producer) spontaneously reached out to you in 2015 during pre-production for Wonder Woman, it was after coming across a bridal photo -- for which you were the MUA -- in Condé Nast Brides from 2008 that caught her attention. Talk about life’s stepping stones coming full circle! Where do you think or hope your current work (both as a MUA on top-tier movie sets as well as private work for high-profile actresses) might take you another seven years from now?
Sarah: I get asked this question a lot and sometimes my answer surprises people - throughout my whole career, I never had a plan or thought about the future -- I guess as I have gotten older, I’ve come to understand that things in life and work can change in an instant! However, what I have always done is to make sure that every single job I have done is completed to perfection and the best of my ability. I work so hard and never stop in my drive to make sure any job I do is perfect. I could never have guessed that I would be doing the job I am now seven years ago! Nothing in my career was planned, I just worked hard, made sure that I was a kind and genuine person to the people I worked with, never stopped learning and always stayed humble. Everything else just came to me after that. All I know is that I love my job, love working and hope to still be in this industry working with the people that I love and respect.
Truffld: You and your husband have been married for thirty years, both of you staggering your careers at different times while you’ve raised two children, one of whom is autistic. At times, your work on movie sets can take you far away from your family for 6-8 months at a time. In what ways have you been able to maintain and reinforce your familial relationships during these times?
Sarah: Luckily, until I worked in the movie industry, my work was mainly London-based and I would travel in and out of London for the day; the most I would stay away was for a few nights on a campaign shoot, which was easy. It was a huge change for me and my family when I started working on movies and was away from them, especially as we don't have family nearby so we share the care of my son between us. However, this is the same challenge that all of the people in the industry face (and many other industries), and it's hard! I think because my husband and I were older when this [movie opportunity] happened, we were both mature enough to talk about the possibility and we agreed that it was a great way of being able to earn money for our autistic son and his future care. There’s no doubt about it -- you have to work as a team and have to regularly remind yourselves in the difficult times the reason why you are doing it. The one benefit is that although there are times when you are away for long periods, you are then lucky to have months at home after that.
Truffld: You’ve mentioned in prior interviews that you were ‘more scared than you’ve ever been’ when you worked on the first Wonder Woman as you hadn’t set foot on a movie set before. You adapted quickly, in part due to your previous experience working in fast-paced environments, but you also carry a strong sense of grit, will, and stellar work ethic, enabling you to build confidence toward last year’s Wonder Woman 1984 and a number of other film projects. Do any other professional pursuits intimidate you, or do you feel equipped to conquer anything now?
Sarah: To be honest, the main reason I was scared on the first movie, was because it was the unknown. Since then, I’ve done nothing but study, learn, improve and make sure that it isn’t unknown to me any more and I can truly say after all of the projects since then, that I truly feel that I belong and can work and be successful in the movie industry. I never stop learning though, even before I moved from fashion into the movie arena. I truly believe the second you think you know it all… game over! I love a challenge and because of the challenges I faced in my life -- (both personal and professional) -- nothing fazes me.
Truffld: Whether you’re working with Gal Gadot, Anne Hathaway, or the everyday woman, how do you approach each new, blank canvas?
Sarah: When I’m working in movies, before I even work with the actress, it’s about researching the script/project/story of the film and knowing what is required. Research is key. However, with any woman who sits in my chair, all I have ever wanted to do in the entirety of my 20-year career is to look at their face and just make them look the most naturally beautiful that they can be. It’s not about a mask of makeup for me, it’s about looking at every feature on their face (including bone structure) and making her look and feel confident and beautiful. That’s what I love about my job -- I get to make women look and feel amazing; it's the best job in the world.
Truffld: If there are a few key elements that all women can focus on in their makeup regimen that will make the most impact in putting their best face forward, what would you recommend?
Sarah: The most important part of any makeup is the skin. Look after your skin and don’t apply heavy foundations. You can save money on color products (eyes, cheeks, lips) but the one area that's worth investing in is the foundation and concealer. Get that right and everything else will look great. Get it wrong and it doesn’t matter what else you put on top; it’s never going to look as good.
Truffld: What are your sources of inspiration -- the elements that fuel your creativity and stimulate fresh ideas for your craft?
Sarah: I am inspired by colors and textures that are all around us outside and in our homes, but most of all I'm inspired by women – not just their physical features but also their resilience and life experiences. That’s always inspired me to make every woman in my chair look and feel just beautiful and special.
Follow Sarah on IG, Facebook, and on Sarah Brock.