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Face Off Finalist Melissa Ebbe Talks Favorite Challenges, the Finale and More [Exclusive] 

Face Off Finalist Melissa Ebbe Talks Favorite Challenges, the Finale and More [Exclusive]
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

I’m excited to see what the remaining Face Off contestants will do. If you read my recap of last week’s episode, you know I was upset that Mel went home. I thought she recovered so well after a few rough starts and I really loved her final makeup. But I can’t say I’m disappointed that Melissa, Walter or Rob have made it this far because I’m not. I’ve been really impressed with some of their looks and I can’t wait to see what they do for this horror-themed final challenge.

Earlier today, I had the chance to talk exclusively to Melissa Ebbe. We discussed her best looks, what she learned from her mistakes, what we can expect in the finale and more.

TV GOODNESS: I’ve really been enjoying you on this season of Face Off so far. Tell me about your favorite challenges to work on and why.

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

Melissa Ebbe: “I think my favorite challenge to work on was…well, there’s a few. [Laughs.] I had a lot of fun on the alien bursting challenge [“Foreign Bodies”] because I got to work with Mel [Licata] and she was really a pleasure to work with. I also had a great time on the cyclops challenge because that was a challenge that I’d always really wanted to try, making a cyclops and making a reptile. To do both things that I wanted to do in one challenge was pretty awesome.”

TV GOODNESS: Yeah and you won, which was even more awesome.

Melissa: “Yeah that made it even better. [Laughs.] Not gonna lie, that was pretty cool.”

TV GOODNESS: What did you learn from the challenges that didn’t go so well?

Melissa: “It was mostly about not biting off more than I can chew. Obviously, Face Off has a lot of really serious time restrictions and in particular, the Wargen that I made for the Warcraft challenge.

I made, let me think here, something like eight appliances. I made a lot of appliances that were all very complicated molds. So in retrospect, it was a terrible idea and I had a lot of trouble with my molds on that one because the mold walls I made were too thin. They kept breaking. There was a lot of things I could’ve done that would’ve made it go more smoothly that I didn’t consider in the moment that now I know better.”

TV GOODNESS: And it seems like that challenge was tough too because you knew the world so well and things just kept going wrong for you.

Melissa: “Yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment. It’s definitely a subject matter that I’m very passionate about. I’m huge into gaming and moreover, werewolves are my favorite mythological creature. So I put a lot of pressure on myself with that one and I think I just fell short. Maybe it would’ve been better if I’d had a different subject matter.”

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: Let’s talk about your wins. You’ve had 3, which is amazing. For each one, I’m wondering about your process. For “Wanted Dead or Alive,” how did you approach the challenge and what was going through your mind at the time. Did you think about what the judges might think?

Melissa: “You know, I tried not to think so much about what the judges would think. I just wanted to put forth something I thought was cool. In particular, the “Wanted Dead or Alive” challenge has a lot of the forms I use a lot in my sculpture. So, I feel like that piece in particular really reflects my aesthetic.

That being said, I did do some experimental stuff with the painting that worked really well. You don’t really see it in the episode, but the alien had these tiger stripes in the back of his head. It was a nice little thing that the judges noticed, but they didn’t really show it on TV.

It became about making things that I wanted to see and I think the judges could see that passion there.”

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: You talked a little bit about “Keep One Eye Open,” but I have to say that paint job was impressive. I saw how much work went into it, at least for the parts they showed us in the episode. How long did that actually take you?

Melissa: “I don’t remember. Everything’s a blur. [Laughs.] We had 4 hours for application and then an hour of last looks. So I pre-painted that appliance and actually had to repaint it because I tried to do something on it and it didn’t quite work out. So I repainted it during the 4 hours at the lab.

When it left the lab, was the first time I’d really taken a step back from it after I’d applied it. I realized that my paint job was too dark so I knew going into last looks I’d have to lighten it up a little bit.

It’s just a push and pull, playing with it kind of thing, which is how it would work normally but not under those circumstances. It’s just feeling it out. I tend to work very organically. I play with forms and stuff like that and see what works for me. If it does, I keep going. If it’s not working, I stop and try something else.”

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: For “Skull Island: The Reign of Kong,” I loved your makeup. It just seemed to work on every level. Those appliances you got on the face, what made you think, “Yeah. I’m gonna do this.”

Melissa: “Going into that challenge, first of all I thought it was gonna be all dinosaurs and I was very excited about that because I love dinosaurs. When I ran to the dig I saw a dinosaur and I also saw this crab guy.

For me, after getting mentally beat down with the Warcraft challenge and realizing that I’d hit a lot of trouble doing something I love, I’m like- I saw the dinosaur and I saw the crab and I’m like, ‘I shouldn’t do the dinosaur because I’m too passionate about it. I’m gonna do something that I’ve never done before.’ So I picked the crab guy. [Laughs.]

It was just something that was completely outside my comfort zone, something I had no real familiarity with and I just went with it. I think pushing myself outside of that and what I’m used to doing resulted in in a better makeup because I was pushing myself to look at things differently.”

TV GOODNESS: It really paid off. I loved that look.

Melissa: “Thank you. My model really sold it, too. That helped.”

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: It seems like everyone really got along in the lab and helped it each other, which has been so nice to see. Can you talk about that?

Melissa: “Oh absolutely. You go into these extreme circumstances and I don’t think you have any choice but to become friends. [Laughs.] That being said, I’m still very close with everyone. We went through some stuff together, so that definitely brings you together.

We did go into Face Off agreeing that we would try to help each other as much as we could with technical knowledge. So if you knew something and somebody was asking a question and you could take a moment to answer it — not sacrificing your own work, but you could answer a question — we decided that we would always try to help one another.

That’s one of the cool things about Face Off, is that there’s this expected attitude that you’re gonna be cool. [Laughs.] You’re gonna go into it wanting to help and I think that’s one of the greatest things I got out of this experience, is that I learned so much from my fellow contestants. Everybody was so free with their knowledge. Dick Smith, one of the greatest makeup artists ever, set this precedent of being helpful and open with knowledge. I think that continued through the show, which is awesome.

TV GOODNESS: It definitely came across, which was great to see. I’m wondering during the course of the season is there any piece of advice or critique that you got from Mr. Westmore or any of the judges that you think helped you as an artist or really helped you during a particular challenge?

Melissa: “Yeah, for sure. [Laughs.] I can’t think of anything specific off the top of my head.

Mr. Westmore was, and continues to be, a wealth of knowledge. For me, I was trained as an artist, like an arty artist. [Laughs.] My background’s in painting. So coming to the makeup aspect of things, I definitely fall short in terms of experience with that. I know for me personally, any time I wanted to make the most of my one-one-one with Mr. Westmore I was like, ‘Ok. How do I go about applying this?’ I’d ask him so many technical questions and he was just a wealth of information so I learned a tremendous amount from him.

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

As far as the judges, they just had so much information and experience. Even sometimes when the critiques were really hard to endure, you always just learned so much from them that it’s worth setting your ego aside to get that knowledge.”

TV GOODNESS: What are you allowed to about the finale?

Melissa: “The challenge is that each of us got an adaptation of the same horror story, a short story that’s in Jason Blum’s collected horror stories book, The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares. Each of our directors took a unique approach with that horror story and we had to help them realize their vision.

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

My director is John Wynn and he is awesome. [Laughs.] I can say it was a tremendous pleasure to work with him and you’ll see, I think, that dynamic when you watch the episode.

Basically we just have to create 2 characters in the horror genre, which is awesome because we didn’t really get to explore the horror genre so much in our season. The closest we got was the alien bursting challenge. As someone who is very interested in horror and making people uneasy, I was just so excited about this opportunity. I feel like the makeups I made, they definitely appealed to my aesthetic, they show what I can do and I think that it’s good ol’ creepy fun.

I’m excited to see what people have to say about them after the episode airs. It’s a two-part finale, so there’s a lot to see.”

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: I’ve looked at some photos from the episode and I know that Johnny Leftwich and Yvonne Cox are on your team. Can you talk about working with them and the pressure of being the team leader?

Melissa: “There’s always pressure. It’s strange because you’re being teamed up with people you were competing against and I was constantly worried that they would feel maybe cheated or that they didn’t want to do it, but that was never the case. Both Johnny and Yvonne were just very passionate about helping me achieve my vision.

They really came into it with no ego. I was worried about personality conflicts and everything like that and I had none of that, so they were just really the best team ever to work with. They were hard workers and came with a lot of great ideas and I listened to everything they had to say. They had some really great input. I can say it was a tremendous pleasure to work with both of them on the finale.”

Edited for space and content.

Part 1 of the Face Off Season 10 finale airs Wednesday, April 6th at 9/8c on Syfy. To read my exclusive Q&A with Walter Welsh, click here.

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