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Northern Ireland special effects expert scoops top prize at prestigious make-up awards

By Leona O'Neill

A beauty expert from Londonderry has been crowned Ireland's top special effects make-up artist after combining her love of all things fantasy - both stunning and gory - with bringing up her autistic daughter.

Sevina Mooney (34) from the Waterside in Derry beat off competition from all over the island to scoop the top prize at the Irish Make-Up Awards 2018 in Dublin.

And sitting at home, proud as punch, was her little girl Ellaria, who's named after a character in a Games Of Thrones book.

Sevina, who is also a successful bridal and special occasion make-up artist, says she is "over the Moon" at the accolade.

"I've been a make-up artist for around 15 years, straight out of school," she said.

"I ended up working in retail and all my make-up training came from L'Oreal. I went from retail and worked my way up, working with make-up all the time."

In 2013 while pregnant she used her maternity leave to retrain and learn new skills. She attended more than 10 courses and travelled around the UK to train with world-renowned Oscar-winning make-up artists.

She explained: "I learned skills such as sculpting; running and applying prosthetics; body painting; airbrushing; illusion face-painting; tattoo camouflage make-up, and advanced mould making using mediums such as fibreglass and polyurethane plastics for the making of prosthetics for film and TV.

"Learning these new skills put my freelance work in higher and higher demand and in the year after my daughter was born I found myself cutting my time spent working for L'Oreal in half as I continued to get booked for more freelance work."

Sevina then decided to go self-employed.

"That was three years ago and ever since it's just been a whirlwind," she added.

"I've had editorials in magazines and had front covers of magazines in Italy and New York.

"And last year I got my first IMDB credit for the Tom Collins film Penance starring Gerard McSorley.

"I'm lucky enough that when independent films come to Derry I am recommended to them, so that is amazing."

She says that her biggest fan is little Ellaria.

The four-year-old isn't a bit bothered by seeing zombies, vampires and even half humans-half lizards emerging from her mum's studio.

"At the time I went self-employed I started noticing my daughter developing differently to babies her own age and found myself needing the freedom that self-employment gave me to have time to take her to her many therapies and appointments for her special needs," she explained.

"When I speak to other mums of children with additional needs they are always shocked to find out I not only work, but I successfully run my own business. My daughter and make-up are my two biggest passions in life so I always find a way to keep them in a mad, hectic balance.

"My little girl is my main priority. She starts primary one now in September.

"She doesn't use words to communicate. Special needs parent is my first job title and make-up artist is my second. She is aware of what I do.

"In her first year I had set up a make-up studio from home and she would see, especially around Halloween, people coming in looking normal and leaving as zombies and vampires. From day one it just never fazed her."

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