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'Winning an Emmy was surreal ... I was surrounded by celebrities'

Make-up artist Pamela Smyth (51) is best known for her work on Game of Thrones - for which she received an Emmy - and The Fall. She lives in Belfast with her husband Mark and their children, Lex (14) and Myles (12). She says:

I left school as soon as I turned 16 with one O-level. I knew I wanted to find something I was passionate about and start earning money, but I didn't know what that was yet.

I didn't like school at all. I went to a Orangefield Secondary School and my parents, Sandy and Lorna, didn't give me any kind of push for education. They didn't mind that I left school at 16 with just one qualification.

They realised I was independent and it wasn't for me at all. Education and school to me was something that was enforced, but didn't really mean anything. I spent my time sitting in the middle of the class trying to be invisible.

My mother always instilled in us that it is a big world out there and we should not be restricted by doing some wee job around the corner. She always told my sister Valerie and I that if you love what you do, it won't feel like a job.

I've always enjoyed learning but I didn't enjoy the enforced regime of formal education. I'm still studying and I've never read a novel, but I read voraciously - books that I can learn from. For me, self-motivation was and is key. If you're not self-motivated then I would say stay at school until you know what you want to do.

I got my biology O-level simply because the exam fell before my 16th birthday and I also really liked the teacher, Mrs Tweedy. She was brilliant and paid attention to anything I would ask her.

After leaving school I began learning how to become a make-up artist. At this time I was offered a job as a receptionist at Belvoir Park Hospital.

I had to tell my dad that I was turning down a full-time job so that I could take a TV commercial opportunity which would provide me with three days of work - he wasn't pleased.

Around the same time I had started doing hair modelling. I sat down in a chair and let incredibly creative people do whatever they wanted with my hair. I would do my own make-up for the photos or the show and do my friend's too.

Pamela Smyth working on Game of Thrones

I really enjoyed the creative side of that, but I didn't really think of it as a future. It was just an art form that I liked to do. But people kept asking me for it and eventually I realised that I could make a living out of it so I started studying intensely and I still am to this day.

Winning an Emmy was surreal. To be honest I was just thrilled to be invited and to enjoy all the hype and excitement and be surrounded by celebrities. I am useless because I wouldn't even think to use my phone to take photographs.

I am just a working class girl from east Belfast and was modelling since I was about 15 and always doing hair and make-up.

My children are very different, the younger one will probably go down the academic route, but my older one has already started making his own films. I can't see him staying at school and going down the traditional path."

Belfast Telegraph

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