In most industries, publicizing your work is the first step to success. But for screen makeup artist Doniella Davy, who is known as Donni for short, the goal was for her hand to remain hidden.
“You know your job is good if it’s invisible,” Davy said over the phone. “(The makeup) should exist beautifully within the story and add to it in a way that you don’t even realize it’s there.”
Sharp-eyed moviegoers may recognize moments of Davy’s work in recent Oscar-winning films, such as the slick radiance of Trevante Rhodes’ skin in the coming-of-age story “Moonlight,” or KiKi’s perfectly flushed cheeks. Layne in the romantic and emotional film. “If Beale Street could talk.” But it was her participation in the complex HBO teen drama “Euphoria,” starring Zendaya alongside then-newcomers Hunter Schafer, Alexa Demie, and Barbie Ferreira, that catapulted Davy to beauty industry fame for her. prominent appearance that was far from subtle.
Radiant skin was a defining feature of the “Moonlight” makeup treatment. Credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
When the show debuted in the summer of 2019, the mesmerizing makeup from the first season captured the attention of Gen Z viewers in particular. Looks quickly spread across social media: winged eyeliner with iridescent gemstones, eyes surrounded by neon orange kohl, and hand-painted ivory white eyeshadow in the shape of miniature clouds.
Hunter Shafer plays Jules in “Euphoria,” one of the show’s most expressive characters in terms of on-screen makeup. Credit: Courtesy of HBO
Few on-screen makeup artists have reached the level of notoriety that Davy has in his short career. On television and movies, unless the stories specify, makeup is rarely daring and instead often goes unnoticed, according to Davy.
“We all secretly long for that recognition, for people to know and understand the amount of work, planning, thinking and diligence that it really takes,” Davy said. “So it has been something really unexpected and very special that my work in film and television is recognized.”
The dim, colorful lighting often used in “Euphoria” was a big consideration for Davy. In these scenes, he gravitated toward products with shiny, reflective finishes such as glitter or jewelry. Credit: Courtesy of HBO
‘There is definitely pressure to make cool looks’
Fear does not feature prominently in Davy’s vocabulary. Not long after graduating from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with a photography degree, Davy took a leap of faith and enrolled in a crash course in film makeup. She created her portfolio by answering ads on Craigslists, helping with student films, and low-budget projects.
“I had no anxiety about it,” he said. “It was an instinctive decision.”
But at the same time, Davy can’t help but feel a bit intimidated as season two approaches. “It’s a bit scary, because I know that people expect something.”
The iridescent face stickers used on Shafer in season one inspired Davy’s first foray into commercial makeup. Credit: Courtesy of HBO
Is it a matter of worrying about the fall of the second album? “There’s definitely pressure to do great looks … But there’s also the question of, well, how do I keep the conversation going with makeup?” Davy asked. “Because it doesn’t feel good to go louder, more neon, more chunky gold or more rhinestones. That’s not necessarily the right direction.”
As with many teen dramas, teen characters face great emotional risks, from substance abuse and sex work to drug raids and clashes with the police. And it’s critical, Davy insists, that makeup follows the fault lines of each character’s often fragmented journey.
“It’s a more grown-up ‘Euphoria,'” Davy said of season two. “It’s been a long time. Everyone has grown a bit. We’re picking up in the same place, but the world has changed a bit. The ‘Euphoria’ world, just like our world has too.”
Makeup was instrumental in demonstrating the story arc of Kat, played by Barbie Ferreira, in the first season. Credit: Courtesy of HBO
Despite having to shut up, Davy says makeup responds accordingly by turning toward minimalism. “I feel like I’m continually drawn to the modern minimalism of the 1960s,” he said. “It’s really different.”
But loose time frames, quick sketches, and abstract concepts are just as important as planning when it comes to Davy’s process, as he doesn’t get scripts for the entire season, instead working non-chronologically episode by episode. Therefore, he relies on the cast members’ intimate knowledge of who they are playing, as he cannot predict the arcs of his characters.
“It’s always a super collaborative process where it’s a conversation,” he explained. “I’ll say, ‘So in the scene before this, your character left the party and was crying. And this is where I feel like she is now. And this is the makeup I have in mind. How do you feel about Do you think your character would still be wearing eyeliner at this point? Or does that feel ridiculous? ‘”
The gemstone eyeliner worn by Alexa Demie, who plays Maddie, was a viral sensation when the first season aired. Credit: Courtesy of HBO
“I don’t think there is going back for me right now,” he laughed. “It is as if the beast has been unleashed.”