Some time ago, when a talented special effects make-up artist Priscilla Munzhedzi Mabirimisa’s story first made an appearance in a local newspaper, her parents’ home was inundated with villagers who had come to show their sympathy to the family.
They saw frightening images in the newspaper: a man stabbing a woman, fresh blood splashing everywhere – and they deduced that Priscilla had been stabbed and was now hospitalised.
“I got a call from my Mom, she was freaking when she informed me that she had just got news that I had been stabbed and that I was in the newspaper. I tried to explain to her that the images were my artistic work and that I was safe where I was at the time. But she couldn’t easily understand because, while the story appeared on a local newspaper in Limpopo, I was then based in Gauteng and Mpumalanga, away from home.”
However, she finally got her mom and the fellow villagers who all loved her to understand that the images were only a work of a special effects make-up artist. This artist was her.
“It is something that I do for a living, but back at home they didn’t know it, because at first I was mainly focusing on the kind of make-up therapy which one could get at any salon in the township or town.”
It is not surprising: it is hard to connect the young and beautiful Priscilla with these gory images of violence that she creates with her make-up. “I bring to life what most people normally see in movies and television. Most film-makers use special effect make-up to create wounds and skin rashes. I excel in all that.”
There are other aspects to her work too. “Sometimes I just do special effects to highlight social issues of women abuse and children abuse. And there are other times when I am given assignments by film makers who need my services from the onset. It feels good to be doing what I love most and find fulfilment in that.”
In her amazing work collection of images, you see violent men stabbing a woman, an image created in Priscilla’s bid to highlight and address issues of women abuse. In another one there’s a gaping wound underfoot, which shows a critical condition.
As a small girl growing in the stony Tshirolwe village, Limpopo, Priscilla had not dreamed that she would find herself having a career in special effect make-up. She attended Tshirolwe Primary School, Gondo Likhethwa Christian School and completed her Grade 12 at Progress Comprehensive School in 2013.
“In 2014 I went to Face to Face College in North West to study towards a course as a beauty specialist and beauty therapist. While many candidates had registered for face beat, I chose to have a special focus on special effect make-up.”
The course was quite difficult and challenging in a positive way. “In our class, we were seven, four whites and three blacks. At the end of the day, I managed to have a two year diploma and international certificate in beauty therapy. I do not only do special effect make-up, I can give beauty therapy to a whole busload of ladies and young girls.”
She is currently studying towards a management assistance qualification. She sees herself as still young and in need of collecting as many qualifications to create more work opportunities for herself. Therefore, she urges fellow youths to pursue their dreams.
“When you need to succeed and survive, take risks. For example, I am not back to school because of fun or whiling time away. I am doing it for my future and I am confident that I will make it.”