By Katie Chambers
Welcome to NYWIFT, hair & makeup artist Alfreda Howard!
New NYWIFT member Alfreda “Fre” Howard grew up in Michigan and now resides in Philadelphia, PA. Howard has been Makeup Department Head for Netflix’s Free Meek, Season 13 of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and national commercials including a Smartwater spot with Pete Davidson. She was also Key Makeup Artists on season one of Bel-Air on Peacock, and designed wigs and makeup for The Fisher Center at Bard – SummerScape’s production of Dom Juan. Other credits include Wu-Tang: An American Saga (Hulu) and Lady in the Lake (Apple TV).
In 2019, she became the first woman of color to design makeup and wigs for operas at two teaching institutions: The Curtis Institute of Music Opera Department and Temple University’s Opera Department. Howard is very involved educating students and professionals on the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and agency in the arts, and teaches at both Opera Philadelphia and The New School. And she serves on the Board of Directors of NYWIFT sister organization Philadelphia Women in Film & Television.
Howard is the proud owner of Faces By Fre, LLC, Makeup Artistry that provides makeup, hair, wigs, special FX, and wardrobe and employs four artists. Outside of work, she loves experiencing other cultures, food, learning, traveling, and listening all types of music… and making her own bourbon.
Fre Howard spoke to us about special effects makeup, advocacy & education, and how the pandemic shaped her career.
Tell us about yourself – give us your elevator pitch!
My name is Fre! I am a professional makeup artist and stand in solidarity with three IATSE unions, 798, 799, and 917. And I’m the owner of Faces By Fre, LLC, a full-service makeup artistry business that specializes in serving television, film, theatre, and opera.
What has been your favorite project to date?
You’ve done quite a bit of special effects makeup in addition to “traditional” makeup. What is creatively exciting about working on those horror / sci-fi / or violent scenes?
For me, knowing the body: how bruises, cuts, and abrasions form on the body in certain areas or how blood flows from a simulated knife or gunshot wound is amazing!
The ability to create a wound that is realistic and believable to the audience is my joy!
How has the pandemic impacted your work as a makeup artist?
The pandemic was a curse and a blessing. I lost all work for one full year, two major contracts and five employees… but I was able to slow down, take stock in me, my business, and our industry. I designed a program to teach professionals on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and participated as a panelist speaking on the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as on BIPOC skin and hair care in the arts.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I am worthy of receiving all I dream of!
In addition to now being a NYWIFT member, you’re also a member of PWIFT (Philadelphia Women in Film & Television) and on their board. What have you enjoyed about the experience of leading a WIFT organization?
Meeting potential members — women who want to network, make their films and be around other women in the industry — is an honor, and a position I am grateful for and take seriously.
What inspired you to join NYWIFT?
I work in New York more than Philly… [laughs] And I have attend a few events in New York with NYWIFT. I love the energy and welcoming spirit NYWIFT promotes.
And what is next for you?
I am the Makeup Department Head for two films, Assistant Supervisor for Othello for Opera Philadelphia, and wig and makeup designer for The New School’s production of Fefu and Her Friends… and to win an Emmy and Oscar!
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