DENTON, Texas — If anyone sees a zombie wandering the streets in Lantana, don’t panic. That could just be Ellie Heyns’ latest creation.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reports the Guyer High School junior has been dabbling in special effects makeup for a year and a half, often startling her mother, Michelle, when she comes down the stairs with pins seemingly woven through her lips or roses emerging from a wound on her head.

“It’s a fun thing to do and you can pull lots of pranks with it,” said Heyns, pouring some fake blood in a deep gash she created on her younger brother Ethan’s forearm. The boy squirms impatiently as his sister adds shades of black to the already yellowed cotton balls she rolled up to make it look like a golf-ball sized piece of flesh was missing from her model’s arm.

“I find it interesting to take something and change how it looks,” she said.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant, Heyns now sees the opportunity to transform her hobby into a career.

She was one of 15 students selected out of 300 applicants for the Texas Young Masters Class of 2018. The program, put together by the Texas Cultural Trust and Texas Commission on the Arts, gives grants every two years to teenage dancers, actors, musicians and visual artists who want to improve their craft through technical workshops or classes.

Alumni of the program have participated in the Julliard dance program, toured in national productions and taken up an artist residency in Paris.

Heyns is the first young master from the Denton area since the program started in 2002. She’s also the first to be selected for special effects makeup.

“I’m still in shock,” Heyns said. “I’m not really sure why the judges picked me, but I’d like to think it’s because this is unique.”

Based on the comments on her application, the judges did see something in Heyns’ portfolio.

“Bold application — and remarkable,” one judge penned.

“Knows what she wants to do and where to go to do it,” another scrawled. “Work is strong, impressive, and creative.”

Creativity has always been part of Heyns’ personality, though. When she was little, she would draw fashion sketches and make her own costumes. But the fascination with horror makeup didn’t come quite so naturally.

“She used to be a scaredy-cat,” Michelle Heyns said. “I wouldn’t let her watch horror movies because she would get nightmares.”

“I wasn’t allowed to watch PG-13 movies until I was actually 13,” Heyns added.

“It’s funny how it all comes back around,” Michelle said with a laugh.

Once Heyns conquered her childhood fears, she joined a technical theater program to channel her love of costumes. One day in 2016 while she was scrolling through Instagram, she saw someone practicing special effects makeup in a video. Intrigued, she went to the nearest Halloween store and bought some supplies.

“I just tried it out and it became a passion,” she said.

Now that she’s found her passion, she’ll attend a special effects summer camp in Canada to refine her skills and master the use of prosthetics. Then, she plans to head to Hollywood to work as a makeup artist in the film and television industry. Her dream jobs include working on the set of “Criminal Minds” or “Star Trek.”

It seems Heyns is taking her cue from Spock himself: live long and prosper. With any luck, her future will include as many Vulcan ears as his.

Information from: Denton Record-Chronicle,

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Denton Record Chronicle

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