Graduate Spotlight: Natalia Caronna

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We recently had the chance to snag recent Los Angeles campus graduate, Natalia Caronna and chat about her life before MUD, at MUD and after MUD. From an infatuation with make-up at an early age to an insanely successful recent month in her career, we follow Natalia on her journey as an aspiring make-up artist.

MUD: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from? What did you want to be when you grew up? What led you to MUD?
Natalia: I’m from Palm Springs, CA — born and raised. I grew up competing in dance (started dancing when I was 3 and I started competing when I was 8 and stopped when I was 18) and I was always in a full face of make-up. I always loved make-up and was sad when it was time to take it off. I was fascinated by it. When it came time to choose my major in college, I chose film. I knew that I wanted to pursue any job within TV/Film. Make-up didn’t reveal itself to me until after I graduated college when I started working as a PA at a big reality show production company. I was working insane hours for next to no money and hating life. One day, as I was helping the make-up artist on a Lifetime shoot set up her station, I paused and observed her. She was overjoyed doing her job. She had such a light about her. At the end of the shoot, I asked her what I needed to do to pursue make-up professionally. She told me that if I was at all interested/passionate about this field, I should check out MUD Make-up Designory and get started ASAP. And I did…I was enrolled in the master program about a month later.

MUD: What are you doing now? 
Natalia: Now I’m freelancing and living in Hollywood! I’ve had an insanely successful month — I’m still reeling! I’ve had very steady work ever since graduating MUD, thankfully — mostly department heading short films and low budget gigs. However, in December, I shot my first commercial with Moet Chandon champagne! Then, two weeks ago I worked on a huge summer blockbuster sci-fi film. Additionally, a few days after that, I worked on a commercial for ESPN, and the following week I worked on a Comedy Central show produced by Happy Madison Productions (Adam Sandler’s production company)! I’ve been busier than ever and loving every second of it.

Natalia along with the rest of the make-up, hair and wardrobe team with Charlie Sheen.

MUD: What did you do RIGHT after you left MUD?
Natalia: Right after MUD, I started working on low budget gigs. I also started working at Frends and networked my tush off!

MUD: What do you remember most vividly about your time at MUD?
Natalia: There’s so much to remember…the most overwhelming memory that floods my brain every time I go back and visit are the smells! The smell of foam latex coming from the lab, the smell of hallway, and the hum of the hairdryers! I remember the early mornings and always feeling welcome at MUD. I was always greeted with sleepy smiles and hugs from my classmates.

MUD: Do you/will you stay in touch with the friends you made at MUD? Why do you think that is important in your line of work?
Natalia: I have definitely stayed in touch with a handful of my classmates from MUD! It’s imperative to keep those connections going long after graduation. You never know who is going to make it big and ask you to come along for the ride.

MUD: Tell me about your best day at MUD!
Natalia: It was the day of the gelatin prosthetic test and it was also my birthday! I was 80% confident going into the test but there was still that 20% looming over my head. I completed the test and looked around at everyone’s work. I wasn’t sure how I would do when it came time to grading. The highest test grade of the day would also win a massive eyeshadow palette that I obviously wanted desperately for my kit! The pressure was on. The grades were in. The class waited in silence for the name to be read. I got the highest grade! I was ecstatic, I remember feeling so validated.


Natalia with one of her creations at Scare LA.

MUD: What are some lessons you learned at MUD that you think will be most beneficial in the real world?
Natalia: Speak up! Freelancers get jobs by being fearless and outspoken. Give out your card. Talk to the producer/director even though it’s scary. Say yes to everything. Don’t ever think you’re above any gig. Assist everyone. Be kind, fast, and efficient. Make friends with as many people as you can on set and stay in touch with them. Know your place on a set and be respectful.

Natalia with the rest of the make-up, hair and wardrobe team with Nick Swardson and Simon Rex at Sony Studios.

MUD: Would you have done anything about your time at MUD differently?
Natalia: I definitely would have gone to more of the speakers at MUD. GO TO ALL OF THEM. Network!!!!

MUD: Do you have any words of encouragement for those considering applying to MUD?
Natalia: If make-up is something that you’re truly passionate about, go for it all the way. Yes, it is a scary career path at times, but I promise you, everything in life worth pursuing is going to scare you to death. Be OK with that feeling, let it motivate you. The second you stop getting butterflies in your stomach over your career, is when you’ve stopped caring. I get nervous before EVERY gig, even though I know I’ve been well trained and have nothing to worry about.


Amazing work by Natalia in this ode to a Game of Thrones scene for a client.

MUD: Lastly, what advice to you have for today’s MUD students?
Natalia: TAKE LOTS OF NOTES IN CLASS. Don’t miss classes. Ever. Practice, practice, practice. Even when you think you have that bald cap application nailed, do it 20 more times. Commit every technique to muscle memory so that when you step on a set you don’t have to think twice about what you’re doing. Your body will automatically do it for you. Don’t get frustrated when something doesn’t come as naturally as you thought it would. Don’t give up on it, just channel all of that frustrated energy into motivating energy. You. Can. Do. Those. Fingerwaves. And that perfect winged liner. And those seamless prosthetic edges. Get in there and make it happen. Your time at MUD will fly by much faster than you think. Take it all in. Make friends and WORK HARD.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Natalia! We wish you continued success for many, many, many years to come!

To follow Natalia’s journey or to learn more about her work, please check out:
Natalia’s Site 
Natalia’s Instagram

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