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The eighth contestant to depart Syfy’s FACE OFF bit the dust after a “disguise yourself” challenge. Sadly, Megan Areford couldn’t hide from the judges’ harsh criticism after her Plan B failed to impress. Areford’s departure also brought to a close the show’s central, non-makeup storyline of Megan + Conor.
FANGORIA: I thought it was interesting that you won a challenge for what you might call a “simple” makeup—the bride-and-groom gender switch, where if I recall correctly you only used one small prosthetic. But then you were eliminated for a simple makeup in the disguise challenge. Did that strike you as strange?
MEGAN AREFORD: No, actually. Here’s the thing—when doing these “simple” makeups, transforming someone to look like someone else, it’s easy to do on a model. You’re focused on your own job—you’re doing the makeup and you’re focused on that. Whereas doing makeup on yourself—I’ve never done that, with the whole prosthetic just for my face, and applying it to myself. I’ve put, like, cheesy Halloween stuff on myself before, but I’ve never tried to transform myself into someone else using prosthetics. It’s very difficult, because you’re looking in the mirror and you’re not seeing all the angles. And I started getting claustrophobic as well—in my own prosthetic! Then on top of that, you have the stress going through your head of having to put on a performance. Now you have to act to pass off this character. If there’s no script in front of me, I’m no good on the fly with that stuff. But when it came down to the challenge of the gender swap, that was much, much easier, because I had to just sit there and think about what we had to do, and focus on the task at hand.
FANG: I know you attended Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program. During your training there, don’t you work on yourself?
AREFORD: We have never had to put prosthetics on our faces. I’ve had other people apply them to me; there was one Halloween makeup I had which I tried to make look like the CASTLE FREAK creature—I love that movie—and I had other people apply it to my face. So I sculpted the piece, molded it, everything, and then I had someone else put it on me. We would practice here and there with bruises and stuff like that, but we wouldn’t go to the full extent of putting on a makeup like that, where we would have to trick somebody into thinking we were somebody else.
FANG: I would have thought most of you would have just started crying the minute you saw your family member and blown the whole bit.
AREFORD: Yeah, I panicked. I hadn’t seen my mom in over a year. When you’re stuck in a house for a month, and you can’t even have a pen in there, let alone cell phones, CDs, any of that stuff, you start going pretty crazy, and the only thing you’re focused on is the challenge itself. I mean, we didn’t know what was going on in the world. Sometimes we didn’t know what day it was, and a lot of times we didn’t even know what time it was. Yeah, you get lost in the moment, and to have a nice reality like a loved one come in really changes things.
FANG: Ve Neill was pretty tough on you when you got eliminated. She brought up the state of women in the industry, and how she hated sending women home. Do you think you should have gone home, and do you think Ve was justified in being as harsh as she was on you?
AREFORD: I understood where they were coming from. I found it a little unnecessary to be that harsh [laughs], seeing that I didn’t give up. That’s the thing—I didn’t give up on this challenge. I went to Plan B. That’s the only option I had. I’m never the one to just give up. I always have to find a way to make things work. I’m sad that they were as harsh as they were, but like I said at the end of this episode—I’m going to be in this industry for a very long time, and I know I will definitely run into [judges] Ve and Patrick [Tatopoulos] and Glenn [Hetrick] again. I’m very excited for the upcoming Monsterpalooza, because I’m finally getting to enter a piece that will show my capabilities. I’m excited to present it to them as well. I know at the end of the day, they had a job, and we had a job as well. And they were just doing their job. They had to judge, but they also had to be a little bit more harsher because it’s TV.
FANG: It appeared to the audience, and to at least Ve, that your mother recognized you during the challenge but felt like she should play along. Is that true?
AREFORD: No, no, my mom has always stressed to me since that episode that she never knew it was me. If anything, she’s said that she was really pissed off at me because I couldn’t work the cash register. Our loved ones were prepped before they came in that they only had 10 minutes to go into the wig shop and pick out two wigs. They had to be within this budget they’d [been given]. It was very important that they pick these wigs out for our next challenge. So there was not only the pressure of the time limit, but to find the best wigs for the challenge they thought we were going to be doing next. So it distracted them from all of us helping them. And my mom started getting really upset at me because the cash register jammed on me, and I couldn’t get it to work, and I broke a nail. And my mom was so upset because she thought she had run out of time and lost it because of me. She never knew it was me. I’m sad others think so, because she does have a big mouth, and if she had seen me she would have flipped out.
FANG: The show seemed to make something out of the fact that you chose the model Conor worked with several times.
AREFORD: [Laughs] I have to say—editing! What a wonderful tool! What a wonderful art form. Here’s the thing: Diana is gorgeous. I had her at the foundation challenge in the first episode. She has such a great sense of humor and great personality, and overall just beautiful. Her facial structure—you can transform her into anything. You can make anything work on her. She was always everybody’s first choice. On the zombie challenge I was really disappointed, because she, Conor and I had a great time. We were laughing hysterically as we were doing our zombie makeups. And they cut that all out. But they have me looking over, looking like I’m mad or something. And that’s the classic “Someone’s looking, so let’s just edit that to [make it seem] they’re looking over there.” And that was never the case.
I wanted myself to look like her because…you know, there have been times when I’ve done my makeup a certain way and people have thought I was Asian. And we had a lot of Asian models in our photos. I feared that if I did an Asian makeup, it would have looked like me, just Asian. Whereas [Diana] had very prominent cheekbones, and a very defined jaw…very strong features, something I don’t have. So that’s why I picked her. I really wanted to challenge myself.
FANG: Jo Holland was pretty blunt about her experience and feelings about you during the shooting of the show. But she also told me that since then, the two of you have laughed about what happened and how your drama was portrayed. Do you feel the same? What are your feelings about Jo?
AREFORD: Absolutely. Here’s what made me upset: On the show, Jo already came in with a few judgments about me, and we’d never even talked. Apparently she heard stuff from a friend about me, and I started getting upset with her because she wasn’t giving me a chance. I tried so hard to talk to her on the show, and she shut me off. I’m a really nice person, and I was very upset at the time. But then, starting with the fourth episode or so, I realized I needed to straighten up and stop being so angry with her, because it was throwing off the competition. I admire her. Of course they cut it out, but in the second episode her fish was my favorite. And I even stressed that. I didn’t know she used acrylic paint or whatever; I didn’t even think it mattered. I just thought it looked fantastic. I’ve always admired her passion. That’s one thing I love about Jo: her passion for doing this. And even though she’s not experienced now, she will be, because she has that passion. I’m very excited about her future. I know she’s going to do just fine. It was great to talk to her after the show and you know, really open up. I realized she reminds me of my younger sister so much. It was really funny how much she and I have in common.
FANG: You have your bangs in common!
AREFORD: [Laughs] Yes! Well, now I have them more in a defined point. When we saw each other last, she said, “OK, now I like your bangs. You look better.” And I was like, “Because they don’t look like yours!” [Laughs] So now we’re separated—now we can have our own identities.
FANG: The conflict between you and Tom Devlin—what are your thoughts on that?
AREFORD: There are just some people you don’t work well with. It’s gonna happen. Sometimes people don’t click. And he and I don’t click. It’s unfortunate, but we have completely different styles and ideas, and I respect that. It’s just that we don’t collaborate well, and you’re gonna have people like that. So there are no hard feelings about that; it’s just the fact we don’t work well together. It doesn’t mean anything personal, it’s just the way it is.
FANG: On most reality-competition shows, you hear a lot about strategy from the contestants, which typically takes a psychological form. Did you have a strategy going in—other than “Do a great job”? Did you think about playing the game at any point?
AREFORD: Like, manipulating?
FANG: For instance, when you won the gender-swap challenge, both Tom and Jo thought you would recommend they go home. When you named Tom, was that a strategic choice?
AREFORD: Everything I did was out of respect for the makeup. When it came down to the sixth episode and I had to vote the bottom off, the only two people were Tom and Jo. And it seemed like the judges really stressed it with Tom about his makeup. And I was genuinely honest, regardless of the outburst Jo may have had. That was a personal thing, and when it comes to business, you need to separate the personal from that. And I wasn’t going to hold that against her. I told the judges, “I’m strictly going off of what you said about the makeup. And it’s clear that you did not like Tom.” So I just said Tom. And I stressed that to them. That was it, honestly.
FANG: When you told Jo you forgave her—honestly, did you forgive her?
AREFORD: Yeah! No, no, I know it came off sarcastic. She wouldn’t let me speak. They cut out a big part of that. She started going off, saying stuff about my past, and I was like, “Girl, that’s completely false! Where are you getting this from?” And I realized she was so misled by the information she was given about me. And I was like, “You know what? You’re young, and you’re angry. I feel you. I understand. Because I was where you are. I still kind of am.” And I truly, truly, truly did forgive her. It was the only thing I could say to her, to get straight to the point, because I knew she wanted to get out of there. I don’t blame her. But I really, really, really did forgive her, and it wasn’t a tongue-in-cheek comment at all.
FANG: And now, on to the subject I’m sure everyone wants to hear about: the great romance! Why don’t you give me the overview of you and Conor?
AREFORD: I thought you were going to say me and Gage. [Laughs] Leaving the show, after all of this, I never realized how wonderful it is to have a private life! I think it was funny how it came off. At one point people were saying, “Oh, it’s a love triangle between Jo, Megan and Conor.” [Laughs in horror] No! No, Jo never liked Conor that way! They worked together on the third challenge and that was it. There wasn’t any love triangle. I thought that was really funny. I admire Conor for the person he is, and for the work he puts out. Between his personality and his work, I was blown away and inspired by it, and we clicked. And that’s what I was talking about—Tom and I don’t work well together, but Conor and I work wonderfully together. It was a great time having him around, and he’s a great guy. So, um…yeah. [Laughs]
FANG: How great of a guy is he?
AREFORD: He’s very funny and sweet. And very professional as well. The thing is, it came off like this big romance thing. It was very funny. He and I laughed a lot about it. But truly, it was weird, because in the house it got really separated. You had Gage and Marcel, you had Tom and Tate and Anthony. Then you had Sam and Jo until Sam had to move over into our loft. Everybody was all connected in their own ways, in different groups and whatnot. But what remained the same throughout the whole season was me and Conor. Everybody else would be hanging out, and he and I would just be talking for hours about our experiences in this industry and what have you. And it’s hard sometimes to be the outcast in the group, and for me and him…I guess you could say we were kind of like an alliance, in a weird way? We certainly had each others’ backs, and we stuck to it.
FANG: So no romance there?
AREFORD: Um… no. No. You know, we’re good friends. [Laughs]
FANG: So you’re not seeing each other since the show? You’re not dating?
AREFORD: No, I mean, I’m here in LA, he’s there in Florida. We talk very often. It’s a fun mutual friendship he and I have, and we’ll see what happens. But it’s great having him around. He’s a great inspiration, great mentor, very funny. Very funny. I wish they would have shown more of that, too. There were a lot of funny moments in the house—hysterical. And they didn’t show any of it. Which was a shame.
FANG: What do you think is, or is going to be, the biggest benefit of appearing on the show?
AREFORD: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I guess it’s what you make of it, or what you try to make of it. This is very new to me. I’ve never been on TV before, let alone a whole show. I really don’t know what the future holds. All I know is that I want to do this, I want to continue doing effects. I just want people to know my name, and know that they can rely on me. I just want to get my name out there, and I hope I did. I really don’t know.
FANG: What have you been doing since shooting the show?
AREFORD: I’ve done a couple music videos, one of them with Danko Jones. I got to work with Elijah Wood and Ralph Macchio, which was awesome, a very unique combination! I got to do a couple of independent films. Things are just picking up here—shops are picking back up. It’s mainly been independent films and music videos that I’ve been working on. And then I’ve been working on my creature for Monsterpalooza this year which, once again, I’m am so, so excited about. I love Monsterpalooza. [Laughs]
FANG: For the uninformed, what is Monsterpalooza?
AREFORD: Monsterpalooza is a convention held in Burbank, CA. It’s an amazing collection of artists all coming together, bringing their artwork with them, setting up their tables, and selling or displaying their work. It ranges from these big, elaborate creatures to busts of monsters, and all the makeup industry people go there. It’s almost like a high-school reunion. It’s so refreshing to see these guys and find out what they’re up to and what’s going on. And the fact that they’re coming around and looking at your work? And maybe even critiquing it? It’s such a great, respected convention. And a lot of fun. There are also makeup tutorial booths, and they’re going to have panels. This year McKenzie Westmore and her dad [Michael Westmore] are going to be doing a STAR TREK panel, I believe. The FACE OFF judges are all going to be there, and us [contestants]. I had an amazing time last year, and I’m very excited about this year.
FANG: Final thoughts about being on the show?
AREFORD: Going into this, I never planned on strategies and stuff like that. The only thing I was truly focused on was just trying to prove myself, and get my name out there. I’ve been working so hard to do that, networking and all that stuff. So this was a perfect opportunity for me. And I wasn’t sure if I was going to win it. I couldn’t take on all of that false hope. All I could think about was the fact that I would do my best. Honestly, I’m shocked about what I left with. I left with a bunch of friends, and inspiration. So much inspiration. And I learned a lot. In a way, I feel like a winner myself. I just can’t believe some of the artists I’ve met on that show who blew my mind and totally inspired me. It was a great experience.
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