'Blood & Water' make-up artist shares her inspiration for Netflix's local hit show

Ama Qamata as Puleng Khumalo in 'Blood & Water'.
Ama Qamata as Puleng Khumalo in 'Blood & Water'.
Image: Lindsey Appolis

Sought-after make-up artist Evelyn Gambe has had a colourful career. She's worked on noted movies like Queen of Katwe starring A-lister Lupita Nyong’o, and also scooped a SA Film and Television Award for her work on the local legal drama Sokhulu and Partners.

Her latest project has been to mastermind the beauty looks for Netflix's much-hyped second African original series Blood & Water.

This new teen drama follows Puleng Khumalo (Ama Qamata), a high school student who crosses paths with Fikile Bhele (Khosi Ngema), a girl she suspects is her sister who was abducted at birth.

WATCH | The trailer for 'Blood & Water'

The series also stars a host of faces familiar to local audiences including Gail Mabalane, Natasha Thahane, Cindy Mahlangu and Xolile Tshabalala.

“After I read the Blood & Water script, I realised that the teenagers were a mix of different social classes, so I had to create a balance [in terms of beauty looks] between characters who could afford to look good and those who couldn't,” says Gambe.

She tells us more:

How did you pick the signature looks for the main characters on the show?

I gave Zama Bolton [Puleng's best friend played by Mahlangu] the Sho Madjozi look with colourful braids. Other than her being a naughty girl it’s also a beautiful look, it’s a trending look and it shows that kids today follow what’s in celebrity fashion.

If you look at Puleng, I gave her braids which she kept for a long time. She has that look because she wants to look like her friends, but she also wants to look like [the girl she suspects may be her sister] Fikile.

Ama Qamata as Puleng Khumalo (front) and Cindy Mahlangu as Zama Bolton in 'Blood & Water'.
Ama Qamata as Puleng Khumalo (front) and Cindy Mahlangu as Zama Bolton in 'Blood & Water'.
Image: Neo Baepi

Tell us more about the beauty looks you chose for the parents on the show.

Puleng’s mother, Thandeka Khumalo (Mabalane), loses her child on the show, so from that day she was not thinking of her beauty. I put her in dreadlocks because she did not have time to go to salons and put in her weave. Every time she was deep in thought she would end up rolling her hair.

On the other hand Fikile's mother, Nwabisa Bhele (Tshabalala), has money, she can afford [to go to the salon] and she knows what happened to Fikile, so I wanted [their beauty looks] to show the contrasts between them.

Natasha Thahane as Wendy Dlamini in 'Blood & Water'.
Natasha Thahane as Wendy Dlamini in 'Blood & Water'.
Image: Johnathan Ferreira

Was there a particular character whose beauty look you particularly enjoyed putting together?

I can’t say there was a specific character that I liked, but I did enjoy creating looks for the girls during their party scenes.

I also enjoyed creating the look for Wendy Dlamini [editor of the school magazine played by Thahane]. She’s the kind of character who doesn’t take any nonsense. So for her look I tried to keep her as natural as possible bringing our natural SA hairstyles [into play].

She does not wear weaves and as the show goes you will see the same thing applies to her mother because they are a family that wants to keep an African look. Even the braids she has are wool braids done with Brazilian wool. I wanted to capture the mood of the show and the background of each family.

What beauty trend should we be paying attention to right now?

Each period in history has a particular look that’s popular, but in the period we are in right now there is a wave of eyebrows.

Take an effort to do you eyebrows. Darker skinned ladies should be careful not to use dark coloured eyeliner to do their eyebrows. You don’t want to look like you have been drawn, you need to use brown eyeliner and brush it out.

Do you have any tips for our daily skincare routines?

Don’t use any skin lightening items. It’s better to take good care of your skin. Just clean it and moisturise every night before going to bed.

Any other beauty tips you'd like to share?

I know every woman wants to look good out there, but you don’t have to wear those plastic eyelashes; they don’t move and you’ll end up looking like a doll.

[Creating a stunning beauty look] also doesn’t mean you have to use expensive make-up, just use what you can afford and suits your skin tone.


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