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City limits won’t hold anyone back from doing something awesome — we have proof.
Vicki Vacca, a former Hall High School graduate, has been nominated for an Emmy award because of her work as a make-up artist in the FX Original Series “American Horror Story.”
How it all started: When asked if she ever thought she would be nominated for an Emmy at some time in her life, she answered quickly, “No, I sure didn’t.”
Vacca grew up in the Illinois Valley and attended Hall. She graduated in 1980 and then followed her passion for art and studied at Western Illinois University. After graduating from WIU, she asked herself a question that many college students ask themselves: “What am I going to do with this education?”
She held a variety of cosmetology jobs including working at the make-up counter in Lord and Taylor in Woodfield Mall, working at Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago and various beauty shops such as Charles Ifergan Salon in the Chicago suburbs.
“When you’re young, you think ‘I’m going to be an artist,’ but you have to figure out how to make a career out of it,” Vacca said.
She added that it took years and a lot of experience for her to get to where she is today.
“You have to start at the bottom and work your way up,” she said.
Vacca said make-up artists don’t go to film school, they go to cosmetology school. She said that there is more to make-up when it comes to film, and she had a lot to learn about how filming works and the importance of paying attention to detail from one scene to the next.
“You really have to learn how filmmaking works,” Vacca said. “There’s just a lot to learn. You have to do it for free or for very little (pay).”
Vacca said in the early part of her career, she worked with a very low budget of approximately $300 a week.
How she caught her break: After many years working in salons and make-up counters, a friend who was working on an independent film asked her to do the makeup.
Eventually, Vacca went on to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union Local 476 in Chicago. She decided to try her luck in Los Angeles where she was part of IATSE 706 chapter.
Three years ago, after spending some time in LA, she made the decision to move to New Orleans because it was becoming a booming area for the film industry. She has since had a lot of luck finding work.
“It seems glamorous, but there’s a lot of hurry up and wait,” Vacca said.
How about that Emmy? The 66th annual primetime Emmy awards will feature many different actors, actresses, makeup artists, hair dressers and several other categories of nominees. All nominees have been picked from prime-time television between June 2013 and May 2014. Vacca is nominated for her work in “American Horror Story: Coven” as a makeup artist.
So, who is she taking as her plus one? Her mom.
“I’m looking forward to sharing the moment with my mother.” Vacca said. “I feel really honored to have even been nominated.”
Her mom, Bonnie Vacca, also is excited about her daughter’s nomination and tagging along for the night.
“It’s just exciting to go out there and get all dressed up in a ballgown,” Bonnie said.
The Creative Arts Emmys Show that Vicki and Bonnie will attend is today at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. The Emmys will air Monday, Aug. 25 with comedian and late-night talk show host Seth Meyers hosting.