Glow Up NZ Season One winner Richard Symons. Image supplied.
After six exciting weeks of competition, Makeup artist Richard Symons from Auckland was crowned the winner of the first season of Glow Up NZ which is streaming now on TVNZ OnDemand. Richard beat top three finalists Nika Steele and Kyle De Thier (runner-up) to take out the prize with their creative looks in the final challenges.
Winning MUA Richard consistently impressed the judges with their technical abilities and imagination which saw them beat Kyle in a final challenge where they each created a glamorous themed look in just 45 minutes. The judges were thrilled with Richard’s glittery final look which secured their win and Richard enthused upon winning, “I feel like I did everything I possibly could to achieve this moment. I’m really proud of myself.”
Glow Up NZ is all about celebrating the power of transformation and the amazing looks created throughout the season showcased the incredible talent of this group of New Zealand makeup artists. This season has also shown how much heart and passion goes into each artist’s work and for a show about aesthetics it definitely has substance too. Celebrating each MUA’s different journey was a key part of the show and as a queer, non-binary person Richard was delighted to claim the win for themselves and their rainbow community.
We caught up with Richard to find out how they’re feeling about winning Glow Up NZ, what their favourite look to create was and what’s next for them?
Congratulations, what was it like to win Glow Up NZ and what does it mean to you?
Thank you! It’s pretty surreal to be the winner of Glow Up NZ! I’ve never won anything before so to be recognized for something I’m so deeply passionate about is amazing.
What has it been like watching yourself on the show and have you been recognised in public at all?
I used to do YouTube back in the day so watching myself isn’t exactly new to me but watching myself struggle certainly was, at the same time it was also quite freeing not having any control over what people would see in the final show. I haven’t really been recognised out in public but the occasional person would pop in to work and tell me how much they were loving the show.
How would you describe your Glow Up NZ experience in five words?
Hectic, emotional, harrowing, fulfilling and successful (haha).
What was your favourite look that you designed on the show and why?
My favourite look would have to be the piece I did for the “ugly beautiful” brief. I love a good character study and being able to bring my vision to life was so satisfying, those images are the ones I consistently look back on and say “Wow, I did that”.
Richard creating a makeup look on a model in the final episode of Glow Up NZ Season One.
Which brief did you find the hardest and why?
Without a doubt, lip art. Not only do I have small little caucasian lips I also really struggle with doing fine detail work on myself. I can never get the mirror close enough while still being able to see, being in the red chair that episode was not a huge shock to me.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could do the show again?
The only things I really “regret” doing were the looks for the lip art and pride briefs I really should have played a little more to my strengths as an artist rather than try and do something I knew I would struggle with.
Which other MUA/s did you bond with on the show?
Oh my gosh, well we all became really close friends both during and after filming (like talk every day on Insta close) but specifically me and Nika really bonded. I would literally die for her.
What was the judging process like for you and how did you handle the pressure?
I think it was a little different for me because I have had my work critiqued a lot in the past so I had learnt not to let anything negative get to me. But it was really hard watching the other contestants respond emotionally to the judging.
What was your favourite moment from the filming of the show?
After filming the episode where we found out the top 4 we all went and got pizza with our chaperone and basically just sat in a hot tub for 3 hours and just had the most relaxing time of the whole production. I really cherish that evening.
What is your advice for anyone who wants to be on Glow Up NZ in future?
Be prepared, ask questions, don’t let people walk all over you and practice doing the face off challenges! If you can nail a face off you can potentially take the whole competition.
What’s next for you?
I’ve got some really exciting stuff happening that’s both makeup related and not makeup related. What I’m really excited to do is travel, especially around New Zealand.