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Former Yarmouth resident Burton LeBlanc talks about his Creative Arts Emmy Awards nomination experience

Former Yarmouth, N.S. resident Burton LeBlanc was nominated for a 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Award for his work as Department Head Makeup Artist with The Handmaid’s Tale.
Former Yarmouth, N.S. resident Burton LeBlanc was nominated for a 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Award for his work as Department Head Makeup Artist with The Handmaid’s Tale. - Contributed

YARMOUTH, N.S. – Standing on the red carpet as an Emmy nominee at the 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards earlier this month in Los Angeles, some of Burton LeBlanc’s thoughts were still on his hometown of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Former Yarmouth resident Burton LeBlanc. CONTRIBUTED
Former Yarmouth resident Burton LeBlanc. CONTRIBUTED

Nominated for his makeup work on The Handmaid’s Tale and interviewed on the red carpet about his career and starting out, the former Yarmouth resident thought back not only to some of his early TV and film projects, but he spoke about the art classes his mom and dad – Mel and Eva LeBlanc of Brooklyn, Yarmouth County – had put him in when he was growing up Yarmouth.

Decades ago local Yarmouth artists and sisters Trudy and Paula Garson – now both deceased – would never have known one day LeBlanc would be on an Emmy carpet (then again, maybe they did). LeBlanc still credits them for helping him discover his artistic talent.

“It’s really resonated, it’s really sticking with me,” he says. “It helped me start on the path – definitely mom and dad putting me in those art classes. I think I already was artistic, but it opened up and pulled things out of me that I already had.”

This past summer LeBlanc gave a talk at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s western branch in Yarmouth when the Garson sisters and their legacy were being celebrated. He says it was “very meaningful” to take part in that.

“I always believe in giving back if someone is important in your life, whether it’s family, friends or mentors. It’s really important to put it out there and give back and recognize them and what they’ve done for you,” he says. “Anybody who’s successful, they didn't get there completely on their own. There’s always been people that helped them along the way, and they were those people.”

In July, LeBlanc landed his first Creative Arts Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (non-prosthetic) for his work as Department Head Makeup Artist with The Handmaid’s Tale. Nominated with him were series makeup artists Talia Reingold and Erika Caceres.

The trio was nominated in a category against makeup artists from Game of Thrones, Glow, This Is Us, Vikings and Westworld. The Emmy went to the makeup artists from Westworld but, as the saying goes, it is indeed an honour to be nominated.

Asked if he had a good vibe he may be nominated, or if it took him by surprise, LeBlanc says it was a bit of both.

“I did really want it and I remember telling the two women in my department, my team, this is what we’re working towards,” he says. “You have a good vibe about the show, but you never know, because even the short list, before it got down to the final six for the nomination, it was 150 shows for makeup.”

And that was just the short list. There were hundreds of other shows up for consideration before that.

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LeBlanc says it felt amazing to be nominated.

“It’s almost like everything comes to a head – all of the long hours, all the hard work . . . I was looking at my name and said am I really seeing this? Even when you see it, it’s still hard to believe in that moment. And then I got a text from Elisabeth Moss (the lead actress who plays the role of Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale) and she was like, ‘Congratulations,’ so I knew that it was real. That was my confirmation.”

LeBlanc’s makeup work with the series varies depending on the character and the scene.

“I really have always liked the kind of destressed-look makeup. It holds true for certain characters, like Offred’s character or the aunt in the show. Certain characters in the show you’re not supposed to know that they’re wearing makeup,” he says. “But somebody like the Commander who has been through a bomb blast, his is a bit more dramatic – the cuts and bruising on his face.”

YOU CAN ALSO READ A 2017 INTERVIEW OUR NEWSROOM DID WITH BURTON LEBLANC ABOUT HIS WORK WITH THE HANDMAID'S TALE BY CLICKING HERE

LeBlanc has a lengthy resumé when it comes to his makeup work with some past titles including The Incredible Hulk (2008), Dawn of the Dead (2004), 16 Blocks (2006), Resident Evil Afterlife (2010), American Gothic (2016), 12 Monkeys (2015) and Warehouse 13 (2012-2014), Cinderella Man (2005) and the list continues.

This year he and his colleagues were also nominated for the Makeup and Hair Stylist Guild Awards for The Handmaid’s Tale, which was an award LeBlanc won in 2003 for his work on My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

The 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards held in Los Angeles in early September. CONTRIBUTED
The 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards held in Los Angeles in early September. CONTRIBUTED

At the Emmy Awards LeBlanc says it was exciting to be on the red carpet (which was massive, he says) and to see all of the people.

“Lots of famous actors and actresses were there, but it was also really great meeting the head makeup people from the top shows,” he says. A reception at the Roosevelt, the awards show itself and the Governor’s Ball afterwards were also highlights. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards events were earlier in September, ahead of the main Emmy Awards that took place Sept. 17.

Asked for his biggest takeaway from his whole Emmy experience, LeBlanc says, “Just always knowing that hard work and believing in yourself pays off, I think is the main thing. It sounds so basic, but I think that's really it.”

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