By JENNIFER MEIER
Small-town support. Big-time success.
For 29-year-old Goshen native Sarah Elizabeth Miller, the love and support of family and friends was one of several ingredients that helped her earn a spot on Season 3 of SyFy’s popular competition reality show “Face Off.”
The other ingredients that led to Miller’s success are hard work and one very big decision to change careers.
As a student at Goshen Middle School, Miller showed a great love for acting and art. During her four years at Bethany Christian, she took her interest to another level.
“With some senior girls graduating, I was asked to do makeup for a production,” Miller said. “I ended up doing all the makeup for all the shows.”
In addition she took every art class offered at Bethany.
After two years at Bluffton College in Ohio, Miller returned to Goshen and finished her bachelor’s degree at Goshen College with a major in art and a minor in theater.
Through publicity, costume and prop work with the New World Center for the Arts, as well as acting in one show, Miller made friends and a connection that helped earn her a position as manager of the Right Brain Project, a theater company in Chicago.
“I did costumes and props and some makeup work,” she said.
It was there that she made a decision to change career directions.
“A very good friend saw my passion for makeup and pushed for me to go to school,” Miller said. “Up until then I had been in theater pretty hard core since I was 13 years old.”
Through information from a magazine, Miller applied to Vancouver Film School (VFS) in British Columbia.
“It was a huge investment to come up here,” she said. This wasn’t just something to do only because I was interested in it and wanted a hobby. It was a career changing decision for me.”
And she loved every challenging minute of the year she spent at VFS and graduated in the top four of her class.
Since her graduation, Miller has found work in quite a few student films, as well as several independent films. Her team received the 2012 LEO Award for best makeup in a short independent film, “The Little Mermaid.” She’s currently working with director Nicholas Humphries in a short film.
“I suppose I like creature/prosthetics makeups a bit more than beauty makeups, but I like it all,” Miller said. “It’s all a different way of creating something. Beauty gives someone a different feeling than turning them into a creature, but they can both make someone feel awesome and help an actor become their character.”
The creative process, she says, is both a stress inducer and a stress reducer.
“But really it just makes me happy,” she said. “It’s a way to share the creatures in my head with people.”
Miller was well aware of SyFy’s Face Off, having closely watched Season 1.
When she was chosen to compete in the prosthetics competition at the International Makeup Artist’s Trade Show (IMATS) in New York, she made an exciting realization.
“Auditions were being held at the same time for Season 2 of Face Off,” Miller said. “I thought it couldn’t hurt to audition.”
She said she did “pretty well,” but didn’t make it on the show at that time.
When Season 3 auditions were under way, Face Off producers called her.
“I couldn’t audition at the time,” Miller said. “I was working on my first feature film.”
But the show’s producers persisted and eventually Miller auditioned and became a part of Season 3 with 11 other contestants.
The season premiere aired on Aug. 21 and the first challenge couldn’t have better suited Sarah Elizabeth.
Competitors were paired off and asked to create a Star Wars character that would fit right in to the cantina scene.
“Both my partner and I are big Syfy and Star Wars geeks,” she said. “And my friend who pushed me toward this career was a huge Star Wars fan.”
That first competition went well, and Miller is thrilled about the next “pirate” challenge, which airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
“It’s huge knowing I have the love and support of friends and family back home,” she said. “My parents are amazing.”
Miller’s parent’s Daryl and Tammie Miller are thrilled with their daughter’s success.
“It was so much fun to watch her on TV,” said Daryl. “We don’t get cable, so we had to go to a friend’s house to watch. She did an excellent job and her mother and I are just tickled pink.”
Daryl said he was impressed with the show and plans to continue watching the program after season 3 ends.
With one episode down and 10 more to go, Miller said she is having the time of her life.
“At the very least, it’s amazing,” she said. “I came into this wanting to have a good time, learn a lot and meet new people. So no matter what happens at the end of the day, I’ve got that.”