Makeup designer, Donald Mowat is one of a select group of film industry professionals: in constant demand for his skills; respected by colleagues, actors, directors and producers alike for the creativity and passion that he brings to his craft; and warmly admired for his active contribution to the support and development of new talent.
Born in Montreal, Canada, to British parents, Donald started his career while still in high school, working with amateur operatic societies and the children’s theatre company, Les Créations des Enfants. Early work included the creation of memorable character makeup for the Quebec Drama Festival award winning play ‘Memoirs of Johnny Daze’, as well as assisting on numerous film and television productions.
1987 saw his first credit as Head of Department: ‘Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future’ for which Donald gained a nomination for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup.
Recognition followed in 1989 with admission to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, as well as IATSE local 798, New York, and, in 1990, IATSE 873, Toronto.
In 1992, Donald won his first major award, a Prime Time Emmy: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for ‘Enchantment – Mark Twain and Me’. He also won a CableACE award for the same production. A further award followed in 1998 – the Special Gemini Award for Achievement in Makeup for the CBC production ‘The Sleep Room’.
Donald was admitted to the Hollywood IATSE local 706 Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild in the same year and in 1999 was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; he has served on the Makeup branch executive committee for many years.
The new millennium brought Hollywood Makeup Artists Guild nominations for ‘Three Kings’, ’8 Mile’ and ‘The Human Stain’, and in 2006 he won a Gemini Award, Achievement in Makeup, for ‘Prairie Giant – The Tommy Douglas Story’. In 2014, as Head of Department on Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners’, Donald won the Hollywood Makeup Artists Guild award for Best Contemporary Make-up and the Saturn award for Best Make-up.
Donald has been an exemplary leader in the film community, serving two terms on the board of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television and successfully lobbying the Academy to recognise makeup artists with the annual Canadian Screen Award.
In 2011, he was re-elected to the board of the Actor’s Fund of Canada, an essential lifeline for those in the performing arts suffering from severe health or financial problems, where his committed contribution across the spectrum of its vital work was a major factor in the fund receiving a special Gemini Award, in 2011, for continued service to the television community.
Donald’s career increasingly enjoys an international reputation. Both as Head of Department and Personal Makeup Artist at the highest level, he has been privileged to work on some of the best cinematic productions of recent years. He is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and was recently awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Donald continues to work with the BAFTA LA membership committee and, more recently, an outreach program at Washington Prep High School in Los Angeles.