LOS ANGELES -- Brainerd alum Cindy Williams has turned her passion for hair styling and makeup into a big-time Hollywood career.
Over the years, she's clipped the locks or applied the paint to some of the most famous faces in the motion picture and television industry, including Charlie Sheen, Uma Thurman, Matt Dillon, Johnny Depp and many others.
And now the industry has given her a little something in return, awarding the 1985 Brainerd High School graduate with a television Emmy for her makeup artistry on "The X-Files."
Williams and three of her colleagues with the long-running Fox Television series won the Emmy for Outstanding Makeup for a Series, beating out the stiff competition from "Star Trek: Voyager," "Angel" and other popular programs.
Cindy Williams, who grew up in Brainerd, applied makeup to Chris Cooper while Richard Jenkins stood by during filming of the Jim Carrey movie "Me, Myself and Irene."
Their selection -- for the "Theef" episode of "The X-Files" -- was announced at the Emmy ceremonies in Los Angeles in late August.
"We went on stage to accept the award and I had goose bumps," Williams said this week in an interview. "But I was shocked by the announcement and didn't really expect to win because 'Star Wars' does a lot of big makeup.
"But most of our makeup is better in that we build it from scratch, with many layers and steps, whereas a lot of others have prosthetics made and just glued on the actors," she said.
Reached by telephone on "The X-Files" set at Fox, Williams said the series is her first major job in television, after years of working on feature films.
Cindy Williams (right) watched as two makeup artists applied makeup to Ben Stiller during filming of "There's Something About Mary," also starring Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillon.
The daughter of John and Donna Williams of Brainerd, her career started in 1990 with the makeup crew on "Hot Shots," a motion picture starring Charlie Sheen, shortly after graduating from cosmetology school in Los Angeles.
A graduate of Central Lakes College, Williams moved to Los Angeles in 1987 where she landed a job as a nanny in the Joe and Donna Roth household. Joe Roth is former studio head at 20th Century Fox and Disney and Donna Roth is a well-established motion picture producer.
The Roths helped open doors for Williams following her cosmetology training, but the makeup artist has since developed her own opportunities, she said.
"Someone can open the door for you, but you have to be able to follow up and do the job," Williams said. "I've worked really hard to get where I am."
Cindy Williams posed with Robin Williams while working on the film "What Dreams May Come." Williams' mom, Donna, said the actor teased Williams because they shared the same last name.
Since 1990, Williams has worked on several feature films, including "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," starring Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio; "Benny and Joon," with Aidan Quinn and Mary Stuart Masterson; "There's Something About Mary," with Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller and Dillon; "Beautiful Girls," shot in Minnesota with Uma Thurman, Rosie O'Donnell and Timothy Hutton; "Forces of Nature," starring Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck; "The Haunting" with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liam Neeson; "What Dreams May Come," with Robin Williams; and many others.
One of her most recent films is "Say It Isn't So," filmed in Vancouver and starring Chris Klein, Heather Graham and Sally Field. That film will be out early next year.
She works routinely with the Roths, as well as the Farrelly Brothers, who hired Williams for the makeup staff in Jim Carrey's recent release, "Me, Myself & Irene."
"I've met lots of wonderful people and traveled to a lot of interesting places," Williams said, but declined to comment on the movie stars in her care other than to say, "Most are personable, but once in a while you get a difficult one. But I'm not going to talk out of school. It's unprofessional."
Cindy Williams (second from left) helped apply makeup while on location filming "Me, Myself and Irene."
Williams said she welcomed the Emmy award because "it will give people more confidence in what I do. It doesn't ensure anything but it gives me more credibility" as a makeup artist.
"But it felt good to get the award," she said, "because it's recognition for my hard work. I'm very excited and tremendously overjoyed."
Williams lives in Los Angeles with her husband Rob McGuigan.
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