Ex-Shropshire student wins make-up stardom on BBC show

A fashion graduate who studied at a Shropshire college has become Britain's next make-up star after winning the second season of BBC show Glow Up.

Ophelia Liu
Ophelia Liu

Battling it out against nine other aspiring makeup artists, Ophelia Liu secured the champion title in the BBC Three make-up competition.

The 26-year-old, who studied fine art at Acton Burnell-based Concord College, takes home the prize of a professional contract assisting some of the world’s top make-up artists.

Reflecting on her two months in the competition, she said: “The process definitely helped me grow as an artist as the competition – and other contestants – pushed me to experiment with new mediums, go out of my comfort zone and try new things.

“My focus was on creating amazing work, having an impact and leaving my imprints in people’s minds – I was focussing on that, instead of on winning.

“Even in the last challenge, I didn’t expect anything. It keeps me grounded and humbled. It still feels surreal."

Ophelia, who now lives in London, added: “Covid-19 has affected a lot in the industry so it will all be outside and remote working for me for the time being.

“But I cannot wait to receive my three month contract with an agency and kick-start my stable career in make-up.

One of her creations

"I don’t know what’s to come, but I’m hoping for the best and working hard to achieve as much as I can.”

Ophelia, who studied fashion design at Ravensbourne University in London, has gained tens of thousands of new followers on her social media with no sign of this slowing down.

Speaking ahead of the competition, she said: “I became interested in fashion when I was 13 or 14, through discovering music and fashionable trends.

“In Hong Kong, at that age, there weren’t many subcultures to embrace my interests, and the only time I really used dramatic make-up and dressed up was at Halloween.

"Music, fashion and Halloween shaped me.

“Along the line, after a disappointing first experience as a recent fashion graduate, the tables turned and an area manager for one of my favourite fashion brands spotted my make-up work on Instagram and offered me a job – I accepted right away.

“Since then, I’ve worked my way up and am now one of eight events team artists representing the brand globally.

Ophelia with Stacey Dooley and the other contestants

"I also do freelance work and have my own clothing company.”

Speaking of how she became involved with the TV series, she said: “The auditions were not easy – many thousands of talented makeup artists.

"It took a lot of nerve and energy, especially to show your work, ethic and skills on television."

Concord College’s head of art Anthony Hudson, who was a keen viewer each week, said: “I think it’s safe to say that we have always known Ophelia would do something extraordinary with her art.

“She has always been bold and brave with her ideas and it was so good to watch Glow Up and see that she has continued to work hard, stay creative and push her ideas forward – regardless of what others may think.

“To see a former student achieve this level of success with their art is wonderful.

One of her creations

"She’s a great artist and fantastic young person – we are proud beyond words.”

College principal Neil Hawkins added: “It was an amazingly impressive performance throughout the series where Ophelia embodied creativity, determination and ultimately talent.

“She was the stand-out contestant in our eyes and we are very proud that she has found the courage to follow her dreams.

"Her story is truly inspirational and everyone at Concord wishes her every success in her future career.”

Judges in the show, which is presented by Stacey Dooley, described Ophelia, who studied at Concord College from 2009-2013, as a "true and confident artist" and complimented her "imagination, artistry and incredible technical talent".

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News