Lori Hicks puts on a good face

The work of Lori Hicks was featured in a magazine for a Japanese audience.

Talent fostered since childhood led to a career in the arts for Lori Hicks. The Greencastle native is head make-up designer for the television show The Americans on FX. It is in its second season and stars Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich. They are just the latest in a long line of celebrities Hicks has worked with during her career.

“I was always good at art,” she said from her New York City home.

She took classes from art teacher John Gamble, graduating from Greencastle-Antrim High School in 1978, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from East Carolina University in 1983. She moved to Boston. Her first big gig was the American Playhouse film Lemon Sky, with Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. She was assistant hair stylist and assistant make-up artist.

Though she learned the intricacies of the job by doing it, her educational foundation with Gamble and at college paid off.

“I knew color theory, contour and 3-D design,” Hicks said.

And she was able to put to bed the fears of her father. The daughter of Kermit and Kitsie Hicks, she noted that because of her choice of major, “My dad was worried he’d have to support me forever.”

She joined the crew of The Americans for its pilot episode. Set in the 1980s, it features two KGB spies posing as Americans in Washington DC. Hicks designs make-up that fits the era, which was known as a carry-over from the 1950s and 60s, lots of hair and a look that “wasn’t that attractive.” She softens the appearance of the characters, and creates make-up and disguises using tricks such as freckles, a change of teeth, birthmarks and scars. They don’t get the plastic surgery, tattoos or piercings common in the 21st century.


Hicks’ career brought her across the United States and around the world. She was on staff for Madonna’s Girlie Show World Tour in 1993. They hit Asia, Japan, Israel, Europe and South America.

“That was a great job,” she said. She worked on the singers and dancers who accompanied the pop star. She also felt lucky that so much money was available at the time for behind the scenes people, not the case today.

Work on movies, television shows, plays and live performances brought her into contact with notables such as Mary Tyler Moore, Jennifer Beals, Julia Roberts, Timothy Hutton, Bette Midler and Ben Stiller.

She also worked on five movies with Woody Allen.

“He’s interesting, an icon. It was an honor to have the experience,” she said.

Never using an agent, Hicks networked within the industry, and it led to a wide range of jobs that fit her schedule.

“I’m a mother. My priority is mother. I take a job, then a break, then a job, then a break.”

She and her husband Dario Eskenavi are parents to Ilan, 14, and Maia, 11. All of them are involved in the performing arts. They live in Brooklyn, and she considers her neighborhood similar to a small town.

“Our building itself is a community.”

Hicks has been recognized for her work. She was featured in the Japanese version of Zip Magazine. Last May the costume, hair and makeup design team of The Americans won the Variety Ensemble Award at Designing Women. The annual event was created by the organization New York Women in Film & Television in 2000 to honor the most talented and influential contributors to the art of the moving image. Presenters at the ceremony were Norah Jones, Jon Landau, Julianna Margulies and Richard Thomas.

“It’s an honor to be acknowledged,” Hicks said, “but it’s not why I do it. I like the process, and working with directors and actors.”

She is enjoying the latest assignment for FX. The spy characters also have two children and chaotic lives.

“This job is pretty interesting, to keep coming up with ideas,” she said. “I joke it’s my life with the dead body in the car to get rid of.”

The Americans season premier first aired Feb. 26.