You might not know Francesca Curran’s name, but you probably know her face. Or, maybe not. The 24-year-old actress plays Skinhead Helen on Orange is the New Black. She joined the show in season four, but season five is her big breakout as the scary white supremacist inmate and psuedo-leader of the white power group. Helen is bald and covered in tattoos, including a chilling “100%” on her neck. Curran herself doesn’t have any tattoos, so she has to transform into Helen every day on set. Not only does it take forever to get her makeup done, but she also shaves her head every day. Yes, she’s really totally bald — a major commitment to the character.
In an interview with Insider, Curran admits she’s the first one on set and the last to leave thanks to her major transformation. She hits the hair department first to get her head shaved so the makeup team can painstakingly apply each tattoo. She’s also given undereye circles (a far departure from actors who usually cover them up), eyebrow whitening, and gray makeup for her teeth to look unclean. She tells Insider that it used to take three-and-a-half hours but now it “only” takes about an hour. She doesn’t even know how many tattoos they apply.
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“I tried to count one day. We kept losing count,” she said. “I have so many individual stars on my face. So, it’s like, oh my gosh, maybe 20 to 30 stars on my face, and then I’ve got two to three, maybe two to three, three to four on each arm. Then I’ve got one on my neck, I’ve got three on my head.”
When not working, Curran wears a few different wigs, and pretty glam makeup. (TBH, she looks great bald, too.) “In real life, I’m so feminine. I’m so girly. I love my makeup, I love my jewelry and all that,” she told Insider.
Fans of the show don’t even recognize Curran when she’s out and about, even when she’s with her fellow OITNB cast members. I mean, just look at that transformation.
Shaving her head has made a big impact on Curran’s life. Aside from being on a hit show, she wrote on Instagram that going bald has been a “freeing” and “eye-opening experience.” She added: “Real talk- If you want to learn something about who you are, chop off all your hair…whatever makes you happy- just DO IT! Life is so short, what’s to lose? Dye your hair purple, cut it off, quit your office job, move to Fiji, open an ice cream stand. Travel the world with your best friend doing good deeds.”
We have a feeling Francesca Curran has a big career ahead of her long after Skinhead Helen’s time at Litchfield.
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