BBC / Wall To Wall / Dave King

Glow Up: Surviving a terror attack influenced my make-up artistry

Ryan, from Glow Up, talks about how surviving the Manchester Arena attack inspired one of his make-up looks.

Share this:

The new series of make-up competition show Glow Up is airing on BBC Three - and in the first episode, one contestant is channeling a particularly life-changing event: surviving the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.

Ryan remembers the attack - and the aftermath - as "a horrible, dark time". He says: "It was awful."

Ryan Beaumont, from Bolton, is one of 10 aspiring and talented make-up artists (MUAs) competing in the fourth series of the show.

Presenter Maya Jama joins resident judges Val Garland and Dominic Skinner - along with experts from the worlds of beauty, TV, music and fashion - to assess the young competitors' make-up skills.

BBC / Wall To Wall / Dave King
Left to right: Judges Dominic Skinner, Val Garland, guest judge Ivy Weir-Ikpeme and presenter Maya Jama

After eight weeks, the last MUA standing is crowned Britain's Next Make-up Star, winning a contract assisting some of the world's top make-up artists.

In the first episode, the aspiring MUAs are tasked with creating a look inspired by their "hidden strength".

For his look, Ryan, 20, decided to reflect on how he lived through the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert.

Twenty-two people, some of them children, were killed in the Manchester Arena attack on 22 May 2017.

'We were just crying'

Ryan was only 15 when he attended the concert with his best friend - one of the first times they'd spent out in the city together.

They enjoyed the concert and, as the event was coming to an end, Ryan tried to meet up with some other people he knew who were also at the concert.

Eventually, though, he and his friend left the venue so they could meet up with the parents of Ryan's best friend who were waiting for them outside, so they could all get the train home together.

It was then, as they were walking to leave the building, that they saw, heard and felt the explosion.

BBC / Wall To Wall / Dave King
Ryan did not know anyone who died in the bombing but in the days after he began to deal with "survivor's guilt"

"It was just awful, really, the whole thing," he says. "We saw the bang and the flashes of light. You could feel a force behind you. It was weird as anything."

Ryan and his friend were initially too scared to move in case there might be another attack but, he says, adrenaline took over and they ran outside.

"We were just crying. We stood in Manchester for a while because we needed a minute to collect our thoughts."

Ryan didn't know anyone who died in the bombing but in the days after, he began to deal with "survivor's guilt" and he thought about how if he had continued to wait to meet up with his other friends inside the arena then he might have been caught up in the explosion more directly.

'I like the idea of light always defeating dark'

Ryan was away from school for weeks after the attack and struggled to leave the house. He remembers that the bombing "was just plastered everywhere: on Facebook, on Instagram, on the news."

So instead of watching TV, for example, he turned to his passion for make-up "to escape reality".

When he was eventually picked to take part on Glow Up and after receiving the creative brief to express a "hidden strength", he decided to focus on living through a difficult moment (top image).

"Doing that look brought back a lot of memories," he says.

"I just thought it would be a really nice thing to do, to kind of represent people who have gone through or are going through something bad in their life.

"It doesn't have to be about the Manchester terror attack, it could be about anything.

BBC / Wall To Wall / Dave King
Ryan describes his time on the show as a "roller coaster" and adds that he's "made amazing friends for life"

"I like the message of resilience and I like the idea of light always defeating dark.

"I wanted to do a look using fire and this burning energy to break through the evil."

Ryan, whose make-up style is influenced by his love of fantasy films, adds that he has watched every season of Glow Up and says he's "obsessed" with it.

He describes his time on the show as a "roller coaster" and adds that he's "made amazing friends for life".