Alberta woman who delivers calves secures ‘Last of Us’ Emmy nomination for hairstyling

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Southern Alberta woman who delivers calves secures Last of Us Emmy nomination for hairstyling
A southern Alberta woman is part of a team of hairstylists that received an Emmy nomination for their work on the Last of Us, the series that has been shot around Calgary. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the hairstylist's journey has taken her from birthing cows to stylist for the stars – Jul 15, 2023

A southern Alberta woman is part of a team of hairstylists that received an Emmy nomination for their work on The Last of Us, the HBO series that has been shot around Calgary.

The Last of Us scored 24 nominations this week, some involving Alberta workers.

Chris Glimsdale from Claresholm and Penny Thompson from Brooks join Courtney Ullrich from Los Angeles in a nomination for outstanding contemporary hairstyling.

Glimsdale and her husband run a small cattle operation near Claresholm. When she isn’t getting her hands dirty doing chores, she’s styling Hollywood hair.

On the set of 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, she finished work and left to help her husband with some bovine birthing.

“I was colouring Brad Pitt’s hair that night and my husband was having trouble calving so I went and helped him birth a calf. So, my arm is elbow deep in helping him out,” Glimsdale said.

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“Here I was one minute touching Brad Pitt, and the next minute I’m in a cow helping it give birth.  It’s so grounding to come home from all this craziness to the farm. It’s amazing.”

Glimsdale got her start after leaving her Montreal home at the age of 16 and moving to Alberta.

She began styling hair at The Bay in Calgary and jumped to films, working in muddy battlefields shooting Passchendaele and cutting hair on the top of Fortress Mountain in Kananaskis Country on the Bourne Legacy.

Creating hair for infected zombies is her most creative work yet.

“The team is extremely talented in being able to make that work because it’s a five-hour prosthetic piece that goes on,” Glimsdale said.

Glimsdale and her team have been working with prosthetic artists from all over the world on The Last of Us but the entire team of 35 hairstylists is from Alberta.

“They treated us with honour and respect, as if we had all the talent in the world which we do have. But a lot of times people don’t see people from Alberta as having that much talent, so it makes my heart grow. It makes me teary that we are being acknowledged,” she said while becoming emotional.

She said the team put it long days working on each stand of hair on fungus-faced actors.

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“It was exhausting but it was all worth it. There was an adrenaline rush when you saw it happen and when you see them out in the field or on the set and you saw that it was so good,” Glimsdale said.

This is the fifth time Glimsdale has been part of a team nominated for an Emmy but those awards may not happen at the start of September because of the actor and writer strikes.

Tens of thousands Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists hit the picket lines last week, joining 11,000 Writers Guild of America screenwriters who have been on strike since May.

Glimsdale says the use of artificial intelligence is impacting many people in the entertainment industry.

“It really affects all of us because if they are digitally producing characters, we are not needed anymore as a hairstylist or make-up artist. We are needed for the initial scan, but after that we’re not needed,” Glimsdale said.

Glimsdale said she’ll be ok while she’s on strike but worries for the younger people who will be out of work as those in the entertainment industry fight for their art.

“It needs to be addressed in the contract because it will help everybody in the long run,” Glimsdale said.

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Other local Emmy nominees who worked on The Last of Us include: Calgary set decorator Paul Healy  in the outstanding production design category and Calgarians Rebecca Toon and Michelle Carr for outstanding contemporary costumes for a series and Calgary’s Michael Playfair shares a nomination with Marc Fishman and Kevin Roache for outstanding sound mixing in a comedy or drama.

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