McKenzie Westmore
Tommy Garcia/Syfy

Digital effects may dominate the movies, but Syfy’s special-effects makeup competition show Face Off, which returns for a fifth season later this month, revels in awesome organic creations. Host/actress McKenzie Westmore knows the craft well — her father, grandfather and great-grandfather comprise a movie-makeup dynasty — and she wore some prosthetics during her nearly decade-long tenure on the soap opera Passions. Westmore talks about Face Off’s old-school appeal and her favorite altered looks.

On why it’s so fun to watch: “Everybody gets instant gratification with the transformations. You can’t beat them. It’s people using their hands, being creative and having to use things outside of a computer.”

On her favorite personal transformations: “I was done up as Cleopatra [on Passions] — that Elizabeth Taylor look with the black eye shadow and the black wig. I was made up to be a man for a good portion of one year. I had so much fun doing that. The transformations for Face Off have been amazing, and I got to act a little bit through them. Medusa was the best. I would love to play her.”

On her personal makeover wish list: “I just love Seven of Nine and the Borg Queen [from Star Trek]. That part-robotic, part-human element is so interesting. Also, a female Creature From the Black Lagoon. When you do prosthetics that get away from the human being is when it gets fun. Nobody knows what they act like, so you can create them as you go along.”