If you’ve already binged the latest season of Orange is the New Black, you might have noticed that the season’s heartbreaking penultimate episode, The Big House, was dedicated to Karen Reuter. The name might sound familiar to some of OITNB’s superfans, but what role did she play on the show?
If you loved the makeup looks on OITNB — or maybe, well, Laverne Cox’s looks, Alex’s winged eyeliner, Lorna’s red lip, and everyone else’s hyper-realistic wounds and special effects makeup — you have Reuter to thank. Reuter, who worked as a key makeup artist on the show’s first few seasons before becoming the show’s makeup department head, passed away on January 24, about a month before the final season’s filming wrapped.
Kate Mulgrew (Red) shared a heartfelt tribute to Reuter on Twitter. “Farewell to a warm-eyed woman wearing low-slung dungarees and a wry smile at 6am, whose work ethic was surpassed only by her bravery, which she revealed through laughter, kindness, and a turning away from self,” she wrote.
My makeup artist on OITNB, Karen Reuter, passed away last week. Farewell to a warm-eyed woman wearing low-slung dungarees and a wry smile at 6am, whose work ethic was surpassed only by her bravery, which she revealed through laughter, kindness, and a turning away from self.— Kate Mulgrew (@TheKateMulgrew) February 2, 2019
Some of Mulgrew’s co-stars, including Lori Petty (Lolly) and Selenis Leyva (Gloria), responded with love to her tweet. Shawna Hamic also shared her feelings about Reuter’s passing. Hamic, who plays newer character C.O. Ginger, said, “I wish I had the chance to know her better. She’ll be missed.”
You can scroll through some of Reuter’s best OITNB looks on her Instagram, and watch the final season of OITNB on Netflix now.