Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

Last night, in Face Off‘s live finale (read our on-the-scene report here), Nicole Chilelli took home the top prize for the Syfy show’s third season. She’s the show’s first female winner and the show’s first “comeback girl” – she worked her way up to being crowned winner (as voted by the fans) after having been eliminated then being given the chance to earn her way back into competition earlier in the season.

The win certainly looked like an emotional whirlwind for Chilelli, who shed some tears upon the announcement of her name. When she began talking with EW just minutes after host McKenzie Westmore had announced her name, she said, “What is happening right now? This is not even real!” Since then, though, she’s probably had some time to let it all sink in, and right now she very well may be on a Los Angeles shopping spree. “Tomorrow I’m going to every makeup store in L.A., and I’m just buying everything!” she said. In the midst of the celebration right after the finale, Chilelli talked to EW about the twist of bringing her back into competition, which of her prizes she’s most excited about and what she plans to do next.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me what the past 24 hours have been like. Did you get any sleep last night?

NICOLE CHILELLI: I really couldn’t sleep last night. I was so nervous. Just going over everything in my head. Once I sat down and saw my family, all that kind of went away, and it was just about me excited and just the excitement, and the nerves subsided. I am just so thankful, and oh my God, this is amazing. It’s just gonna make my career go so much further. I really wanna go back to school ’cause I’m self-taught. So I would love to actually go to a special effects makeup school and learn, and this is my opportunity now, and I can take care of my mom [who, like Chilelli, has Fibromyalgia], and she’s gone through so many things, and this is gonna help her so much. I can’t even believe this now. I’m so shocked.

Of the three prizes you’re getting for winning this season, which are you most excited about?

Oh God, they’re all so amazing, but I think Paris. It’s a dream come true to be able to go. I’ve never been anywhere outside of California … The Paris trip is gonna be amazing. And the car – I’ve never owned anything nice like that. It talks to you!

There’s been some feedback from fans and even some contestants that bringing you back into competition may not have been fair. What do you think about that?

It was insane when they told me I had a second chance. My first reaction was, “How are the other contestants gonna feel about this?” Mostly everybody was like, “If we were given that opportunity, any one of us would have done the same thing.” How can you turn down that? It’s not like I’m not gonna go and I’m not gonna fight my hardest, so I am so thankful that they gave us a second chance because this show – it’s so fast. Everything’s so quick – one little mistake and the whole makeup can be ruined, and a good artist can go home when the tiniest little thing happens. I’m so glad they saw that I still had a lot left to give. I’m definitely not done. There’s a lot more in store for me.

What advice or criticism you received from the judges are you planning to apply to your future work?

Ve and Glenn both said that I need to trust my instincts. I need to follow my heart and how I feel about it, and when I do that, I do good makeup. I think that’s right. You have to love what you’re doing. If you love what you’re doing, it’s gonna be good. Definitely need to trust myself and move forward.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

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