Black makeup artists on diversity and equal pay
I’d like to start by talking about how you both got your start in the makeup industry.
BW: I randomly started wearing makeup! I actually went to school for interior design. I worked at Ralph Lauren for a bit, but definitely different. These types of customers will have very different trust issues. When you are working from someone’s home, you really have to respect their preferences and preferences. While — not that you can’t wear makeup — but, I think since makeup is outward and the world is seeing it and judging it, someone is more likely to like to trust you in that sense. Trends are always changing and people trust you to know what looks good. When you’re at home, you just want to feel at home. So I had an interesting time navigating that language with different clients. Then I entered [makeup] one way or another and I think I’ve always enjoyed it, but I think I will [work] on the business side of it because I got a lot of information from Ralph Lauren. But then, I don’t know, I just found that I really liked it. I feel like you just always fall for it—you never really plan for it.
AA: I had a degree in public relations, but then I realized that’s not what I wanted to do. I started thinking about how to make money and makeup has always been my hobby. Looking back at it, I used to sneak into my sister’s room while she was sleeping and play at the foot of the bed with her MAC makeup so it was clear that it was always with me—I just never connected with it. it until later. I moved to New York and went to makeup school mainly to figure out exactly what I wanted to do in makeup because I didn’t really know. I supported [for a while] and then I moved to LA, where the sun always shines.
What inspired the idea for this podcast and when did you both decide that you wanted to do this?
AA: It’s really a random type. It started because I was trying to get out of the makeup artist space and more into the content creation space. So in an attempt to do that, I told my PR girl I wanted to start getting podcast guests, and she said, “Okay, how about you have a podcast?” I said, “This just escalates so much.” But then I thought about it. I told Brittany and we started talking. It starts [with] something related to beauty and then we talk about relationships, marriage, and the like, and then somehow it still reverts to beauty at the end of the conversation. That’s when I asked, “Would you like to do this podcast with me?” And she said yes. That’s where it started.
BW: I feel like we both have great credentials and we work with great clients. We have very interesting views on many different things and both are relevant but at the same time different. We respect each other in our jokes even when we disagree. I feel like it just works.
Let’s talk about the latest episode Black on Set! I like this set. Some of the situations discussed in the show are just insane. Can you think of any other cases where your job felt like an uphill battle just because you were Black?
BW: I feel like I always support talents with deeper skin tones and I feel like the producers are going to put me in because they think I’m the one to be filled in because I’m black. I know that has to do with colorism. Sometimes I have problems with checking in on people on set. They don’t think it’s coming from me — especially when it comes to lighting. We talked about this on one of our episodes. I definitely had their light dismantling department because they weren’t lighting Negroes properly. And then in the moment, it falls on you because somehow it’s your fault. Or they’ll say the makeup is shiny but it’s not – she’s a doughnut. Then I said, “Actually, your light is right in front of her so maybe something needs to be adjusted.” That’s how I speak up and try to advocate when I don’t think they’ve set me up for it. They put me with the thought, “Okay, we’ve done our job.”
That’s a huge part of the problem. Some people have a problem with someone speaking up and trying to advocate for more diversity. They don’t realize that by reacting that way, they are being extremely racist.
AA: You know what I didn’t talk about in this episode? After 2020, brands are trying to be more diverse, so they want to hire more Black and Brown artists, but at a lower rate than they would hire a white artist. I had a brand contact me to help develop the launch colors and they wanted to pay me $1,500. My agent was like, “You want her to help you develop the shade range for your foundation that you’re coming out and you want to pay her $1,500?” It’s going to be at Sephora. He went back and forth a bit and he ended up getting them which could go up to $5,000 because I like the brand. In the end, they went behind my back and hired someone else who ended up working just for the penny. They still treat them like a forerunner. It definitely still gives the vibe of “We did this because it was the right thing to do.”