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Be A Model…or Just Act Like One


(Rocking my mustache at Red Rock Resort during the Sephora Pro Artist Finals, a competition for makeup artists)

I was completely floored yesterday to learn that I was hired to replace a model that didn’t like her makeup design. She called out the second day of a two-day job because she didn’t want to wear a mustache.

The event was a huge competition, and the makeup artist assigned to this particular model had ONE SHOT to compete for the title of official Sephora Pro Artist. The stakes were high.

Twenty-eight finalists at Red Rock Resort competed for twelve coveted spots. It was the chance of a lifetime for each aspiring makeup artist, culminating in a huge circus themed showcase, where every design would be publicly judged in a room full of hundreds of attendees.

Now I wasn’t there on the first day, so I can only tell you what “word on the street” was. And “word on the street” was this: “This girl here yesterday got really snippy about the design”. “She was very uncooperative in the artists chair”. “Yeah, that other model was NOT having it”.

Excuse me?


One excellent reason to get into entertainment is to participate in great storytelling. One awful reason to get into entertainment is “to look good”.

Oh and by the way? The design she so loathed was off the hook amazing.

The artist himself was a very androgynous burlesque performer, and his vision for the assigned character—The Ring Mistress—was a fierce, androgynous woman with a mustache. He planned to wear his own makeup in a very feminine way, pushing the boundaries of social convention as he walked the runway in gender opposition to his model.

His design fit elegantly within the circus theme, and he was certainly one of the most innovative artists in attendance.

Why, WHY would anyone endanger the outcome of such a contest with anything other than a collaborative attitude? Everything that artist was working for could have been lost when she chose to quit. And for what? Because she didn’t want to wear a mustache?

I respond with this list of the Top Five Ways Not To Be Horrible Talent:

1. Remember that talent is a replaceable puzzle piece of a greater creative objective. Whenever we take on a projects as “talent," we are agreeing to bring our gifts to the table in service of someone else’s vision. If you want to have an opinion, fund your own project and make yourself the star. (In other words, fill your OWN dang green M & M bowl.)

2. Leave your ego at the door. Drop any personal investment in “how you look” on the job. Just work and keep your mouth closed. Production is expensive and time consuming. Nobody wants to babysit you, and there is a line of talent waiting who are happy to work without causing problems.

3. You don’t get an opinion. The End. Sometimes, well-meaning collaborators make the mistake of asking talent what they think. If anyone asks your opinion, the only answer is “you’re the boss, boss.” One time a makeup artist apologized to me for the discomfort that a glittered lipstick would cause me over the course of a few hours. I thought, why in the world would she apologize? That’s what the money is for!

4. Trust the collaborative process. Part of your job is letting everyone else to do their job. This will benefit you directly, because they can see things through the camera that you can’t see. Let them help you.

5. Learn how to behave on set. Be helpful. Be humble. Find out what everyone is working towards, and learn how to contribute a productive presence to the work environment. Read Michael Caine’s book, Acting in Film, for excellent tips about behavior on set.

But what of our makeup artist friend? Did he make the cut?

I’m so proud to report that he made it! The prestige of his new title as an official Sephora Pro Artist will afford him exciting opportunities as a makeup designer, speaker, and teacher.

Even after being ditched at the worst possible moment, he jumped into day two with both feet. Against the odds, he pressed on and created something that lived up to his capabilities.

One judge remarked, “I really wasn’t crazy about this design yesterday, but today it’s taking on a whole new life, with a level of detail and texture that simply wasn’t there before. Very well done, sir.”

I was so jazzed to be his model, strutting the runway in his edgy design.

Sometimes, performing as "talent" is as easy as listening and following directions. There is a great amount of talent in learning how to be present, and to tune in with the team instead of our fears.

Hmm. Halloween is right around the corner. I had so much fun, that I might just have to resurrect this whole mustache thing just one more time.


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