I recently caught up with the very lovely and incredibly talented celebrity makeup artist Marylin Lee, former makeup department head at E! Television who paints the faces of several of Hollywood’s leading ladies. At a hair care event hosted by her client, the gorgeous Brooke Burke, I jumped at the chance to interview her on her career, favorite products and what she used on Brooke earlier that morning!
Q: Would love to hear a little bit about how you got to where you are today. How many years have you worked as a makeup artist for?
A: About 12 fabulous years!
Q: Did you receive your training in school, or are you self-taught?
A: Several years ago I went to a school named Make-Up Designory (MUD) where I met a lot of great people and received a top-notch education. I took the Journeyman Program (which includes character makeup artistry and fashion makeup artistry).
Q: Does MUD have a career center to place students with jobs?
A: Yes, they kind of hook you up, especially with student films. I started off that way- doing a lot of films- and then I hooked up with a couple of photographers and did a lot of testing with modeling agencies. Eventually, I ended up working for E! Television and when the department head went on maternity leave, I took over. I was there for about seven years and while running the department, I met Brooke. She took me onto the set of her shows Rockstar: INXS and Rockstar: Supernova, and since then I’ve done most of her television work.
Q: Very cool, and inspiring! What advice do you have for someone trying to break into the industry?
A: The one thing I didn’t know back then is that you can actually earn a living as an assistant. Call agencies and try to assist as much as possible because I know a lot of people who started as assistants and had jobs passed down to them. And you can learn so much from other makeup artists, don’t just do your own thing. There’s always something to learn from other artists, actors and talent.
Q: Is assisting a full-time job?
A: It is a full-time thing. Always be available and never turn down a job, even if you’re working for free because one job will lead to another. I know people who did low budget independent films and then worked with an actress who just happened to move on to be the next big thing. Be nice to everybody, and don’t be a diva. Remember, it’s not about you, you’re there to provide for your talent.
Q: Do you have a particular brand that you favor?
A: Hmmm, there’s not one particular brand, every brand offers something good. Right now I really love the Temptu airbrush system sold at Sephora. I’ve been airbrushing for years and this is a no-brainer system. There’s no mixing and no cleaning up because everything comes in easy, convenient cartridges. I’m loving it!
Q: Can you talk about the products you used on Brooke today?
A: I used so many different things, a lot of mixing. Her foundation is Temptu airbrush, and on her cheeks and lips I applied Korres, a natural line. The blush is shade 44, an orange.
Q: So you really like Korres. Do you favor eco-friendly and natural lines?
A: Yes, I do. I prefer eco-friendly lines and Korres has really gorgeous shades.
Q: What mascara did you use, because Brooke’s lashes look fierce!?
A: Thanks! Her lashes are called Fairies. They’re strip lash and I like them because they’re not a thick, solid lash, but more sparse and fluttery. I get them online (madamemadeline.com) and I’ve seen them at beauty supply stores. I’m all about finding tools online and at 99-cent stores!
Q: Thanks so much, Marylin! It’s inspiring to hear how you’ve made it so far- thanks for the advice!