Melanie Mills: Live It, Own It, Work It

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Melanie Mills

This month, we welcomed Melanie Mills as a special guest speaker in our Wednesday Night Lecture series.

Melanie is an Emmy winning makeup artist who has become one of the most sought after names in the industry. She served as head makeup artist on ABC television’s smash hit “Dancing With the Stars” for five years, redefining the look of the makeup for the series. She is also known for her beautiful body makeup design and revolutionary line, GLEAM by Melanie Mills.

Melanie’s first experience with makeup was through a friend who was part of a makeup school. Melanie desperately wanted to be a part of the school, but didn’t have the financial means to pursue her dream. She was soon connected with a union makeup artist though her hairdresser, and she was set up a few days later with an internship on set. Though this position was unpaid and the hours were long, she was offered a job as a makeup artist for another low budget film. She soon worked on her first film and joined the union.

Melanie shared advice that she feels is valuable to makeup artists starting out. “Every single opportunity you get, dive in and go for it!” As a makeup artist, she emphasized the importance of having skills that stand out. In such a competitive business, not only your skills should stand out, but your personality as well. “Take the extra steps to do extra special things.” Through her experiences, she found that the more people she told about her makeup artistry, the more job opportunities came to her. She emphasized the importance of “Putting yourself out there any way you can.” Melanie was constantly networking and putting herself around other makeup artists and hairstylists and as a result, she got the opportunity to work as an assistant on “Dancing With the Stars.” Through hard work and unique skills, she became the lead makeup artist for the show. She shared her vision for the makeup on the show with the producer and director and ended up keeping the job for five years, until she stepped down from lead artist to pursue other aspects of the makeup industry. She encourages makeup artists to always have a backup plan as things can change quickly, for the good or bad.

Melanie’s experiences brought her to her point that “it is important to take what you can get; it will always lead to something else. Be clean, fast, helpful, and have a great personality.” Melanie’s saying, “Live it, Own it, Work it,” comes from the necessity to inspire the dancers she worked with on the show, the artists and most importantly her own life. She believes that everything in the makeup industry has a domino effect. “Everything that happens good or bad, happens for a reason.” Talent is a must, but more importantly, because this is a networking business, you must have personality and the ability to connect with people.

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