MUD Celebrates Our 20th Anniversary with Stephen McCallum

Who is Stephen McCallum? A true jack-of-all-trades, Stephen has filled just about every position we have at MUD. In the beginning, McCallum and CEO Tate Holland did all the paperwork for the school side-by-side, including admissions and contracts. His greatest accomplishment at MUD is perhaps applying for the school’s accreditation–even in the face of a full software crash three days before the site team visited MUD’s Los Angeles location. In his own words, “if there’s something to be done around here I’ve done it–except that guy’s job,” pointing to Holland’s office, “and I don’t want it.”

Now, McCallum jokingly calls himself “the most overpaid secretary in the world,” but that’s not really accurate. McCallum always stays tied to Operations and management here at MUD. But his most important task of all? Keeping our office running with his mischievous sense of humor and opportune life advice. Full of laughs and stories, Stephen McCallum is the behind-the-scenes expert on all things MUD.

Q: How has the MUD team changed over the years?

A: In size and scope, we have changed enormously, from a small three-room school to an international corporation with two primary campuses, schools Europe, Latin America, and Africa, and many other educational partnerships around the world. However, in our essence and mission, MUD has changed very little in 20 years. We started as a group of friends, and very high goals…now, our goals remain ambitious and our friends have grown.

Q: Looking back, what do you think is the biggest challenge MUD has overcome?

A: The biggest challenges MUD had was being accepted as a real school, then as a real cosmetics line. However, with our true work ethic and a line of outstanding products, we quickly earned the respect of our students, our grads, and our professional friends in the industry. And, for twenty years, we have maintained that ethic and that respect.

Q: How did you envision the future of MUD back in 1997?

A:  The guys were good at their jobs, but risked their homes, their families, and their careers. I was a wandering leftover from the 60’s, not afraid to fail. But, they put their livelihood in my hands, asking me to manage the paperwork that is demanded in the business world. With the help and support from Crystal Wright, editor of “The Make-up and Hairstylist Guide,” Maurice Stein of Cinema Secret, Dana Nye of Ben Nye Cosmetics, and Wolfram Langer of Kryolan, we built a school ready to represent the film and television industry. And, the support of the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education set standards worthy of being lived up to, and have supported the school since the very beginning.

Q: What’s your most memorable moment from the last 20 years? Your funniest moment?

A: The most memorable moment was March 20, 2001, when the California State Senate made it “Make-Up Designory” Day, with State Senator John Scott presenting us with an official Resolution. The ceremony was nerve-aching. There were lots of people touring our brand-new facilities in Burbank, only two years after our start.

My most memorable moment was the original application and process for our Accreditation through ACCSCT (now, just ACCSC). It required five weeks of effort, 69 pounds of paperwork, and having our computer software completely crash two days before the on-site visit. We received the Commission’s approval on our first attempt.

There have been plenty of funny moments. However, the two best were:

  1. a) In 1998, our first year, we were on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake. Right across the street was Trader Joe’s. After Paul completed a very descriptive injury demonstration, the student (not realizing the effect) walked across the street to get her lunch, sending the store into complete chaos. The staff even called 9-1-1 thinking she was in shock! We were asked to refrain from our students doing that again.
  2. b) In 2005, we had just opened our New York campus. Then, during the character class, students were so excited by the “characters” they were, they wore their makeups home, to show their families, on the subway. This, of course, created a whole new series of panics, resulting in NYPD sending us a letter to instruct our students they could not wear their makeups on the subway!