First thing that strikes me about Melanesia is her visual self-expression through her many hair styles and colors. This lets me know a few things about the personality, of not just a creative makeup artist, but Melanesia the person, the free spirit with creative talents. Melanesia is an LA Based celebrity makeup artist who’s making her mark on the industry. Her visual resume includes ” making the faces” of such Celebs as: Raven Symone, Kevin Hart and Shanell of Young money just to name drop a few. While reading her blog I get the sense that Melanesia, is a very humble and enlightened woman with amazing talent who has a huge lust for the life that she is living.
1. A makeup artist dream is to land a big celebrity client, how did you become the personal makeup artist for Shanell “SNL” of Young Money?
It’s actually a pretty random yet inspiring story on how God and the universe works. I was in the car with a friend of mine one night and we were listening to Wayne’s Rebirth album, and this song called “Runnin” came on. I loved it, and I kept asking my friend who the girl was that was singing, but he didn’t know exactly and neither did I. When I got home I looked on YouTube, because I had to know who the girl was. I was so impressed by her voice and just her. Fast forward to about two weeks later and a photographer I had been reaching out to by the name of Jessica Hatter finally responded to me and asked me if I would be interested in doing a video she was shooting for a singer by the name of Shanell, and I was like wow…this is crazy!! I just heard of this chick two weeks ago, and now somebody is asking me to do her makeup…cool!!! I agreed and the video shoot went well. I never thought much of it because I just came in, did my thing and left when the shoot was over. To be honest, and we laugh about this now but we both thought each other were weirdos, so there wasn’t much interaction between me and her outside of the basics. She was shooting another video the next day by the same photographer but I wasn’t supposed to do the make up for that one so when I got the phone call the next day that she wanted me to come back instead of the other artist I was like “oh wow….maybe she did like me” , and the rest is history…I’ve been with her ever since.
2. What are some of the challenges of being a makeup artist on tour?
If you don’t have kids, a pet, or a husband at home I would say they are no challenges. Maybe it depends on who you choose to go on tour with! Because touring goes on for extended periods of time, and you have to be with your client the whole time. It is very important to me that I’m with someone who respects and appreciates me and vice versa. Because it can be stressful especially since you’re somewhat forced to be around people on the daily that you might not choose to be around. Your personality may be a loner, and just always have the urge to have some “alone time” which doesn’t really exist in touring. The beautiful this is you are constantly doing what you love to do which is makeup. If you know your craft, have great communication with the artist your working for and know what they like, understand stage make up, lighting, etc then you are pretty much set to just enjoy life on the road!
3. Do you feel that jump started your career, or do you give credit to something else ?
I think my buzz kind of started before I started touring, and I would attribute that to just God showing me favor. I randomly ended up in the presence of other amazing artist when I first moved here. And my energy is something that people are drawn to and I am so grateful for that. I ended up establishing relationships with other Atlanta professionals. The ones that were aspiring like me are still around and we are all still really close. We grew together in Atlanta ya know. Julian Lark is now a known celebrity stylist and editor in chief of Kontrol Magazine. I met him at a powershoot with Derek Blanks and Leo Marshall when I first moved to Atlanta. Through Kontrol Magazine, I ended up meeting and working with a lot of celebrities that were being shot for the covers. I also met celebrity hair stylist and salon owner Latay Mays at that same power shoot. At that powershoot I was able to leave a good impression on Derek Blanks, and although we didn’t start working together immediately I had his contact info and I just kept in touch over time. Through Kontrol I started working with a very successful photographer by the name of Allen Cooley and we have been teaming up and pushing out amazing work ever since. One day I was called in to fill in for another makeup artist on a powershoot with Drexina Nelson I was stoked!!! I knew of her and had always wanted to work with her I came in to fill in for someone that one day, and I have also been working with her ever since. I have been blessed to establish relationship with people who were already well-known and respected in this industry so being the “new girl”, and being connected so fast to the likes of Derek Blanks, Allen Cooley, Drexina Nelson, doing all these celebrities with Kontrol, etc really made people pay more attention to me I think. Probably because it was like who is this new girl and how is she working with “them” already!?!? Because all of these photographers are very selective with who they bring in on their teams, but most makeup artists would love to be apart of those teams.
KONROL Magazine Covers
Kevin Hart Pretty Ricky Ray J
Teairra Mari Dawn Richards Diamond
4. Have you ever wanted to give up being a makeup artist and do something else?
No. I honestly haven’t. I haven’t always dreamed of being a makeup artist my whole life or anything, I actually didn’t decided to do it as a career until my Senior year in college. That happened to be the same year I moved to Atlanta, and the same year I did the powershoot that connected me to everyone I mentioned above. So you see it happened so fast its what I like to call “Favor”. To fully answer your question though, I’m an artist in every sense of the word. I just want to create and inspire makeup just happened to be my outlet of choice for now, and I’m happy with that. I fell in love with makeup in the 7 th grade, and I don’t see us breaking up soon. Although I do see myself taking my brand and expanding it into something so greater. I have been teaming up with Philantropist/ Photographer Darnell Willburn working on a beautiful project with him, and about to start moving forward with my own movement with the help of Allen, Drexina and Darnell my ideas are really being encouraged ….So stay on the lookout…
5. I will admit I was kind of jealous that you recently went to South Africa and Australia to work, tell us about that trip.
I’ll go so far as saying my visit to Africa was life changing. I have never been so inspired in my life by a place. It was like something just clicked inside of me. I’ve always dreamed of starting a movement to inspire, uplift, culture, educate, promote individuality, positive thinking and entrepreneurship, but being there just opened me up. It just inspired me to stop waiting on the perfect opportunity to do what’s on my heart and to just start now, and that’s beautiful to me. Because the things I have planned in the future, are going to be amazing. Africa inspired me to just start now! It is such a beautiful place. I would love to spend a few years of my life living there. No other place I have ever been has made me feel like that! It just feels good to be able to get out here and see the world. Australia was amazing as well absolutely beautiful, but no place has touched me like the motherland.
6. Is there anything that you want people to know about who Mel Hunter is as a person as and artist ?
“I’m just an artist! who is evolving, I express myself through my hair,I am inspired by powerful words, art, music & culture and I am absolutely in love with what I do and the woman Im becoming” – Melanesia
For more of Melanesia’s work go to www.melanesiahunter.com
Follow her on Twitter: Melansia_