“We’re “celebrating” the re-launch of The Modern Bee with some more quality time with Debi Young (you can check out the first part of our conversation here). Without further adieu, here is part two of our heart-to-heart with this glorious woman.” -Michaela
Your filmography is wonderfully rich and expansive and includes both films and televisions shows with contemporary, historical and fantasy settings. What draws you to particular projects and are there any specific challenges depending on the genre?
I am very grateful to have such a rich and expansive filmography! I am generally requested or recommended for a project. I always say that God is my agent and all my projects come from Him. I believe in doing the best job because I have been afforded the opportunity…and that always leads me to the next project! I love working in all genres, because it keeps me on my toes and I never get bored. Although I can push my creativity in all genres, I especially love historical period projects! I love doing the research and recreating the looks of that era.
There are many variables that can cause special challenges in any genre with makeup: The weather, is it hot or cold? Are we attaching any facial hair or prosthetics? Did the teeth in the prosthetic mouthpiece just break in half? Did someone just drop the contact lens and now cannot find it? We can’t have shiny white veneers during the Civil War when you were not able to brush your teeth on the battlefield! What is the amount and type of activity in the scene? Are we adding perspiration or trying to keep them dry? Will the actor be under water or in a desert sandstorm? Will they be naked or will the amount of clothing they have to wear affect the makeup? I have to be prepared for all of the variables!
Beyond reading the scripts to get a sense of the plot and characters, what else do you need to do to prepare for those actors to be in your make-up chair?
After reading the script and breaking down each character, there may be specific things that I might have to set up for the actor, to help them realize the character they are portraying. It could be sending them to an optometrist for measurements, a dentist or a MUFX LAB to have casts made of their likeness to build a new set of teeth, contact lenses, or create prosthetics that would change their features. I could be setting up spray tan sessions to change their skin color, or salon body treatments, if there is a nude scene. I have even made an organic mouth blood from scratch for a pregnant actress, who was concerned for the health of her infant and ingesting commercial makeup blood.
Additionally and more importantly, the Makeup and Hair trailer is where the film day begins for cast. As the Makeup Department Head, it is imperative that I set the tone to provide an environment that is professional, positive, welcoming and conducive for the cast to begin the transformation and leave happy, prepared and in the right state of mind so that they can execute the role they are portraying.
The film and television industry is notoriously nomadic; what do you do to create a sense of home when on location?
When I am on location, I fly home EVERY weekend no matter where I am working! My family gives me my essence for life! I don’t get much rest, but I am overflowing with love, when I return to work! However, I do try to create a sense of home, whether I am in an apartment or hotel room. Sometimes purchasing rugs, candles, art and other decor, all of which I can use in my real home. I describe it as elevating my space!!
One of my favorite poems is Song of Myself by Walt Whitman and it contains the line, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” I’ve always taken this as a reminder that as humans, we are meant to have different layers to us and it can certainly be ok to contradict ourselves; we’re ultimately a different tapestry of threads and directions, it’s what makes us each interesting and unique. Are there any ways that you contradict yourself? How do you not define yourself by what you “do,” which is so commonly done, and more by who you are as a person?
I am certain that I have contradicted myself and peeled back the layers over the years and definitely define myself as a people loving, optimistic, walking to my own drumbeat, well-rounded, multi-faceted, still becoming person. I am so comfortable with with my authentic self and there is nothing more liberating than being completely honest and confident with who you are, flaws and all…and knowing what is really important in the scheme of life. I have always loved being a professional makeup artist! As much as I love what I do, it is a very tiny fraction of who I am.
I have a whole, big, full life, outside of the film industry; rich with love! My family is everything to me and I am so very grateful to be a mother, daughter, wifey, MiMi, sister, auntie, niece, cousin and friend. I am so incredibly blessed and thank God everyday because He allows me…to just be all of me and there is no amount of money that could equal, what I have!
In a world of possibilities, what would you do with your life if failure wasn’t an option? What advice would you give your younger self just starting out or yourself at a trying time in the past that you’ve since overcome?
I would be a philanthropist, to make sure every person had food, a home and the best education…especially children. The advice that I would tell my younger self is things happen FOR you and not TO you. I would say to myself to simply pray and ask God to give me what He wants me to have, because what He wants for me is more than I could ever imagine. Lastly, I probably would not do anything differently, because all of my experiences in the past, good or bad have helped me learn the above lessons and have shaped me into the person I am today.
What traits do you value most in your circle of friends? What traits do you most value in yourself?
The traits that I value the most in my friends, are the same that I value in myself! Honesty, integrity, kindness, compassion, generosity, humor, strong work ethic, fairness and empathy.
And lastly, a rapid fire questions. Where do you stand on: Coffee or tea? Tea. Cook or order in? Cook. Early bird or night owl? Early bird. Road trip or plane trip? Plane. Must-have make-up item? Concealer.
You never know what city she’ll be in, but you can keep up with Debi over on Instagram, where she shares behind-the-scenes photos of cool transformations from her various projects and honestly, glimpses of her own smile which never fail to make me (and hopefully you) smile, too.