By Tammy Reese
We are thrilled to celebrate NYWIFT Member Asha Smith, who recently was an additional makeup artist for the film The Perfect Find, starring Gabrielle Union, Janet Hubert, Alani “La La” Anthony, and more. The film recently premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.
A student of art and photography, Asha Smith mastered an early understanding of light and shadow, texture and shape. Asha first began experimenting with the transformative power of makeup on her photographed subjects. She began to see the human face as her canvas, and makeup as a tool to create art on the canvas.
Asha’s love of photography sparked an interest in film, and she ultimately earned a degree in filmmaking. Finding the on-set demands of character analysis, maintaining film continuity, and collaborating with a creative team the most fascinating areas of film production, Asha incorporated her love of art and the transformative nature of makeup artistry into her love of film production.
She finds the personal interaction involved with makeup artistry — as well as the collaborative aspects and immediate satisfaction she receives from the work — a bigger draw than other creative mediums. In addition to film and television, Asha regularly works in beauty and fashion.
Asha spoke to us about her experience on The Perfect Find, and her philosophical approach to her work.
What inspired you to become a makeup artist?
Becoming a makeup artist was a natural progression of my training in photography and media studies. I get to use all of my artistic training as a makeup artist — especially in the production spaces. I utilize all of the studio art techniques that I learned as a college Art Major while simultaneously incorporating all of the production knowledge I gained while studying Media and Production in graduate school.
Plus, being an artist is both tactile and technical at the same time and I love that.
How was your experience working on The Perfect Find?
I had a fun time working on The Perfect Find. I was brought in as a day player by one of my mentors D’Angelo Thompson and was tasked with creating and maintaining looks for background talent. I knew one of the other artists helping BG that day (Charles Zambrano) and I met some artists that I hadn’t known before — but who turned out to be very cool. Crafty was also very decent!
We were shooting an outdoor scene — so it was an “overnight” which means call time was 6:30 PM and wrap was around 5 AM or so the next morning. It was summertime when we were filming, so while it was a little humid — at least we weren’t cold!
Who were some of your favorite people to work with on set and why?
So, I must mention D’angelo Thompson again because he is largely responsible for helping me start my career in production as a makeup artist. I love working with him!
Also on set was another one of my friends, Frank Guyton — who was working with the main talent — but who hugged me so tight once we were all outside for the exterior shots. It was the first time that we had seen each other since the pandemic started and it was just so good to see each other. I also met Monica Boyd-Lester for the first time, and I loved working with her as well.
Why did you become a NYWIFT member and what do you enjoy most about the organization?
I became a member of NYWIFT because I value being part of a community of women in the film and production community. I also like the knowledge base that NYWIFT has and the networking and learning opportunities available to NYWIFT members. I’ve been a member for a number of years and plan to continue!
What else are you currently working on?
Hmm…I don’t really broadcast what I’m doing until it’s done. I will say that often, I am the only HMU on set because I often do commercial work or smaller indie productions. I tend not to discuss any major talent that I work with — so, I will probably never be known as a “celebrity artist” because I won’t necessarily frame my work that way. But more power to the artists that do.
I will say that I’m planning a rebranding or refresh this summer and will be working on my website, and various social media and other media platforms to showcase newer work. Stay tuned!
What is a piece of advice you would have for aspiring makeup artists?
Be brave. Take chances — but don’t be desperate. Also, speak up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no — some jobs are not worth the hassle, especially when you sense any disrespect or dishonesty surrounding the situation.
Finally, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” as my grandmother always used to tell me. I think the common wisdom used to be that one had to dedicate oneself to the profession 200% to the exclusion of all else — but I think the pandemic taught everyone that is probably not the wisest strategy. It’s a different time and reality these days.
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