Melissa Street’s longstanding love for makeup didn’t begin in the most typical way. While for many teenagers the crush happened in a mall’s beauty counter or flipping through fashion magazines, for Melissa it was while admiring monster masks and sci-fi artifacts. Her friend’s father was a special effects makeup artist, and, as a fan of horror movies, she loved spending time admiring all the magic he created in his laboratory. She soon realized that she wanted to pursue a career as a special effects makeup artist. In her early career, she had the opportunity to be an assistant on two of the most important sci-fi movies of all time, Terminator and Aliens, but then she quickly realized that she was in a very male-dominated industry. She decided that if she wanted to truly make it, she would have to start working with traditional beauty as well. Melissa pioneered the use of HD camera makeup and became one of the most experienced and versatile professionals in her field. She has worked on different movie sets and major television shows and networks, including E!, ESPN, Larry King Live, Miss Universe and Miss USA. Her experience in special effects always has come in handy… Read on to learn more about this beauty extraordinaire’s fascinating career.
How did you react to the quick rise in popularity of the HD camera?
About six years ago, HD television started with the introduction of the RED camera. Great for viewers at home, not so much for the actors on screen. High definition is extremely unforgiving. The makeup looks very harsh, some cameras pull out the redness in a person’s face, and pimples and rosacea will show even with coverage. I had to learn what products worked and how to use them while the industry was increasingly converting to the technology. My experience in special effects gave me a unique advantage because I knew how to use products that could handle the scrutiny of such an invasive camera.
Which products helped you adapt?
There are certain products I love using on my clients. Jouer Cosmetics is an amazing line. I like the luminizing tinted moisturizer, and I use the matte version on men. Another recurrent tool is the Temptu Airbrush kit. The silicone based formula gives flawless coverage and it is not noticeable on camera. Concealers from OCC are also great, but very pigmented, so you need to know how to use them in real life. I would say Jouer is definitely useable in real life, so is Senna Cosmetics, another one of my favorites. Created by Bette Midler’s makeup artist, Eugena Weston, Senna has a nice range of BB creams, foundations, cream blushes and color palettes. It translates very well with consumers. I love using products in different ways. I use Talika’s eyelash extender on beards and eyebrows to darken grays and make hair longer and curlier.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Being in the television industry, I work with everyone from actors to everyday people. One thing about TV is it moves fast, I have be very quick and able to adapt. When I worked on Larry King Live, celebrities would always show up with some makeup on from previous appearances. All makeup artists can attest that it’s best to work with a blank slate. Stars would come in with glittery makeup on, which is extremely unforgiving on camera. I would have to work around what was already done, removing and blending it. In movies, directors constantly change their visions, and what they want their characters to look like, so you have to be on your toes as well.
What do you enjoy most your career? Any defining moments?
I absolutely adored working with James Earl Jones…yes, Darth Vader. He was so humble, generous and kind. Who would have thought that Darth Vader would have no ego? The people I have met throughout my career have played a major role in making my job so rewarding. My colleague, Cathi Singh, started out as my assistant and we love learning from each other. We work so well together, sharing tips and tricks, and experimenting with new products.
What are you up to right now? Any new projects?
I am working on launching an iPhone beauty app with my colleague, Kim Greene, who has worked on movies such as Scream 4 and Identity Thief. We also co-created a YouTube channel with beauty tips, Greenestreetbeauty.
You can connect with Melissa on Pampadour!