Plus, his sparkly beauty forecast for 2017.
Who could forget Whitney Houston's showstopping turn in The Bodyguard? Alongside Kevin Costner, the late singer and actress solidified her icon status while playing the glamourous Rachel Marron, who falls in love with the phlegmatic man (Frank Farmer) protecting her.
It's been almost 25 years since the film's debut and yet, its legacy endures. So much so, that a stage version starring Deborah Cox is full steam ahead with a national tour kicking off in 2017.
A powerhouse singer in her own right, seeing Cox take on classics like "I Have Nothing" and "I'll Always Love You" was more exciting than nerve wracking when we got to preview the show at Paper Mill Playhouse. Trust us: she does not disappoint.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the '90s classic is Marron's divalicious look, which included plenty of hairstyles and of course, flawless makeup. It takes a seasoned expert to recreate such glamour, but Jay Manuel was up for the challenge.
The makeup artist, who grew up going to the theater (Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera were his first shows) was tasked with bringing Rachel Marron into the new Millenium without sacrificing the aesthetic that made her so glamourous back in the '90s.
Using his Jay Manuel Beauty line exclusively, Manuel decided to step away from traditionally extreme theater makeup and instead, create looks that are truer to real life.
"Heavy 'pancake' stage makeup was developed to cover anything, be sweat proof, but it wasn’t an ideal product for daily use and tended to clog skin," he told ESSENCE during intermission at the Papermill performance. "Today’s theater technology allows Art Directors to light exactly what they need creatively for the production."
So, after consulting with Cox (who is also a close friend), he decided on a core set of hero products that make brown skin look lit in the best way possible.
"My Skin Perfector Foundation is perfect for stage performers," says Manuel of the Black girl-approved formula. "It’s a 'one and done' product with a primer built in, it’s long wearing with oily or sweaty skin and it perfects the skin with my Filter Finish Collection ingredients."
Sadly, JM Beauty is one of the few makeup lines that doesn't merely utilize "diversity" as a buzz word; it's in the brand's DNA. As a seasoned expert in his field, Manuel's years of experience with women of varying backgrounds is what makes his products so inclusive.
"We are witnessing an interesting time where the face of beauty is changing every moment," he adds. "Social media has played a huge role in allowing the consumer to define what beauty means to them. The cosmetic companies are no longer dictating what trend is… the consumer does."
And with an ever changing beauty landscape comes temporary trends that we love today and let go of tomorrow. Manuel tells ESSENCE there is one he predicts will make it to 2017: metallics!
"I think we’re entering a time where people want to experiment more with expressing themselves. Playing with color is one thing, but I notice metallics are becoming more mainstream and popular," he says. "Both my Ultimate Pencil in 'Foil' and '24K' have recently become very popular - they are a true metallic that glides onto the skin without tugging or a faded dry application."
Bring on the sparkle! Reserve your seat for The Bodyguard Musical here.