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Renowned Mac Cosmetics Makeup Artist Explains Why Taking The Risk On A Creative Career Was A Win

By Shantel Holder · October 21, 2019

For women in the Black community, there’s always been extra pressure for us to be 10 steps ahead, especially when it comes to our careers. For some, the straight and narrow path to success is not what’s in the stars, and that’s okay!

Our magic tends to include being multifaceted Jills-of-all-trades, which can make it hard to pinpoint which lane to pursue. But never fret, the moment your true calling reveals itself, anything that has ever felt out of place will align. 

Fatima Thomas, Senior National Makeup Artist at MAC Cosmetics, told ESSENCE’s The Color Files podcast the story of discovering her passion – makeup artistry.

Growing up, Fatima had always had a creative spirit. Just like so many of us, she recalls early memories of playing in her mother’s makeup and clothes (and wigs!). 

“I was always interested in fashion and beauty and how humans adorn ourselves and dress ourselves for the world.”

Though her path may have seemed clear from the start, Fatima initially decided to pursue a career as Fashion Designer. Luckily, she had parents that supported her artistic dreams and made clear to her that being happy was just as important as being successful. Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor, lawyer, or teacher.

“Nobody’s guidance counselor tells you to go to FIT or to go to even cosmetology school because you have a knack for something. And probably a lot of people’s parents would be angry if your guidance counselor did tell you that.”

In college, Fatima hit a burn-out phase, which resulted in her taking an extended break. On the brink of re-enrolling in some courses, a conversation with an intuitive friend completely changed her course of action. Sometimes, your blessing comes through when you least expect it!

”She was like, ‘Why don’t you just become a makeup artist?’ And I tell you, it was a revelatory moment. The clouds literally opened up and the sun shone down on me and I said, ‘Oh my goodness, duh!’”

Now, Fatima is 22-years into her career with MAC and still a woman of many creative hats. Her role allows her to flex many of her skills – working with celebrity clients, educating colleagues and clients, and even writing and editing – and she’s amazing at them all.

Fatima offered some sound advice for anyone who is still going through the motions.

“Life is a series of cycles with challenges along every course of the cycle, but all of those challenges help you get better and better emotionally, hopefully, psychologically and professionally, skill-wise. So you got to be resilient.”

Check out the full episode, featuring Fatima Thomas, on The Color Files below: