When it comes to getting red carpet ready, having any ole’ makeup artist just won’t do. Celebrities on the A-list often enlist the help of the best of the best; industry veterans who have a long list of clients and some serious beauty chops. We caught up with Ashunta Sheriff, Taraji P. Henson’s gal pal and go-to person for all things beauty. Ashunta’s responsible for all of Taraji’s red carpet looks, and she’s also the mastermind behind the beauty looks of Lyon’s Dynasty’s leading lady, Ms. Cookie Lyon. When it comes to makeup, Ashunta is definitely a veteran in the game. Wtih an industry heavyweight like Pat McGrath as a mentor, it’s no wonder she’s managed to master the art of a flawless face, and even found the time launch a beauty line under her own namesake, Ashunta Sheriff Beauty. She’s had her fair share of red carpets, so we caught up with her to get the scoop on how she prepares, where she finds inspiration and the most memorable beauty blunders form her rookie years.
ESSENCE:How do you prepare for red carpet season?
ASHUNTA SHERIFF: For a carpet season I prepared by organizing make it. I didn’t have my system and make a list of whatever products that I would like to use on my clients to reach out to various product lines as well as shop and get the kit fully restocked and ready. I also look at all the shows from the season prior and see what the trends are I also like in magazines and do research with looks and I compile A folder of looks. This way I am fully prepared for whatever my clients may want to try or do for award season.
ESSENCE: What’s the most stressful aspect of award season?
SHERIFF: The most stressful aspect of the award season is the running around from place to place. Usually the traffic is very hectic and cities that way so I’m running around trying to make it on time so my clients are on time for their carpets that is extremely stressful.
ESSENCE: What are the must-have items you always keep in your kit?
SHERIFF: My must-have’s are: Ashunta Sheriff Beauty Perfect Blend l, Dior CC Primer Spray, Milani Brow Pomade is affordable and is amazing, Jay Manual Beauy Bronzer, La Prairie Caviar Eye Cream, Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum, Jeffree Star Velvet Matte Lip Creme, Colour POP cosmetics eye shadows and lip Liners are a must, Derma Blend Loose Setting Powder, Melanie Mills Gleam Body Radiance, Bausch+Lomb Sooth Hydration Lubricating Eye Drops, Q-Tips Precision Tips, Tweezerman Perfection Pointed Slant Tweezer, Ardell Glamour Wispies Black Lashes, Model in a Bottle Sensitive Skin Setting Spray and Static Nails are a great —and quick— nail look with art ready to pop on and go!
ESSENCE: As a makeup artist, do you feel compelled to motivate the client, or is your work strictly beauty based?
SHERIFF: I motivate my clients for sure. I tell them to drink more water, have dark leafy veggies or green juices. I tell them that looking good starts from the inside out— it’s all connected and the more you take care of yourself with a nourishing and healthy diet, the better your skin looks. “The glow” I always say, “begins from within.”
ESSENCE: How do you establish chemistry when working with a new client?
SHERIFF: Take my time and determine the temperament of the person—are they quiet or talkative? I take my cues from them and I let my actions move accordingly. I’m always friendly and always loving; that’s just the core part of who I am as a person. They’ll get the friendly me, regardless, but if they’re reserved and conservative,they may not me the crazy funny side of me.hich I’m there to do a job so being a comedian is not necessary. I always take into account that I am there to help the client and provide a service.
ESSENCE: Best makeup/business advice you’ve ever received?
SHERIFF: Follow your passion to make you work your career. You should enjoy what you do; your job should be something that brings you passion, motivation, drive, happiness and growth. My mom has always said, “Don’t do something you like to do—do something you love.” As a make up artist and career woman, I would say the best advice that I’ve been given is to always be kind and nice to everyone because it doesn’t hurt, and it may turn around and be a blessing later on in life.
ESSENCE: What is your best beauty memory from red carpet season?
SHERIFF: My best beauty memory would have to be the Golden Globes 2016 with Taraji P Henson. We had such an amazing time getting ready for the carpet with the entire glam squad. We were listening to chill music, having a glass of champagne and celebrating the moment just being present and excepting where we were in that moment in time. Taraji is not one to seek out accolades and acknowledgement, but she lives her life by being passionate about her craft. So, we were already celebrating before she even won because we are all blessed to do what we love.
ESSENCE: Rookie beauty mistake you made when you made your debut as a celebrity makeup artist?
SHERIFF: Trying to overextend myself was probably my biggest flaw starting in the industry because I just tried to be there for every single job that I could. Sometimes I lost jobs because I was late, couldn’t get there, or had to cancel. I soon realized that I needed to build a schedule that works for me and my life, and that I needed to stick to it instead of trying to appease everyone.
Keep up with AShunta’s busy life by folowing her on Instagram @AshuntaSheriff