The Business of Beauty

Marlee Matlin's look for the Academy Awards. Photo by Brett Freedman.

Oh, how social media has changed things since I moved to Hollywood in 1996. 

Getting an actress ready for an event used to take two hours and afterwards you’d go home or out to dinner. The next morning you’d wait to see the red carpet coverage on the morning shows. If you created a look that captured the imagination of style columnists or beauty editors, you’d wait for your phone to ring for a quote or short interview about your inspirations and the products that you used. It was a very passive ‘Let’s see if anyone bites‘ vibe.

Those days are gone. With Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, everyone is the editor of their very own style magazine. Photos and cleverness are paramount. The glamers and starlets coming up now are very experienced at creating content. They definitely have an edge. Being in my 50’s it’s been a learning curve.

I’m a talented makeup artist, yes.

Am I so good at taking photos, polishing up photos, shooting videos and creating eye catching captions? Undecided, but I will say I actually enjoy this new part a lot.

Back when I was starting, my agent would put together my portfolio which meant they decided how I’m presented. If a photographer or actress wants to see my work now they ask for my Instagram. They also want a ‘vibe’ of the person behind the makeup brush.  With social media I get to curate my own voice. Older actresses I work with who had kept parts of their personal life secret to “remain a mystery” now have to transition to giving a little glimpse into their day-to-day lives. I like to say my social media feed is personable not personal.

Screenshot of People.com

Lots of beauty, tips and red carpet…but also a dollop of my favorite restaurants, my puppy and marriage. It’s a delicate balance. My followers are 100% more interested in the famous faces I work with and not what I had for breakfast. So, when I prepared to glam Marlee Matlin for the this year’s Academy Awards, we built in time for “getting ready” shots and the final reveal pics. It helps everyone. What actress doesn’t like some ink in the beauty and style realm? The style team benefits from the extra exposure. It’s all organic-ish and interesting.

When I was a little gay boy growing up in Monroeville, I loved any insights into the behind-the-scenes in Hollywood. I work harder now than before at an age where I feel like things should get easier. I’m not ruffled over it, though. I love my career. I’m lucky to be able to do what I do at the level I’m doing it. I want to keep working, be relevant, and thrive. I’m hell bent on not being the dinosaur that moans that the world and rules have changed. I get comfortable outside my comfort zone. If I need to figure out how to edit a transition on TikTok, I go on YouTube and a 15 year old girl in Kansas shows me how. 

enjoy pretty.

Brett is a Pittsburgh native and works with some of the world's most beautiful and famous women as a make-up artist. Known for his crisp, high glamour style, Brett's client roster ranges from young, punky pop stars to ladylike living legends. Before starting his own cosmetics line (Brett Glam) in 2007, Brett had deals with Revlon, Neutrogena and Pantene just to name a few. Get a glimpse of his glammy life (and nab a few makeup tips!) with his buzzy Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. (He / Him / His)