2023 NAACP Image Awards: Behind The Brushes With Makeup Artist Angie Wells | News

Angie Wells, the head of the makeup department in the film adaptation of Cheaper by the Dozen, has received recognition for her work with a nomination for an NAACP Image Award. With a long list of over 100 credits in both television and film, she has been recognized for her work in various productions, including the highly acclaimed Promising Young Woman and Mudbound, as well as popular TV shows like black-ish. Her impressive body of work has earned her two Emmy Award nominations, two nominations from the MUAHS Guild Awards, and one nomination from the HCA Awards.

In Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Gabrielle Union, Zach Braff, and Erika Christensen, Wells’ years of experience were put to the test as she created a diverse range of looks for a large cast of characters. Wells is eager to discuss how she approached the design of the makeup looks, taking into account factors such as the actors’ ages and personalities to help bring the characters to life.

Wells sat down with BET to discuss her career ahead of the 2023 NAACP Image Awards.

BET.com: We often hear Black entertainers lament the lack of Black makeup artists on set, have you had any experiences where you’ve felt “seen” by them?

Angie Wells: I have had experiences where I have sometimes literally seen eyes light up or the look of happy surprise when Black actors/entertainers enter the trailer, particularly when I have been the Department Head on racially mixed shows with a predominantly white cast.

BET.com: How do you keep up with trends in makeup artistry and how does your process change as a result?

Angie Wells: There are several ways. I go out to the stores and see what’s new. You can also see what is trending in the world of social media. I still read fashion magazines as well. I will also ask other artists what they like that is new.

BET.com: How do you develop different looks when your cast has significant diversity like in the film Cheaper by the Dozen for which you’re nominated for a 2023 NAACP Image Award?

Angie Wells: I research and design the character’s looks based on the storyline and the character description. Cheaper By The Dozen is a contemporary film, so I knew I needed to make the looks current. Once I read the script and saw the characters’ descriptions, I based my makeup designs on that. For example, Deja starts as a tomboy, but once she becomes attracted to one of the boys at her new school, she begins to wear makeup and more feminine clothing. So I started out with an almost no makeup look for her character at the beginning of the storyline. I then glammed her up with a little more glow to her skin, shimmering shadows, more blush, a slightly heavier lash, and a glossier lip to soften her look.

BET.com: Is your preparation for film different from television? If so, how?

Angie Wells: I generally have more prep time for film and work more closely with the director than on television. On TV, the directors often change per episode so you work with them and the showrunner when creating looks for an episode or a television movie.

In film, the director really plays an active role in the look of the characters. I meet with them and discuss the script, and I present them with photos, images etc., and they choose what they like. Then, I go back and decide what is needed to create the look they desire.

In film, the images are much larger and there’s less room for error. Unless a character is supposed to look “made up” we work to make them look natural, especially as it relates to the look of the skin. It can’t look too matte or shiny, and the foundation can’t look like it is sitting on top of the skin. Eyebrows need to look like hair and not solid blocks of color. Contouring and highlighting can’t be obvious. When choosing products for a film, I look for products that will enhance but not overtake the character’s look.

Since the onset of high definition in TV and film, blending and proper color selection are a must. There is also a fine balance between seeing the makeup and seeing the skin.

BET.com: What advice would you give young people who have a passion for makeup and are interested in pursuing it professionally in entertainment?

Angie Wells: Go to a legitimate makeup school and take a course for Professional Makeup Artists. Decide if you are interested in print, film, TV, or theater. Are you interested in beauty, FX, or both? Do you want to be a department head? Then, find someone whose work you admire. Reach out to them or other artists you admire for mentorship. Having a mentor is very important and extremely helpful. They can give you guidance and sometimes connect you with others.

If you want to work in film or TV you definitely need to know some basic FX makeup in order to make yourself a more valuable asset. It is also essential to learn to work with all skin colors.

You should learn how to read the room. Pay attention to the atmosphere you are working in. If you notice the actors are quiet in the trailer, that might not be the time to start playing loud music. A valuable piece of advice I received when I started was to “know where you fit on the food chain.” In other words, understand your position and where you fit into the scheme of things.

My final bit of advice would be to just learn your craft really well and always be open to learning more.

BET.com: You’re also an accomplished jazz singer. Doing makeup and singing are both creative pursuits that require a lot of time, effort, and energy. How do you balance them both?

Angie Wells: It can be a challenge for sure. They both require my creativity and definitely require time. I have tried to balance them by making time for both. For example, in the years I knew I was going to tour in the summer, I would take makeup jobs that ended in the spring so I could leave the summer open for touring and vice versa.

I took a lot of time off in 2022 to work on my current project, which will be released on February 24th. I am really excited about it as it is produced by the legendary John Clayton, and I have some of LA’s best jazz musicians with me on the project. The project contains some original tunes, and the title track has a lot to say.