Fatou Hassan, 29, can make actors appear sick, old or injured using makeup. She talks to Wambui Thimba
How did you end up doing make-up?
I entered the field purely out of interest. I was working in the wardrobe department of a television production shoot, when the late Hassan Mbaruk handed me a brush and palate and encouraged me to try applying make-up on an actress. Much to our surprise, I managed to successfully do her make-up.
Seeing my potential, Hassan took me under his wing — directing, teaching and guiding me to what has now turned out to be my profession!
What does the job entail?
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I visually transform people using makeup, paint and other accessories to prepare them for photo shoots, filming, live performances and special events. I work in many different environments including television, film and theatre.
What are your main responsibilities while working?
Fatou doing what she does best
Being a make-up artist can mean different things depending on clients. My responsibilities are varied and may involve recommending products to individuals.
Fatou doing what she does best
When working in the entertainment industry, I apply make-up to actors on film sets and in television studios or to stage performers.
My duties involve consulting with other members of the crew to determine the desired effect, which influences the choice of make-up. I then do a research of the best available make-up. Depending on the project, I may use special effects to make an actor appear sick, injured, younger or older.
As a professional in the film industry, I generally work for long hours. I must be available throughout filming for touch-ups and to help actors remove make-up at the end of the day.
Did you have to study to acquire your skills?
I have studied some courses specifically aimed at this line of work. I have acquired a lot of experience through working under the tutelage of renowned make-up artists like Barbara Wanda of South Africa and the late Hassan Mbaruk, one of Kenya’s first professional make-up artists. Experience I obtained from a beauty school in Uganda also sharpened my interest and skills.
What kind of make-up do you do?
I do special effects makeup with live models or structures, applying make-up and or prosthetics for a theatrical effect. I also do makeup for TV commercials, billboards and movies.
Apart from entertainment make-up, I help people get ready for special occasions such as weddings, dinner parties, awards ceremonies and beauty pageants.
Finally, I teach individuals how to wear make-up and guide them on the products that are most suited to their lifestyle and needs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Seeing the effect and transformation my hands create. Make-up brings out the best in people by emphasising their natural beauty and boosting their confidence. This is not only rewarding for me, but has a powerful positive effect on how people feel about themselves. It makes them feel good and this makes me happy.
What are some of the challenges you face?
My biggest challenge is convincing clients that a certain look is better than the one they are used to. I have worked with clients who are afraid to try something different.
How do you get clients?
Some people see my work and contract my services. Others hear about me from friends or colleagues who refer them to me. Mostly, however, I maintain my clients and work them on different jobs.
What is the highlight of your career so far and what are your achievements?
Well, so far I have been honoured to work with celebrities and prominent personalities. I have also worked with top shows such as the Magic Makeover and the Big For Fun show, TV commercials and local series like Shuga, Siri and Shida. All these have enabled me to grow, meet people from different walks of life and learn a lot, for which I am very grateful.