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Painting faces: A day in the life of a makeup artist

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

By Kelly Skjerven

Photo Credit: Nick Pimenoff


Milena Iaizzo starts her morning barefooted.

After an hour or two at Corus Entertainment she pulls a pair of runners out of her bag and slips them on. Good footwear is a must when you’re always on your feet, as a makeup artist for national news show.

Nearly five years ago, she was working retail at Make Up For Ever when a customer came in looking confused.

Iaizzo approached her asking if she needed any help, like she would any customer. The customer mentioned she was having difficulty matching someone’s complexion and didn’t know much about this brand, but noticed that all the younger makeup artists were using it.

Iaizzo offered her advice on the products and the customer began asking about Iaizzo’s training.

Around eight years ago, Iaizzo began school at John Casablancas Institute in Vancouver. She won a scholarship through the school by submitting her portfolio in a contest. The program lasted 10 months and was full time, Monday to Friday, nine to five.

“I loved it,” Iaizzo expressed.

Iaizzo enjoyed her time at Make Up For Ever and was even sent on two trips to New York City to attend makeup classes.

“They taught me things that I still use to this day,” she said.

The customer continued to ask about Iaizzo’s training and showed interest in attending the Make Up For Ever Academy in New York City.

Iaizzo offered to teach the customer about the brand and show her some techniques. It was a much cheaper option, she stated.

The customer happily took up the offer and asked Iaizzo to come to her work the following Monday. She mentioned she worked at Global News.

“A lot of stuff is who you know,” Iaizzo says. “But you can know someone and not connect, or not make a good impression. I don’t think it’s all about who you know, it’s about who you are as a person”

Five years later, and Iaizzo is now a full time makeup artist for the morning show and the noon show at Global News.

Around 8 a.m. on a Thursday, a number of guests are sitting on the couches in a large room, their faces glowing from their cellphones in the dim light. The room smells like pancakes as Nathan Shields cooks pancakes on a flat grill for a pancake art segment airing later on the show.

The chatter in the room is light, as guests interact with each other. Iaizzo is in a smaller room off to the side with a big chair and mirror. Multiple eyeshadow palettes are spread out across the table as well as blushes, powders and other makeup items. The chair resembles a seat in a barber shop, with red leather, a footrest and a removable headrest.

Iaizzo brings guests into the room from time to time to touch up their makeup. Anyone who works in TV—especially live TV—knows that time is of the essence.

One guest only lasted about a minute or two in the makeup room before Iaizzo had to politely ask her to come back later as another guest had just arrived and he was on air sooner.

Iaizzo mentions that today is slower than usual. Other days may be more chaotic.

Earlier in the morning, there was much more for her to do. She typically arrives at Corus Entertainment around 4:45 a.m. Within 10 minutes of her arrival, the female anchor, Carolyn MacKenzie, is in the big red chair ready to get her makeup done.

MacKenzie gets a full face of makeup and needs to be in her morning meeting by 5:15 a.m. Iaizzo’s job is all about time and staying on schedule is extremely important, she notes.

“Luckily for me, Carolyn’s beautiful,” Iaizzo compliments the anchor and they share a tired laugh. After all, it is still five in the morning.

Iaizzo and MacKenzie have a close relationship, sharing light jokes and compliments. Iaizzo praises MacKenzie’s ability to juggle the morning show and being a mom. She doesn’t have kids, but says she does want them eventually.

Over an hour of time goes by and someone knocks on the door to let MacKenzie know it’s time for her meeting. MacKenzie rushes off and Iaizzo picks up a blush palette and brush and follows her to the meeting room.

While the producers and anchors are discussing the segments and topics for the morning, Iaizzo is crouching next to MacKenzie who is sitting on a couch, applying a light pink blush to her cheeks.

After the meeting the two male anchors come by the makeup room. They only need light face makeup.

They share conversations about what they made for dinner the previous night, whether they’ll work out later, and about the cold weather that’s recently hit Toronto.

MacKenzie rushes in and changes her outfit. Iaizzo helps her pick out a necklace to complement her royal blue blouse and black and white blazer. They both sift through a tray with an assortment of jewelry and settle for a short necklace with diamond studs and a gold chain. They fiddle with the length, with Iaizzo doing up the clasp for her.

Fifteen minutes after the show begins, Iaizzo finally gets to sit down and start applying her own makeup from a personal bag she brought from home. Today she’s wearing black athletic leggings, a mesh long sleeve top, and fuzzy black cardigan.

Every once in a while she pops onto the set in-between shoots to touch up the anchor’s makeup.

Iaizzo works as a freelance makeup artist as well, booking events such as headshots, photoshoots, commercials, weddings, and other celebrations. One of her future aspirations is to work on big magazine photoshoot or with a popular celebrity with an extensive budget.

“Ideally if I could, I’d get to do crazy fashion shoots. That’d be a dream of mine,” Iaizzo lights up as she expresses her dream of being able to stretch her artistic ability.

Her day usually ends around 12:30 p.m. after finishing makeup for the afternoon show anchors. She has a desk upstairs with a computer, where she usually spends the last bit of her day answering emails and keeping up with administrative work.

Oh, and a main perk about her job? Iaizzo laughs about avoiding the crazy Toronto morning rush hour traffic as she leaves her house nearly four hours before it begins.


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