At a Flying Star in downtown Albuquerque, I grab a latte and wait to talk to one of the city’s newest arrivals. It seems a fitting venue to talk with her about being a makeup artist to the stars. Outside these four walls, the streets are lined with movie trailers that are closing up shop for the day. On the second level there are actors running lines for the “next greatest thing” shooting here in town. Luckily the downstairs is sparsely filled for 3 in the afternoon, so talking will be easy.
Janine is from Long Island, a cosmetologist in the Big Apple. Some of you, like myself, might wonder what a girl like her is doing in a town like this. The short answer is Fate.
About a year ago, while managing a cosmetic counter by day and doing makeup for photo shoots and movies by night, Janine decided she needed a change. Born and raised a New Yorker, she hesitated to leave the city and her grandparents behind. While assessing her life to make a change, she experienced the tragic loss of her grandfather. She temporarily put her search for meaning on hold when she received another shock at his funeral. Her grandmother was moving to New Mexico to live with family members. To her surprise, she felt free to leave Long Island. In a moment of liberation, she asked her family how far Albuquerque was from Austin, Texas – a place she had been considering for a while.
She made a phone call to a longtime friend who lived in Austin to find out more about what it was like. This was her chance to start her life fresh and spend more time working on her dream, not just her survival. He mentioned she should really consider New Mexico. With the tax breaks and successful shows filming in the area, it might be just what she was looking for. That was the motivation she needed. She headed out to visit her family in Rio Rancho and investigate the neighborhood. Shortly after her return home, she packed up and relocated out west.
She can’t stop smiling when she talks about her good fortune and the wonderful people she has met since moving here. “The community here is so open and friendly. Everyone is so supportive,” she raves.
When asked about what she likes best about her job, she bubbles over about the creative freedom her job allows. She is an artist to the core with a love for all mediums, but her first love will always be using the face as a canvas, especially when she gets to create fictitious symptoms and a fictional disease. She worked on a film where she was able to decide what the effects of a deadly nanovirus would look like on its victims. Among other gruesome symptoms, the infected character sweated blood.
On another occasion she worked with contestants in a costume contest sponsored by a tequila company. She convinced her lovely lady to have her makeup done like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, who was there. Her contestant won hands down.
Thanks to her day spent working on that contest, she was asked to help Snider and his family shoot an Indie film with third graders as the stars. “It was amazing to work with him (Dee) and his family. They are creative geniuses. If there was anyone I would drop everything for and fly back to New York to help, it would be the Snider family”.
When asked how little Hollywood in New Mexico compares to the Big Apple she says there is no comparison. Albuquerque has given her the sense of peace in her heart she has been looking for. Since arriving in town, she has been doing makeup for everything from photo shoots to movies to donating her spare time to help worthy causes (low budget indie projects). She will forever be grateful to the friend who told her Albuquerque is the place to be. She misses New York from time to time, especially her friends and family, but she is making new memory here in her new home.
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