March 6, 2014

Industry Speaks: David DeLeon

“I’m not a diva. My work is the diva. Art is bigger than life.” David DeLeon

Last night, Emmy Award winning Make-up Artist David DeLeon, who just wrapped CBS’s The Crazy Ones (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robin Williams, James Wok, Hamish Linklater, Amanda Setton) stopped by MUD Burbank to lend a room-full of students some of his valuable time and words of expertise and wisdom. David was interviewed by MUD’s good friend and colleague, Deverill Weekes.

Q: How did you know that make-up is what you wanted to do?
A: “I would ditch school –now, don’t you ditch school!– and go to the library and read Scavullo on Beauty (by Scavullo, Francesco, Random House, 1978) it’s a beautiful black and white book of “before and afters.” I was enthralled by the transformations.”

Q: How did you get started?
A: “My first celebrity client was Kathy Najimy. I met her assistant at a party—it’s one of those things that happens in this town, a door sort of opens—and she needed a make-up artist for a stage show. And that started the whole thing.”

Q: Who are your heroes?
A: Michael Westmore. Dick Smith, Ve Neil, Todd MCIntosh, Pat McGrath—I am obsessed with her right now. There are so many—I look up to everyone.

Q: Why [are you obsessed with] Pat McGrath?
A: “Because she’s so out-of –the-box with her Avant-Garde make-up, she makes people look ravishing.”

Q: Who are the great make-up artists you’ve worked with and what made them great?
A: “Michael Westmore. He is a great make-up artist and delegator. He makes people feel like they can do it. He’s very encouraging and very gentle in his approach. I’ve worked with Ve Neil, she’s just a powerhouse, talented and wonderful.”

Q:  You have a sort of “famous” relationship with Sara Michelle Gellar, you worked with her so many times. How did that get started?

A: I met Sarah at the first presentation of Buffy. Sarah came in and it was just instant comradery, it was instant fun and laughing.

Q: Before we started, you said something about a really good, clean beauty make-up. Will you talk about that a little bit?
A: “Beauty make-up is the bread and butter of this business. If you can do that, you have more opportunities to work, than if you just do FX or if you just do character work.”

Q: What’s your personal [life] code?
A: “Do unto others ..” [as you would have them do unto you.]

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
A: “Show up. Do your job. Eat free donuts. And, go home.”


During the interview, and intertwined in the hour long conversation, there were some great words of advice. Here, we sum up some of David’s quotes.

“Establish relationships. We pull from people we know. It’s rare that you hire someone you don’t know anything about.”
“You’re never going to work under optimum conditions. You have to learn how to operate under chaos.”
“Do whatever you’re passionate in. I’m passionate about beauty. It’s good to know all sorts of make-up, but stick to what you’re passionate about.”

Thank you, David for being an inspiration to our students!

David DeLeon Bio
Emmy Award winning Makeup artist David DeLeon’s artistic sense and attention to detail makes him a sought after makeup artist from Hollywood to New York and beyond. David brings a passion and commitment to every project he is involved with. He has worked with such talents as Barbra Steisand, Ellen Degeneres, Portia de Rossi, Harrison Ford, sarah Michelle Gellar and Jane Fonda to name a few. He has lent his talents to numerous films, television shows, stage plays, and print work. He also lectures at makeup schools and conventions around the world.
Follow David on Twitter @DeLeonMakeup

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