Phone: 410 963 5101
The beautiful, talented, and well-known celebrity makeup artist Susan “Suze” Heydt has made up stars like Elizabeth Olsen, Heather Graham, Laura Linney, America Ferrera, Daniel Craig, Josh Brolin, Matthew Goode, Emma Roberts, Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Kevin Spacey, Tilda Swinton, Ron Howard, Robin Williams, Ellen Burstyn, Melissa Leo, Diablo Cody, and Kathryn Bigelow. She has also enhanced the features of some politicians, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Jon Huntsman. Heydt’s work has been featured on the covers and pages of Vanity Fair, Elle, GQ, Glamour, TIME, Newsweek, NY Times Magazine, and The New Yorker.
FSHN:How long have you been a makeup artist and how did you get your start in the industry?
SH: It is my pleasure to share my story with you and your FSHN readers. I’ve been a celebrity makeup artist for the past decade and am represented by T.H.E Artist Agency. You may be familiar with one of the owners, Lynda Erkiletian; she’s from the hit show The Real Housewives of DC on Bravo. Suze Makeup Studio opened in 2010 to provide makeup services for the local community. In order to understand how I got my start as a celebrity makeup artist, we need to go back many years. Having previously been a professional model, I got my start in the fashion and commercial industry with John Casablanca’s Elite Agency, followed by David & Lee Agency (now Ford Models) and also working for Dior makeup. Not your typical salesperson or model, I was more interested in being a part of the creative process, making decisions and collaborating on the end result. Inspired by Tom Ford, I like to point out how he started as a model, yet achieved business success through his own line of fashion, cosmetics, and producing films. As it probably was for him, those early years of experience are critical to learning the industry. Random events shape your commitment and confidence. I will never forget how gracious Carolina Herrera was after I gracefully lumbered back from the runway in shoes that were three sizes too big for me. She patted me on the back and said, “You did it!” She understood the challenge and risk I took to put myself out there. When I eventually took a leap of faith to become a celebrity makeup artist, I had a head start over my competition through my previous work in the industry in addition to earning my college and master’s level education.
FSHN: With your high-profile clientele, what is the latest and biggest trend you see, or the most requested “look”?
SH: With star power clients, like Allison Williams from Girls, I find that they are very knowledgeable about new cosmetics and application from what they’ve learned from their glam teams and their own experience. The trendy look requested lately is from the era of Hollywood glamour: the 40s with the great skin, defined brows, playful lashes, and luscious lips like Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall. Does that kind of beauty ever really go out of style? You may agree that is does not. There’s also a bit of a Downton Abbey trend. I had the pleasure of working with Joanne Froggatt who plays lady’s maid Anna Bates on the show. She is lovely.
FSHN: Who was the first celebrity you worked with and how did it feel knowing that you had finally reached this level?
SH: Working with my first big-time celebrity, Heather Graham, was surreal. She called me on my mobile phone to say she was on her way. That rarely happens. In fact, hasn’t happened since with any celebrity. Their handlers usually do all the scheduling and introductions. She asked if it was okay with me if she did transcendental meditation while I applied her makeup. She was so casual about the whole thing. Later, I remember feeling tremendously pleased about her makeup, especially with custom blended lip color I put together in a lip balm container for her to carry on the red carpet that night. Conversely, I was feeling bad for her when OK Magazine picked the outfit she wore that night as the worst for that week. As long as they spelled her name right, maybe it’s better than not talking about her at all. Knowing I had reached the celebrity level of doing makeup, it wasn’t until later when one of my colleagues said she gave me a great compliment. Heather was clearly comfortable enough with me to meditate while getting made up that night. While I was doing her makeup, it was a bit nerve-wracking that there was not much interaction. Normally, you go back and forth in conversation. Or, at least, I like to get to know the person and what makes them tick. So, the immediate high of working with a celebrity was tempered by my initial concerns. In the end, celebrities are just people like you and me. Treating all my clients with respect in a nonjudgmental way seems to lead me to success.
FSHN: What do you love most about makeup?
SH: I love the artistic side of makeup, even though the result itself is fleeting. Once, at Disney, I fawned over this sidewalk artist who was “painting” with a bucket of water and a mop. The street artist quickly produced a flamboyant image of Mickey right there on the cement pavement at Hollywood Studios. Then, in seconds, as the Florida sun beat down, the work dried up to nothing before our eyes. The same simple joy comes from doing makeup. Although the art work is not permanent, you can appreciate the lasting results in photos and videos. On the other hand, because the effects are not forever, you can make changes right there depending on your mood or needs. I also love the interesting people I meet and learning about their passions. When your work is to help people look good and feel confident—which goes for women and men—there is a satisfaction of making someone’s experience a littler brighter and enjoying the moment. I’m a firm believer in enjoying the journey.
FSHN: How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other makeup artists?
SH: So many times on jobs, art directors, or photographers, or clients approach me saying, “We want a natural look.” I always assure them they are in good hands. My signature look is a classic style. Regardless of whose face I make up, you can tell it was done by Suze. With my artistry, you notice the person, not the makeup. Just as a good photographer develops a signature style, an artist or stylist does too. For example, I can always tell when a photo has been taken by Platon, who shoots for The New Yorker. His lighting, the cropping, and the comfort and confidence reflected in the subject’s face are all a result of Platon’s many years of care and concern with handling the individual, the client, and the crew. I’ve been told that my listening skills in addition to my care and concern for my clients make the biggest difference between [me] and other makeup artists. My training as a counselor definitely helps here. An individual is so vulnerable in the makeup chair. As a makeup artist, I am in your personal space helping you feel good about yourself. One very kind director suggested I should get into film because a lot of actors need that time in the makeup chair with someone like me to gear up for their day’s work. When I find similar artists with caring traits, I look to mentor those younger than me or ask for guidance from those older and more experienced.
FSHN: If you weren’t a makeup artist, what else would you do?
SH: Thankfully, we all have more than one talent that lies within us. I found that throughout certain stages of life, we are interested in different things. If I weren’t a makeup artist, I’d be counseling families. Having earned my master’s degree that was set to lead me to a PhD in Counseling Psychology, my path changed during a class at Boston College, which taught students to follow their passion. They recommended that you do what you did as a kid. When you were twelve or thirteen years old, how did you play? I was pouring through Seventeen Magazine, doing makeup, and writing. [I’m] happy to say that I am involved in my passion and am roughly 12,000 words into my memoir, Making Up America. Regardless of what I do, I am also a proud mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and pet owner. Family is the cornerstone and I am able to follow my passion because they support me. Nothing is better than coming home to the reality of family life after experiencing the whirlwind of celebrity life.
FSHN: What is your top tip for the girl at home trying to look fresh and ready to go in ten minutes?
SH: In today’s world of technology and instantaneousness, we are all often rushing. I had that same need, to be ready in ten minutes today. I recommend a multi-step product like Stila’s Stay All Day 10-in-1 (you get primer, color, protection, and more all in one). My go-to product is the Smashbox PhotoFinish Primer. If there were nothing else you could use, that singular Smashbox product would be the one to put on your face. To look fresh and ready, I have to finish with curled lashes (blast the metal part of eyelash curler with heat from the hair dryer for a few seconds first before you curl them to achieve the same effect as a curling iron on hair). I guess that makes three top tips!
FSHN: What are some common mistakes that women make?
SH: A lot of women seem to think they are stuck in a rut or can’t do their own makeup the right way. With some guidance—away from the leering public and in the personal setting of Suze Makeup Studio—women gain confidence and start to believe they can do it. Plus, anyone can scour YouTube and learn a lot from how-to videos.
FSHN: Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring makeup artists out there?
SH: If you are an aspiring makeup artist, take the first step—no matter how small—toward doing makeup. The rest will follow. Inspired by J.K. Rowling, after reading that she wrote most of Harry Potter at a coffee shop while her child napped, I figured if she could create a blockbuster book while fulfilling her duties as a mother, at least I could make a cold call to a local fashion magazine editor while my young child slept. Would you believe that when I took that first step to call, the stylist actually picked up the phone at her desk and was in the office that day and was not on location somewhere doing a photo shoot? That one call set the ball rolling, which led to meeting their staff photographer, who accepted me on a fashion shoot, which eventually got me an agent. Sounds easy, yet, whether at the beginning or at some point along the way, you will hit a wall. You can’t be discouraged to follow your passion. Keep in mind that for every great opportunity, there are ten times as many rejections. Even J.K. Rowling was turned away at first.
Photo: Brion McCarthy