Bell of the Ball When makeup artist Syretta Bell talks style, stars listen By Mi chae l J . Pa l l e r i no
I did not get into this for the cheers and awards, but to share my talent and to tell stories. That keeps me focused.
started looking to up her game. Hanging around with friends, she was soon introduced to the entertainment industry. Her road to the big time took its first big exit in 2011 after a fellow artist referred her for Season 1 of Teen Wolf , the MTV series based on the 1985 supernatural drama film of the same name developed by Jeff Davis. Later that year, she hooked up with Tyler Perry Studios for the series For Better for Worse . Two years later, she joined the studio for good, eventually being named head of makeup in 2016. “I loved the idea of being able to bring stories and characters to life through my makeup. The cool part is that I get to transform people into some iconic characters. One of the surprising parts of my job is that I am a therapist to the talent. There’s a certain trust and bond that artists share where the talent may lean on you and trust you to listen to their concerns and reassure them of their performance.” Keeping a keen focus on the mission ahead and why that matters is something the self-proclaimed Jersey Girl says she has had a lifetime to perfect. “It’s very important to have a clear vision and, more importantly, the right intentions when entering this career because there’s going to be some highs and lows. I did not get into this for the cheers and awards, but to share my talent and to tell stories. That keeps me focused.” Staying the course is as simple as surrounding yourself with the right people, something that Bell has also perfected. “I make it a point to surround myself with others who inspire me to be the best and to let my light shine. In this business, there are a lot of times your work can go unseen or not noticed, and for an artist, that can make you doubt. But having the right people in your circle can keep that spark lit in you.” One of those people is Perry, who Bells says leads by an example that is awe-inspiring to watch. “Tyler encourages you to strive for your dreams and to go as hard as he does. To work alongside him daily is to see his focus and dedication to his vision.” It is an exit Bell is blessed to have made.
Syretta Bell with a client
T he late Joan Rivers and fashion editor André Leon Talley once told Whoopi Goldberg, “You don’t have to listen to anybody. Your style is your style. You can be whoever you want to be.” Everyone knows that Whoopi is going to be Whoopi, whose admittedly simple style consists of a white shirt, jeans, and comfortable shoes. If you put too much thought into the process, especially makeup, it gets into your head. So, when the legendary star sat down in Syretta Bell’s makeup chair, it had all of the makings of a real “anything goes” moment. And then something magical happened. As Bell started to apply make up on Goldberg, the star known for her spontaneous and offbeat energy started to relax. She ended up sitting in the chair for a full hour, sharing scores of stories from her career. The experience was a turning point for Bell. “It made me realize that I was doing what God had called me to do. It gave me a sense of why I got into this industry. I have always been social. People could always open up to me. I want people to feel good about everything they are doing and seeing. It is one of the reasons I do makeup. That experience was one of the most pivotal moments in my career.” Growing up in Fort Dix, New Jersey as the oldest of six children, Bell prided herself on not being like everyone else. She never bought into the premise that just
With Whoopi Goldberg
Photos courtesy of Syretta Bell
because you were a girl, you did girl things. To make money, she did un-girl things like mowing lawns and delivering newspapers. That sense of uniqueness became a driving force—a trait that would enable her to chase her interests into the worlds of fashion, beauty, and style. Bell spent some time working with Sephora before she secured an agent with The Green Room Agency and
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