Many of you may know, some of you never cared, but I have a contract with Viacom as a freelance Makeup Artist. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the global conglomerate, they own BET, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TVLand, Paramount Pictures, and many more. Though they are headquartered in LA and NYC, (and I currently live in Houston, TX) I was blessed to start working for them back in 2015. So when people ask, how I get to do the BET Awards every year, and a host of other exciting events, this is how it all began. I hope this story inspires you.
Picture it, mid June 2015:
My finances were looking scarce and I get a phone call from one of my girlfriends (who models in LA) saying she had 2 tickets to the BET Awards and she wanted me to be her plus 1. She went on and on about how much of a great experience this would be for me and my brand and that in so many words, she wasn’t taking no for an answer. I, on the contrary knew that my coins were looking like dry bones and there was no way I’d be able to scrape up the money to fly and stay in LA for a week (in less than a week) so I said I’ll plan ahead so I can attend next year. But she insisted that she knew she heard from God and I needed to be there THIS year. And said if I can purchase my flights, I didn’t have to worry about anything else. So I considered it.
I spent the next couple days praying about it and asking God to provide if, in fact, I’m actually supposed to be going bc I honestly couldn’t see it happening. This was Thursday. Friday I purchased a one-way flight to LA (out of Dallas bc it was cheaper) and made up in my mind I was trusting God. My flight was to leave the upcoming Wednesday. I told my family and they were NOT in agreement and thought I was making a not-so-wise decision. But when I woke up that morning I had such a peace about the trip, I knew I was supposed to be there despite how my family felt.
Fast forward to Tuesday night, I receive a phone call from a celebrity MUA based in LA, asking if I could come assist her in LA for the BET Experience and Awards. Though it was last minute, she’d need me there Thursday afternoon. That was a sign bc My flight was to arrive in LA the night before! I gratefully obliged and did the “In yo face sucka” dance bc I couldn’t wait to tell my family and my homegirl! My family still wasn’t 100% sold but they were at least 50% there.
Fast forward again to Thursday morning, remember I’m flying out of Dallas so I take the mega bus to the airport, I board the plane and guess who’s sitting next to me? THE CELEBRITY MUA! I couldn’t WAIT to tell my family! What are the odds that she was coming for NYC and had a connecting flight in Dallas and we’re not only on the same flight but sitting next to each other?!?! Come on God!!
Fast forward one last time, I get to LA, hit the town with my homegirl, do a fashion show with the MUA, link with my ex (SMH), walk the streets of Hollywood Blvd, watch TMT and some gang get into a HUGE riot outside Kitchen24, save a drunk minor who had stolen her parents Tesla in the middle of the night to party with her friends, got so drunk she lost her keys, the car and her purse, (that story deserves it’s own blog post), and make it back to the hotel in Burbank 5:30am Sunday Morning.
Mind you, Call time for the BET Awards was 10am and we were an hour away from LA Live.
I attempt to take a 30 min. nap before my alarm was to go off and when it did I continued to hit snooze. My homegirl forceably wakes me up and I’m legit crying bc I felt I couldn’t do it. I was exhausted, my head was pounding and I just wanted to sleep. But she reminded me that God wanted me here to a reason and to get my butt up bc I had an assignment to carry out. By this time, I’m still crying but now rushing bc in order to make it in time, we had to take a taxi to the subway, ride the subway for about an hour and walk the remaining distance. And my crying was cutting into our time.
So, we get up and are rushing to the point where we were doing our makeup on the subway. I’m listening to worship music and praying to calm my nerves. We get off the subway and walk upstairs and my phone is blowing up with tons of text messages and missed calls from the Celeb MUA and her assistant. Call time is in 20 minutes and we’re less than a block away from the venue.
I call her back and she says “I’ve been trying to call you for the last hour. I’m no longer doing makeup back stage because Chaka Khan wants me to do her makeup and you can’t assist me. So I have no work for you. Sorry but that’s how the industry goes.” My heart SANK. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. I just busted my tail getting here and as I’m preparing to walk in you tell me my services are no longer needed?!?! After I just pulled teeth to convince my family that I was supposed to be here?!?! After I just posted on Facebook that I was here and about to do makeup for the 2015 BET Awards?! After I just went through hell and high water to get here and I’m on 30 minutes of sleep in a 2 hour behind time zone?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
I was numb. My friend asks what’s wrong and I tell her. She’s all, “HELL NAW! I told you I didn’t like her, blah blah blah” and I’m trying my best to remain calm. My family always says “Leaders lead in every situation.” So I take a deep breath and pray. “ Lord. You don’t have me here for no reason. Holy Spirit tell me what I’m supposed to do. “
Clear as day, the Holy Spirit tells me to go back to the hotel and get my makeup kit. Now, what I failed to tell you was that the celeb MUA has her own brand of cosmetics and I could only use her products and tools while assisting her so I was going to be sharing her kit with her. But I don’t care who says what, if I’m going on a family vacation or what, I NEVER travel without MY makeup kit.
I tell my friend and she’s like “so you mean to tell me, we’re gonna have to get back on the subway for an hour, take a $30 taxi to the hotel, get the kit, catch another $30 taxi to the subway, an hour ride on the train, only to be standing right where we’re standing right now?!?! You’re crazy. But if God said it, let’s do it”.
Fast forward 3 hours later, it’s 1pm, 98 degrees and I’m in all black toting a huge black suitcase full of makeup. We’re both wearing huge black frames and sweating bullets.
We walk into the JW at LA Live which is the hotspot where all the celebs were. And I honestly don’t know what came over me. But we walk to the front desk and I say to the host “Hi. My name is Kierra Lanice and I’m a Professional Makeup Artist. Where do I set up?” #BeastMode
The host says, “Omg yes! Let me show you to the BET Production staff. They’ll get to squared away.” She directs us to the escalator and both me and my friend are freaking out like, it worked! It worked! Haha
We get to the BET Production Staff and I’m immediately intimidated so we go to the restroom. I take a few deep breaths and try the same phrase hoping it would work with these guys.... yeah right. lol
The first thing they asked for were credentials. So I told them the truth. I was supposed to be assisting _______ but at the last minute she got asked to do makeup for Chaka Khan. That meant you guys were going to be short staffed so here I am.
They knew the artists name and asked me to verify that I was to assist her and luckily my friend kept the company shirts in her bag. They proceeded to tell us that they can’t help us but they can take us to someone who can.
We walk down the hall and they drop us off at a conference room. Inside was a single woman RIPPING SOMEONE TO SHREDS on the phone. I mean we were terrified. She looks at us and says “How can I help you?” in the most aggressive tone. I kindly tell her that the production staff sent us to her and tell her in so many words what happened. She hangs up the phone and says “You’re literally an angel! I was just cussing out a makeup artist who was supposed to be here but is currently hung over. I have 4 people that have to be on the red carpet in the next 2.5 hours. How fast can you work?!”
Me - uhmmm... let’s go! She literally takes off full speed to the elevator. While running she looks back at my homegirl and says “who’s she?” Me- “my assistant!” Hahahahaha
We get to the elevator and she’s giving me the whole run down. “We’re going to Room ____ you have 33 minutes. I’ll come get you and take you to Room_____ on the 28th floor. Then Room _____ on the 19th floor. You MUST WORK FAST. ”
And for the next 2.5/3 hours, it got REAL. Working on clients In presidential suites alongside celebrity hairstylists like Evie Johnson and Johnny Wright (Michelle Obama’s hairstylist), sharing elevators and striking convo with Robin Thicke and Floyd Mayweather...It. Was. Crazy!!!!
And by the time we were done, we sat at the bar in the lobby and watched the show on the television. I sat there in tears. Like what the hell just happened to my life?! God you are sooo good.
Meanwhile, my friend is trying to get in the show because remember we actually had seats. But I’m sweaty, with makeup everywhere so it was a no for me dawg lol.
I don’t even remember the remainder of the evening. So many invites to after parties and Chris Brown’s mansion and all kinds of stuff.
I just remember waking up Monday afternoon around 1pm and getting brunch with my friend. While recapping the crazy night, I receive a phone call.
“Hey is this KierraLanice?
“Hi this is _____ from yesterday! I had to get your contact Info from one of the clients. I just wanted to say you did an EXCELLENT job and thank you soo much. Everyone had nothing but great things to say about you.”
“Wow. Thank you so much again for the opportunity!”
“Now listen, I didn’t formally introduce myself but I’m ______ and I’m the ____ executive for Viacom. We have to get you paid. So I’m gonna have someone call you and get payroll expedited for you because tiemsheets were to be sumbitted Friday! Okay hun?”
*Crying* (Because in my mind, the experience and exposure was enough for me; not once did I even think about compensation. )
“So make sure you print these forms, sign them and scan them right back okay?”
I receive the email and the first thing I see is “Welcome to Viacom!” And I sign a time sheet verifying a check for well over $1,000 for 2-3 HOURS OF WORK!
I cried and worshipped and thanked God and cried some more. And yeah, I’ve been with them every year since.