After Akman’s workout and a shower, I headed to the fieldhouse. At IMG, there are long golf carts that transport campers around. My friends and I got on the golf cart. We arrived at the field house and disembarked. We went back to the room upstairs and waited from Lacy Redway and Vincent Oquendo. Redway is a hairstylist and Oquendo is a makeup artist. They arrived with smiling faces. Redway was wearing a blue snake print dress with a belt. She looked fabulous. Her shoes had a short heel and were white. She shared with us that she got the dress from Topshop and the shoes from Prada. She reiterated that being fashionable does not have to be expensive. Also, your outfit can consist of pieces that are at different price points. The whole outfit does not have to be cheap or expensive. Oquendo wore an all-black ensemble. I noticed that week that most people in the fashion industry wear all black.
The interviewer asked both where they were from and how they got started in the fashion industry. Redway began, “Hair kinda happened accidentally. I’ve just always known how to do hair. I was like the girl in school always doing everyone’s hair.” Originally, Redway believed she would be a publicist and that is what she majored in in college. Both Oquendo and Redway originally wanted to be a publicist. Redway always knew she had a passion for fashion, she just did not know how to pursue it. She began assisting. Redway continued, “Assisting is so important if you want to work in fashion because you just really don’t learn enough information behind the desk. You really have to get in the field and like really… shadow someone and you get to learn also from their mistakes… and take it and make it your own.” Redway assisted a hairstylist who did photoshoots. While assisting, Redway had an “aha moment” that revealed to her that hairstyling was a profession she wanted to pursue. She enjoyed the process of being on set and seeing the final product in a magazine.
Oquendo responded to Redway, “First off, I didn’t know you wanted to be a publicist. I wanted to be a publicist.” Oquendo also went to school to be a publicist. Oquendo knew he liked working with people. He also wanted to travel the world. He pursued being a flight attendant. Then he realized he could work with people and travel the world by being a makeup artist. The moment he realized he wanted to be a makeup artist was when he was in Paris assisting Pat McGrath. Oquendo described, “I remember I started crying it was at Galliano. I got all the heels and I was in the lineup. And I remember a model turned to me and was like ‘Are you ok?’ and I was like ‘I am so good!’. Oquendo continued, “I didn’t come from money. I didn’t come from anything… I never thought I would end up in Paris. Even just going there… and being apart of something so much bigger than myself, that is when I knew.”
Redway and Oquendo have known each other for over ten years. Redway stated, “We both were assisting backstage. So we kind of grew up in the business together. So it’s nice to sit here next to you and be like ‘Wow girl we made it!’.” Everyone smiled and laughed. Redway assisted Guido Palau, “probably one of the biggest fashion hairstylists in the world”.
Redway was able to stand out because she knew how to do all types of hair. Redway could not only do all types of hair, but she could braid. Redway did not notice her uniqueness because she had always been accustomed to working with all types of hair. Redway could easily adapt to any head of hair unlike most of the competitor assistants. “When I was backstage, I think it was at Alexander Wang’s show… a crowd of assistants stood around me, watching me.” After that moment, Redway realized, “I kind of have something here. I really need to push and pursue it”.
“Everybody starts off somewhere,”
The interviewer asked about how to treat people on set and what are the roles of a hairstylist and makeup artist on set. Oquendo began, “Everybody starts off somewhere,” he continued by using an example of Gigi Hadid, “Gigi, I remember when she first started, I worked with her. And how things change… people grow and you grow with them.” “Like when you start out… when you’re an assistant, just knowing your place and… having that set etiquette and being nice, being polite, anticipating what the person needs before they actually say that they need it,” Oquendo advised. Oquendo believes, “We all get hung up on what we don’t have, but what we do have is drive. Use that drive.” He was nice to everyone on set and made sure he said good morning and goodnight. He continued,” [Also,] being kind to the models, bring them water, making sure they were ok. That makes such an impression.” Oquendo worked with both of the Hadid sisters in the beginning. Oquendo reminisced, “In the very beginning I did Bella’s Jalouse
cover. And this is when she was Gigi Hadid’s little sister. She had under a million followers. It was all brand new for her and I was just really nice to her on set. And then we exchanged phone numbers. And then when she started doing red carpet stuff, she asked me to do it. And it was all so new for us. And then we just got to walk through that together.” That encounter initiated “a new chapter” to Oquendo’s career and “the most exciting and lucrative chapter yet.” His success came from “small kind acts” while he was on set.
Redway chimed in, “It’s about being nice [and] saying thank you. It doesn’t take anything out of us to say ‘thank you’ or ‘hello, good morning’.” Redway continued, “A lot of what I get my jobs from is yes, you have to be super talented, but people have to want to be around you.” Redway believed that “energy” and “what you can bring to the space” plays a huge role in getting hired. Traveling around the world can cause stress and sleep deprivation. “It’s about having a group of people around you that you really and enjoy and that are nice. And bring good energy and good feels to the room. It’s about the vibe,” Redway professed. “There could be someone just as talented as you but they’re gonna go with the person that’s nice,” Redway declared.
“There could be someone just as talented as you but they’re gonna go with the person that’s nice,”
When working on set, Redway states, “I have to make everybody in the room think I’m doing exactly what they want me to do but also do what is best for my client.” Redway explained, “It’s learning how to work that space in a seamless way where it’s not so obvious that you’re doing what you think is best.” When Redway is on set, she is the expert and there is no one else above her. She has to be able to communicate and not only make the vision come to life but do what is in the best interest of her client.
“It’s learning how to work that space in a seamless way where it’s not so obvious that you’re doing what you think is best.”
Both Redway and Oquendo worked at the 2019 Met Gala. The interviewer complimented Redway on Tessa Thompson’s braid and Oquendo on Ella Balinska’s eyeliner. The interviewer asked, “What is it like working on an event like the Met Gala?”
Planning for the Gala can begin up to five months prior. After the theme is decided for the Gala the conference calls, dialogue exchanged between designers and stylist, mood boards, making the gowns, and the diets begin. Oquendo describes it as “a proper… political campaign.” The day of the Gala, the preparation can cause stress. “The celebrities are nervous and you have to sort of create an environment they feel good in,” Oquendo explained. Oquendo believes that makeup is a small portion of his duty: “Makeup is about 25% of my job, 25% is listening, and 50% is creating that environment in that moment and being receptive of my client’s needs.” All the preparation can go out of the window if something goes wrong. “I’ve had clients like have full-on mental break downs before they walk out the door and they start crying and everything starts melting,”
Oquendo remembered. The success of an event is determined through the client’s emotional state. “As long as they feel like their best self when they walk out the door,” Oquendo commented. I learned that doing makeup or hair and leaving was not the beginning and the end to their jobs, they have to offer emotional support as well. “I think what Vincent is trying to say is that we’re therapist, doctors, we are lawyers, we are all that,” Redway laughed. It is easy to forget that celebrities are just regular people. “They’re human beings, they’re people, just like us, they get emotional just like us,” Redway empathized.
“…we’re therapist, doctors, we are lawyers, we are all that,”
Redway never chooses a hairstyle until she sees the dress. Redway designs the hair around the outfit. This year, Redway did Tessa Thompson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Zazie Beetz.
Redway has an “army of assistants” to help her with these types of events. She assures, “I can’t do it alone.” Redway has agents and business managers that assist her also. She was able to keep all of her clients in hotels in close proximity to one another so she could easily move around. “I had one assistant helping me per girl so that I could shuffle between the hotel rooms,” she explained. Redway also does a hair test. The day before a big event like the Met, she will do a hair test to see how the hair looks in reality and in photographs. “The Met Gala is the Superbowl of fashion,” Redway described.
“The Met Gala is the Superbowl of fashion,”
Redway’s favorite event is the Met Gala. Redway began doing editorial and then celebrities.“It’s where I get to like marry my editorial background with my red carpet sensibility,” Redway states the Met is her favorite because she is able to both of her specialties. For those like me who did not know the difference between an editorial shoot and a red carpet event, an editorial shoot is a photoshoot that goes into print and articles, while the red carpet is just styling a celebrity for an event. The Met Gala is normally considered both because the celebrities walk the carpet and their looks go in magazines.
The interviewer asked how they established themselves in the industry and what it is like having an agent. Both Redway and Oquendo are managed by the Wall Group. The Wall Group is owned by IMG and IMG is owned by Endeavor.
“When we were young little babies, we thought having an agent was like opening the gates of heaven. It was like, ‘Now we made it. Now we get to sit back and cash checks,’’ Oquendo assured us that having an agent is not salvation. “I got signed I was like ‘Ahhhhh’,” he mimicked a heavenly sound, “except, it wasn’t.” The agent can only do so much for their clients. Oquendo stated, “You have to work just as hard as your agent works.” The agent can help to get jobs but “you are your brand and never forget that”. Oquendo advises, “No matter how fabulous the agency is, [no one] is going to put in the work you need to put in yourself.” There can be one hundred people who are better than you, but “nothing compares to the work you put in”. “Showing up every day on time, early, being kind, not leaving until the job is actually done… being present,” are the things that will set you apart. Oquendo advises to stay away from your phone and to be as present as possible. “Be present,” he demanded.
“No matter how fabulous the agency is, [no one] is going to put in the work you need to put in yourself.”
Social media completely changed the fashion industry. When Redway and Oquendo were beginning their careers, there were only platforms like MySpace and Model Mayhem. Model Mayhem was a site similar to LinkedIn that created a space for people in the fashion industry to network. Redway made connections like Jamie Nelson on these social platforms whom she still works with today. Redway believes social media was a great tool then and it was not as diluted as it is now. Redway believes social media has been beneficial for her career: “Beyond having an agent, it allows me now to use my own voice and… advocate for diversity in the industry and reach people all over that we would have never reached before… So I’m able to share my gift with the world and also inspire people.”
Physical portfolios have become a thing of the past. The interviewer quoted that Devon Windsor looks at people’s Instagram before hiring them. Redway agreed, “People go to your Instagram first, like when you’re being hired for a job, they don’t go to your portfolio first.” In the prehistoric days, one would need a 9 by 12 portfolio. In order to be booked, the agent would send the portfolio out to clients and they would choose based on the book.
The world of creativity has evolved. Redway reiterated, “Now the industry has grown so much and there are so many people that it is a lot harder to stand out so you have to be really good and really nice.”
Oquendo interrupted, “And take down all those thottie photos from your Instagram.” There was an uproar of laughter from the audience.
Redway emphasized that it was important for the people at fashion camp to network with one another.
“You guys are all here for a reason,” Redway professed. She used her and Oquendo as an example, “We came up together. I never would’ve dreamt I’d be sitting up on stage talking to you guys.” Redway is a Jamaican immigrant. She lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her parents and brother. “I’m getting chills just talking to you guys about it,” she reminisced on her life, “It’s really surreal to see how far hair could take me.”
“It’s really surreal to see how far hair could take me.”
“I just came off a huge press tour, I was in like four or five countries in seven days. I was on private jets… It sounds lavish but I’m sleep deprived… but it’s also incredible… God really has me covered,” Redway reflected. Redway does believe divine intervention and connections had a lot to do with her success, but that only took her so far. “Nothing gets handed to you,” she added, “you really have to put in the work.”
“God really has me covered”
The interviewer asked what the difference is between Youtubers doing makeup and being a full-time makeup artist.
Youtube and social media are now a huge part of the Fashion industry. Redway stated, “If you don’t want to get left behind, you gotta learn how to adapt.” Trends are always changing and it is important to always be abreast of what is popular. Redway uses Youtube and social media to stay current on trends. People can easily succumb to the mindset of the old fashion world and get left behind. When it comes to, Youtubers Redway says, “they can teach you a thing or two,” and that she is “always learning.” Redway with decades under her belt in the hairstyling world, believes she has not learned everything. “Once you feel like you’ve learned everything, I feel like that’s when you kinda die,” she added. In any industry, it is important to “evolve, and stay relevant.” Redway continued, “I do look at Youtube and I do respect what YouTubers do.”
“If you don’t want to get left behind, you gotta learn how to adapt.”
“Evolve, and stay relevant.”
Oquendo questions what exactly success means. He stated, “The ceiling keeps shattering and the work keeps opening up… the goal keeps changing.” Oquendo believes there is a huge difference in YouTubers, beauty influencers, and actual professionals. Oquendo confessed, “I think the responsibility falls on the viewer of knowing the difference.” Youtubers are not experienced makeup artist. Oquendo continued, “This person is specialized at doing make on themselves.” Oquendo highlights the difference, “This person may be amazing at doing makeup on their own face, but if you put someone else in front of them they might not be able to recreate those kinds of looks.” Oquendo has been a makeup artist for seventeen years. He claims he can fit any look to any face, skin tone, or feature and give a similar effect. “I could create a similar look so that you essentially could walk in the same runway show and fit it to your face and make you look the best in that look,” Oquendo clarified, “A beauty influencer is gonna make that look look amazing on themselves but they may not be able to adapt it to everybody else.” Oquendo respects influencers and their work, but he believes what they do is different. Oquendo shared a story of a brand hiring an influencer and then giving the influencer celebrities to work on. The influencer was not able to recreate the looks on the celebrities because they had only had experience using makeup on themselves. Oquendo advised, “If you want to be a hair person or a makeup person get a job at a makeup counter. Even if you do it one of two days a week.”
Oquendo described working at the counter as “one of the best things I ever did.” Sir John, who does make up for Beyonce, Micheal Anthony who does make up for Katy Perry, and Oquendo all started off working at the same makeup counter.
The other issue with hair and makeup is perception.
Makeup and hair look different under varying lights and angles. The makeup and hair may have to be altered if the light or angle does not match. Certain looks on Youtube do not look right in the real world. Before a shoot begins, Oquendo makes his models test the light. He tests the light so fore he does makeup, he knows where the shadows fall.
Oquendo believes, “A real talented artist is defined not by what they do, it’s what they don’t do” Oquendo quoted the late Coco Chanel, “Take off one thing before you go out the door.” Oquendo remembered when he was assisting Pat Mcgraph, “When I was doing these shows in Paris, sometimes Pat would have us do beautiful makeup. I remember at Prada one time we did this amazing makeup. Then she would say, ‘oh now take this greasy oily remover and take it off, smudge it,’ and that was the look. The look was the destroyed make up look.” Oquendo was shocked by all his hard work being destroyed.
“A real talented artist is defined not by what they do, it’s what they don’t do”
Redway does the same thing with the hair. Sometimes she hides braids and pieces in the hair to make it look more full.
The interviewer asked how do Oquendo and Redway feel about the shift of brands becoming more inclusive to all tones and textures and if there is still more progress that needs to be made?
“I personally believe there’s still a lot more work to be done,” Redway continued, “I can speak specifically as a woman of color working in the industry.” Redway is a woman of color and she still deals with racism. “There are still times where I feel challenged,” she stated. “I feel like I’m constantly proving myself,” Redway added. Redway feels like she does not get the same treatment as her peers: “Also getting the same, fair opportunities as my counterparts.” Redway feels lonely being one of the only black hairdressers at her level. She feels as if there needs to be more women of color who are able to reach her level. The fashion industry is oversaturated with white people, leaving little representation for minorities. Redway never wants to feel limited: “I don’t belong in a box, don’t put me in one.” Redway, as one of the very few successful minorities in her field, feels a great sense of responsibility. “I feel like I represent women of color,” she explained. Redway has a goal to not only represent women of color but to help them.“I’ve made it my goal to open doors for other women coming up after me… specifically women of color,” she continued, “diversity is something very important to me.” She also says, “I am willing to sacrifice relationships to communicate properly.” She has lost many friends and opportunities for using her platform and voicing her opinion on injustices. “I want to work with the people who enjoy me, and also want to stand with me and fight for the same things,” she professed.
“I don’t belong in a box, don’t put me in one.”
Both Redway and Oquendo are brand ambassadors. Oquendo is the ambassador for Maybelline. He made it very clear before partnering with them, that he would be using his platform to make a change. Recently, Oquendo piloted Maybelline’s first pride campaign. The people apart of the campaign are apart of the LGBTQ community. In the campaign, they shared their coming out stories. Oquendo came out when he was thirteen and struggled not seeing representation. Eventually, he came to a point in his life where he realized he needed to stand up for what is right. “I’m going to do this whether it’s successful or not because I know it’s the right thing to do,” he stated. Oquendo was fully aware of the consequences of being himself. “This might be the end of my career, but at least I’m going down in a blaze of glory,” he laughed. Oquendo believes his job extends past being a makeup artist. “It’s bigger than makeup, it’s about making people feel like their most confident self in their own skin,” he explained, “We’re making people feel like their best selves.” Oquendo believes the makeup is not really important the most important part lies in “the power of listening to someone”. “You changed their life in that 45 minutes,” he described.
“I’m going to do this whether it’s successful or not because I know it’s the right thing to do.”
Redway added that life is about “making anybody who sits in your chair feel like the most important person… because they are.” Oquendo agreed, “Don’t be afraid to speak your truth.” Everyone has traits that make them unique. Oquendo continued, “All those things that set you apart, that you may question, are the things that make you special, that make you magic.” Oquendo dealt with accepting himself: “I didn’t need to be like that person, I needed to be me.” Eventually, Oquendo learned to appreciate himself: “I love the way I am. I love my weird laugh.” Oquendo dealt with people constantly criticizing him. He shared, “Even agents told me in the past, ‘be a little less you,’” he continued, “And I left them because that wasn’t right for me. I knew I had to be my true self.”
“The power of listening to someone.”
“All those things that set you apart, that you may question, are the things that make you special, that make you magic.”
Redway enjoys the shift in the industry towards equality, but she hopes that brands are being honest. She began, “I love the way that the industry is going and that we’re being more diverse but I just want to also make sure it’s from an authentic place.” She believes, “It’s not trendy to include the LGBTQ community or to have more women of color on your covers or in your campaigns… it should be the way the world is because it reflects the world we live in. I feel like some brands are doing somethings because it’s what is of the moment.” She also emphasized on the new generation’s responsibility: “You guys are the future leaders and you guys are gonna change the world.” She wants us to “be authentic” and to “do what is right, not just because it’s going to sell.” Both reminded the audience to stay humble because “it could all be gone tomorrow.”
“I love the way that the industry is going and that we’re being more diverse but I just want to also make sure it’s from an authentic place.”
Q & A
The question and answer portion began. One person asked how Redway and Oquendo deal with criticism and negativity. Redway believes that it is important to not internalize negative energy. “Don’t take that energy into your body. Keep your energy,” she explained. Also, they both believe the unfollow and blocking feature in social media is essential. If someone is being negative, block them.
“Don’t take that energy into your body. Keep your energy,”
Another person asked how to be accepted in a world with unrealistic beauty standards. Redway replied, “Change beauty.” Redway believes we are the generation that is changing the world. Models like Ashley Graham and Winnie Harlow would have never existed if it was not for the industry shifting to being more inclusive. Both speakers also believe that “patience” and “finding your own voice” are important.
Redway was asked to give hair styling tips. Redway swears by Nexus products. She believes Nexus works on all hair types. She loves Nexxus dry shampoo and believes it adds volume. We were all given a Nexxus shampoo and conditioner when we left the room for the next activity. Thanks, Lacy Redway and IMG.
Redway was asked how red carpets and editorial shoots vary in difficulty. Redway believes editorial is easier because the environment is controlled. Also, editorial is two-dimensional. Redway can easily get away with having braids in the back of the hair that are holding the style together because all that is being photographed is the front. While on a red carpet, all angles of the hairstyle have to look good. On a red carpet, the hairstyle has to look good, but it also has to be durable. In a photo shoot, the hair could fall apart at any second, but it is ok because it can be quickly corrected. On a red carpet, the hair has to last the whole night.
Oquendo advises us to not text or be on the phone when getting makeup or hair done.
We took a break and left the room. Redway and Oquendo stayed and got ready to do Devon Windsor’s hair and makeup. We returned to the room. They decided to give Windsor a beach look. They continued answering questions.
Another person asked about scandals and how they should be dealt with. Redway worked on the set of a controversial Pepsi commercial. The commercial included Kendall Jenner being a protestor in a riot and ending the riot by giving the policemen a Pepsi. The commercial caused controversy because it conveyed the message that if a white supermodel led the Black Lives Matter movement with soda, then maybe the world would be a better place. Redway was seen in the background of the commercial and caught fire for being associated with the message. Redway was just there to do hair. Redway learned that she should ask more questions about her jobs before she commits to them. She was just there as a hairstylist, but she believes she should have been more aware of the storyline of the commercial.
Another person asked how to stay passionate about your profession even if you stop liking it. Oquendo responded that it is important to “adjust lenses” and “change directions”. It is important to take a step back and remember what made you love what you do. It is also important to give yourself a break and recalibrate.
Someone asked how they find inspiration. Both Oquendo and Redway find inspiration in everything and there is “always a point of reference.” They believe inspiration is found in albums. They also believe it is important to look into what other people do and see what they reference. Redway thinks everyone should know iconic decades and have references from the past.
Redway added, “There is enough room for all of us in the industry.” She does not believe in cutting other people down to stay ahead. She believes there is enough room for everyone in the fashion industry and welcomes us all.
“There is enough room for all of us in the industry.”
A letter to Vincent Oquendo & Lacy Redway,
I enjoyed hearing your story. You have a wonderful personality and are a joy to be around. You taught me that what I want is already mine if I work hard enough and believe in myself.
Sasha C. Yates
I enjoyed being around you. You truly made me feel special. I appreciate everything you do for women and how you carry yourself radiantly. One day, I hope to affect people in the way you affected me.
Sasha C. Yates