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D’angelo Thompson: “Never be late, come early, and set up”

Never be late, come early, and set up. You don’t want to be frazzled or unorganized, I learned that pretty quickly. Client privacy is paramount, you will always work and be trusted if you know how to be quiet, no matter what you see and hear. Keep your ego in check, the key is longevity. As a […]

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Never be late, come early, and set up. You don’t want to be frazzled or unorganized, I learned that pretty quickly.

Client privacy is paramount, you will always work and be trusted if you know how to be quiet, no matter what you see and hear.

Keep your ego in check, the key is longevity.


As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing D’angelo Thompson, a three-time Daytime Emmy Nominated Hair and Makeup Artist, “Guest Hair” Daytime Emmy Award winner for the Wendy Williams Show, an accomplished Author, and Podcast Host.

His credits include Law & Order SVU, MTV/VH-1/LOGO (Viacom), Food Network, Joy Mangano, and Author, James Patterson. His expertise extends to bridal, editorial, commercial, film, and television. Additionally, for over 20 years, D’angelo has been a consultant and educator in partnerships with Il Makiage, Glamour Dolls Makeup, Chic Studios, Makeup For Ever, Calvin Klein Cosmetics, LORAC, and others.

As an Author, D’angelo penned and published “Enhanced Beauty”, “Enhanced Beauty for Teens “, “Enhanced Beauty: Men’s Grooming”, and “A 100 Days of Gratitude”. All are available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble and other online retailers.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a traditional Southern family that migrated to Chicago from rural Mississippi right before my 13th birthday.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a child, I was extremely creative and always making artistic projects such as designing decorative pillows, writing poetry, doodling faces with makeup and elaborate dresses. So, I guess you could say I always knew I would be in the creative arts. Fast forward to years later, I ended up applying to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and was accepted! I was so excited. I enrolled and began studying Fashion Merchandising and Fine Art. This led me on a journey of self-discovery and almost 30 years later, I have created a pretty successful career as a makeup artist in fashion, film, and television.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I remember when I lived in San Francisco, being the only HMU that showed up for a huge club fashion show in my early 20s. I went into a zone and did HMU for 20 models in 3 hours. I have no idea how I pulled it off, but I got it done and the models looked great! I went over and above to finish the job without any assistance at all and it was stressful! After pulling triple duty, the client only paid me my normal rate, which I found to be strange and a tad bit inconsiderate, but I laugh at it now. While walking home from the Folsom area to Union Square in San Francisco, I realized this was my life long passion and would be my career.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The biggest mistake I ever made was on a music video. The director wanted me to erase the lead singer’s face with prosthetics. I miscalculated and it was a nightmare! The performer couldn’t breathe and I had to remove everything! After several trials and errors, I had to finally tell the producers and director that I couldn’t achieve the one major thing they wanted. Luckily, I did not get fired and they did everything in post-production. I actually offered to give up my pay to help with the cost of post-production, but I can’t remember if they accepted my offer or not. The biggest lesson was if you can’t do it, hire someone else on your team who can or do not accept the job.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have been blessed to do so many great jobs but 3 of my most favorite ones were working with Aretha Franklin at the Tony Awards, doing Joy Mangano’s makeup for the press tour for “JOY” the movie and her book cover, and being part of the makeup team for “Wonder Woman 1984”.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is key in any and all aspects of our lives, especially in film and television. Often, artists of color are only hired when requested by talent or if there are a lot of P.O.C. involved in the project. I would say most artists of color are proficient in all skin types and hair textures, yet many non-minority artists that lead can lack the same skill set or choose not too. Diversity expands our knowledge of one another, it casts a broader net creatively and reaches across the aisle and tears down walls.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Here are 5 things that I really wish someone would have told me. If an aspiring artist follows all 5 of these they will ALWAYS work and be successful.

1. Never be late, come early, and set up. You don’t want to be frazzled or unorganized, I learned that pretty quickly.

2. Even though we are artists, it’s a business and treat it as such. It’s important to not be too casual with clients.

3. Client privacy is paramount, you will always work and be trusted if you know how to be quiet, no matter what you see and hear.

4. Be honest with clients if you don’t like something, even if they don’t take your advice.

5. Keep your ego in check, the key is longevity.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

To thrive in this business, you don’t have to accept every single booking or job offer. It’s important to prioritize self-care and connecting with your loved ones. This was a hard lesson for me.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement I am on and hope to inspire is Gratitude. I think many people lack appreciation and gratitude for the many gifts life offers us all. Gratitude would be my credo. I make it a point to be thankful and grateful for everything in my life. No matter how big, or how small. I believe that if we can all take the time to take notice of all the amazing and positive things in our life and say THANK YOU for them, it will lead to a more fulfilled and happy life.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been many people who opened doors for me and the list would be too long for this article. I’d love to say thank you to Sherry Lee from the Bay Area who coached me about set etiquette and trusted me with big clients very early in my career, like Disney. Also, Alfred Fornay and Byron Barnes, who taught me alot about the business, creatively and introduced me to talents like Aretha Franklin and Martha Wash. I truly believe it’s important to have mentors and allies in this business, thankfully I have many.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life quote is this: “trust your intuition”. Many times, I may have felt something was “off” with a production and in the end, they didn’t pay me or the set was just not run professionally. Thankfully this didn’t happen too often. With that said being said it’s important to ask lots of questions before saying yes and trust your gut.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have tea with Oprah Winfrey and talk about life growing up in Mississippi and how it helped her life’s journey. I’d ask her questions about Maya Angelou and last but not least, what is she most grateful for?

How can our readers follow you online?

On Instagram @dtbeauty71 or my website at www.dangelothompson.art

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success! Thank YOU!!

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