Interview with Irene Rozell

Irene Rozell: Hair and Make-up Artist

Headshot taken by Spencer Freeman

A Licensed Cosmetologist in Florida, Nevada, New York, and Texas, Irene gets around. From professional broadcasts with Orlando City Soccer to weddings at the Happiest Place on Earth to Disney Cruises, taking care of talent, characters, guests, and guests that were characters, Irene has worked with many of the most demanding clients in the world. And every time, she rises to the occasion.

Whether shooting at an abandoned house or the Governor’s mansion, a feature film, or a one-person shoot, Irene is right at home. She’s very aware that she works in a 24/7 world, and that’s okay with her. Whatever the hour, she’s always fresh to make sure her people stay fresh.  

Most importantly, Irene is a communicator. She knows how to read a room, how to read people, and how to handle any situation. So at the end of the day, Irene is all business – the business of making sure her clients look good, feel good, and are at the top of their game.  

Clients call Irene the “consummate professional,” “versatile,” “detail-oriented,” “inspiring,” and “engaging.” Work with Irene, and you will feel the same way too. (Courtesy of Irene via her website)

TSM: Hi Irene, thanks so much for interviewing TSM. It’s great to have a hair and makeup artist in the magazine. 🙂 

IR:  Thank you so much for featuring my passion. It isn’t every day that I am in the spotlight. Typically I am behind the scenes or working in a green room. By the way, Congratulations on the relaunch of your magazine.  

TSM: What inspired you to become a hair and makeup artist? Is, is something you always dreamed of doing since you were a young girl?

IR: Actually, the spark that started my career was a simple child’s toy called Quick Curl Barbie Beauty Center. It was like a mannequin head. You could do her hair and makeup. Barbie only came with blue and green eye shadow. I knew that was a problem. You see, my Mom sold AVON when I was a child. She had multiple palettes of colors. I knew Barbie needed to step up her game. Even at that early age. I was already going door to door with my Mom carrying her box of cosmetics. (So, Mom was much cooler than Barbie.) I loved the samples of perfume and cosmetics. And my Mother noticed that sales would increase because I would pick out shades of lipsticks for her customers. Either I was the cutest kid, or I had a knack for understanding skin tone and complementary colors. Twenty years later, I guess we know it was the latter.  

Irene Ferdinand working on Michelle Wie LPGA for Sport’s Illustrated (Page 50). Yes, I am actually in Sports Illustrated! Photo by Ben Van Hook

TSM: When did you know that this was the career path you wanted to take in your life?

IR: I remember the exact moment I wanted to study the field of Cosmetology. Upon graduating from the eighth grade, my Mother and I started reviewing high schools and their curriculums. It was a massive decision for a thirteen-year-old. I was fascinated that these schools had gyms and cafeterias. I noticed quite a few older girls dressed in pink uniforms at manicure tables. I couldn’t believe the school had so many vocational programs in addition to regular classes. Carpentry, Auto Mechanics, Machine Shop, Nursing, Fashion, and Cosmetology. If you wanted to take one of these classes, there was a catch; you had to have all of your high school credits to graduate completed by the end of tenth grade. The requirement was necessary to accommodate a two-year vocational program. For the first time, I had a goal and planned to work towards it. It was Cosmetology. My Mother never said no. I am starting to believe she is a saint. She let me pursue my dream. I would not be here if I didn’t have such a supportive Mother and Step-father, Al.

TSM: How old were you when you became obsessed with hair and makeup?

IR: I wouldn’t call it an obsession. I was interested in hair and makeup at a very early age. Maybe four or five? The bright colors, the soft brushes. It was such a joy to watch my Mother getting ready for church, putting on her Sunday best, and getting ready in her bedroom. She would remove her pink sponge rollers and brush out her hair. She had a mirrored tray of perfume bottles that graced the top of her bureau. Her makeup drawer contained an assortment of brightly colored lipsticks. And I knew I wanted to look just like her.   

Our family also has a long history of working in the entertainment industry. My great grandparents traveled with the Wild West Shows; with “Buffalo Bill” Cody in the early 1900s. My great Grandmother was a prima ballerina, bareback horseback rider, and lion tamer. That is how she met my Great Grandfather, a Chief Rigger, and he kept the books. The show finally merged with Ringling Brothers Circus. But, I believe they passed their passion down to my Grandfather, who worked on Broadway in Manhattan as a Carpenter and Craftsman. The entertainment industry is in our family’s bloodline.

TSM: What are your favorite kinds of products to use?

IR: Is that a trick question? Oversaturation has taken place in the cosmetic industry. Some brands are popping up overnight, only to find out there are recalls due to sanitation problems or finding asbestos. So, I tend to stick with professional, established cosmetic companies. I favor companies that help independent contractors. If you provide your license and credentials, some companies will give you a discount because they want you to use their products on your high-end profile clients. I can’t say that I have one particular company that I use. It varies according to what works on set. But some of the items in my kit include: Inglot, Esteé Lauder, MAC, L’Oreal, NARS, RCMA, and AVON.

Working on Grant Hill, NBA Player for Mountain Dew Commercial

TSM: What is your process for a hair and makeup shoot? And how do you ensure your clients are happy and satisfied with your work? 

IR: Communication is vital. As a hair and makeup artist, we are dealing with production. The crew usually gets a schedule a few days before the shoot. This information is a breakdown of the location, call time, and the number of talents. Clarification and confirming as many details in advance keep the production running smooth. In other words, read your production schedule. Creating a positive environment of open dialogue is helpful when dealing with so many cooks in the kitchen. Does the shoot take place in a studio or outside?   Is the talent going to be getting wet? An example: a pool scene or evening dinner. Continuity and details matter. Once the wardrobe gets the green light, they usually proceed to the make up chair. The look gets polished, then the talent is ready for final approval.  

On the other hand, professional headshots consist of a consultation with the talent, photographer, and myself. We usually talk about the look they are trying to achieve, wardrobe, makeup, and hair styling. I have had a few strange requests over the past year or two for headshot sessions. Some of the styling requests have been; battered wife, homeless individual to sleep-deprived patient. My job is not to question their motives, but create a look they have asked me to achieve. The photographer always clarifies at the end of each shoot. Did we achieve the desired looks for today? It is the responsibility of the talent to speak up if they are unhappy. We are there to please them.

TSM: Tell us about one of your most memorable shoots?

IR: I have had so many memorable shoots that I should write a book.

In 2008, an inquiry came in for my availability for a live broadcast and photo shoot. Production could not give me an exact location or call time until the night before the shoot. And they refused to tell me the name of the talent. They asked to perform a background check and needed my Social Security number. That was the giveaway; I knew immediately who my talent would be for the next day.  Central Florida is a hot spot and key battleground for Presidential candidates.I only needed to ask them one question. Did they need me in
the morning or late afternoon? I already knew both presidential candidates would be in town and flight schedules. (I keep up with current events). I packed my lunch the night before because the candidate had a history of running late. Once I showed up to the location, the Secret Service addressed me by name before showing identification. Orlando Sheriff’s Department wanted to go through my cases and have the K9 Unit dispatched. The Secret Service mentioned that it would not be necessary and brought me into a private room to set up my gear (I guess I passed my background check). I had my lunch and waited for about two hours. Next thing I know, Senator Barack Obama walks through the door. We worked with him and his team for a few hours. What I didn’t know, a day later, I would be receiving a call from John McCain’s team to work with him at the end of the week for Good Morning America. I worked with both Presidential nominees for the United States of America in one week. Talk about excited!

Finished image for “Political Football” and a day I will never forget working with the future President of the United States!

TSM: Who are some hair and makeup artists you admire?

IR: Broadway productions have been an enormous influence on my career. Ann Buffone was my Cosmetology teacher for two years, and she inspired me to pursue my passion. She hired me back to work for the New York State Public School System for a three-year contract. Ann was tough and focused on the basics, but her direction gave me a strong foundation for my career. I also had the opportunity to work for Richard Jay, on Long Island as a hair assistant. Richard is a master at cutting and training. I am still in awe of his cutting skills. Also, Sharon Blain, a trainer and educator, is an incredible stylist. I am a huge fan. I love all of her work. There are so many talented professionals. I could be here all day, listing people and the reason why I love their work.  

TSM: What would you say are the most common beauty mistakes that women make?

IR: Some people call them “beauty mistakes” while others call them “trends.” Gosh, there are so many weird trends taking place right now that make me cringe. Can we please stop with concealer and foundation that doesn’t even come close to matching the natural skin tone? Who started this trend? And why do they look like they are going trick or treating? Also, why are women high lighting their nose? Watch out, Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer; you have got competition. Please don’t get me started! My Grandmother mentioned to me
at an early age, “Don’t wear so much makeup that people can’t recognize when you don’t have any on.” I have always followed that advice.  

TSM: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?

IR: If I had the power to do something in the world today, I would love to give everyone access to clean drinking water. I cringe at the thought that some people in the world may not even know that their drinking water is contaminated.   

TSM: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?

IR: I have carried a keychain around since high school because I loved the positive message:
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you dare not, you don’t.  
Success is all in your state of mind.
Life’s battles are not always won by those who are stronger or faster.
Sooner or later, the person who wins is the person who thinks he can.

TSM: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can readers find out more about you and your work?

IR: Our view on beauty and fashion changes with the trend of the day. But a clean natural beauty never goes out of style. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and getting to know a bit about me. My website: or Or my Facebook Work Page:

TSM: Thanks again for taking time out of your schedule for the interview, and wishing you all the best in the future. 

IR: Thank you again for giving me this opportunity to share my passion. 

Working on Disney Cruise Line for their brochure and website images

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