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The Pursuit of Happiness: Loving the Life You Live & The Career You Choose (Part 1) | A Q&A with Erika Moore
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. - Confucius
We've all been there, right? Maybe stuck trying to "figure it all out" or....having it all figured out, but not knowing what to do next. Maybe it's the college major you really want to do but everyone else seems to say "You won't make enough money." Or maybe you're good at a lot of things and you just can't seem to narrow your playing field. Or the big one....maybe you know what you want to do, but it's taking you longer than you thought to get there. No matter what it is...we all want to be "happy", right? Or find ourselves living this life that brings us immense joy. But, how do we get "that" life? How do we step outside the box and love the life we live AND love our career, too? It takes courage. It takes patience. It takes gratitude. It takes fearlessness...in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire (one of my favorite quotes). But most importantly, it takes dedication. Today, we meet Erika...a rising make-up artist in Atlanta, Georgia. Erika has come to Dialosophy to share her journey starting out as a theatre major in college, and how she is now pursuing the life she loves and her dreams...as an aspiring award-winning makeup artist. Welcome, Erika Moore.
Q: Welcome to Dialosophy, Erika. Thank you for taking the time to share a piece of you with us today. Before we get started, tell me Erika, what does the above quote mean to you?
A: I live by this quote, because it is so true! I was taught even by my father that I should never settle for nothing...and to pursue my dreams at all times. Living by such a powerful quote won’t have you with your head held low or in a place you don’t feel complete. Instead, you will be happy, and that is what I am striving for.
Q: What do you think makes a "dream job"?
A: A “Dream Job” is where you feel complete....Where someone finds their true happiness. I know my "dream job" is something that I not only have dreamed about, but also invested my time and money into...because I know that I want to see my dreams become reality.
Q: Alright, well why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself? Tell us your story...and what you're doing now.
A: Well I was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia. I am 23 years young. I am the oldest and only daughter out of three, and my parents are still married. I was raised in a Christian and artistic household. Meaning...that I have always been around singers, dancers, musicians, and actors/actresses my whole life. I recently graduated from Valdosta State University in 2019 with my BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in Theatre, where I found my passion for special makeup effects. After college, I went to Gwynnis Mosby Makeup Academy and received my certification in Makeup Artistry. Now, I am currently attending Aveda Institute of Atlanta to receive my Master of Cosmetology License. My passion is to become an award-winning Special Makeup Effects Artist. I love the arts, and I love to create and build something into a imaginary creature with just makeup. It is something that I just love.
Q: When did you realize that make up and cosmetics was your passion? What was the spark or big "AHA" moment for you?
A: I originally wanted to be an actress, because I know how to act, sing, and dance. It wasn’t until my friend taught me how to “beat my face”. I noticed that I had a little bit of a skill in that field. When I transferred to Valdosta, it literally slapped me in the face. At Valdosta State, it is required that I take a Basic Stage Makeup class. On the third day, I was addicted! I started going to the library and reading different books about stage makeup. I learned about the "god fathers" of special makeup effects, and I would go every weekend to my dorm room and practice on something, whether it be a bruised eye on me or face painting a skull.
Q: Makeup artistry could be looked at as a...narrow field. Like, if I told my parents I wanted to be a makeup artist, they'd have looked at me crazy, like a bat out of hell. So, did you face any roadblocks or negativity along the way in pursuit of your career...from family or friends? If so, how did you overcome this?
A: Thankfully, no. Like I said, my parents were pro-"follow your dream". And my father is a successful musical theatre actor. As far as my family, I had no issue. But as for people I would call my "friends", I have had a couple of “haters”....or people that would try to use me for my art. In this field, you do have to be careful who you are around...because people will take your kindness for granted. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way and that is fine because I grew from it. As far as overcoming it, I always look at my goal in life and focus on that because at the end of the day it really matters if I am happy and that I am at peace.
Q: So, let me segway into this...because I can guarantee the first thing people around me would think about is "I won't make enough money doing this..." Was money ever a consideration in this for you and how you'd make a living?
A: I honestly didn’t think about the money aspect until after I fell in love with it, and I noticed that makeup is super expensive. Like wow, lol. And I don’t know who would say you can’t make money off of being a special effects makeup artist. Because I can make just as much or more as a lawyer or doctor. If you love what you do, you will make that money come in. Right now, since I am back in school, my money is..."interesting". Lol. BUT I have been getting booked with weddings, movies, fashion shows, and photoshoots. Not to mention, I work on the weekends at a natural hair salon.
Q: Did you, yourself, ever feel insecure...like you weren't capable of chasing this dream? How did you feel, and how did you get through it? Invite us in, and tell us about that.
A: Of course! I have doubted myself multiple times. I would constantly think that I wasn’t good or not have enough experience to talk to someone like Ve Neill, someone that I look up to in the world of special makeup effects. Eventually, I realized that if I kept thinking like that and being shy and putting myself down, I won’t get anywhere. I remember in one of my makeup looks, I didn’t think I should post it because I felt like It wasn’t good....thinking I didn’t shade in the right areas and that no one would like it. But when I finally finished the look and posted it....everyone loved it.
Q: Who has had the most impact in your life in pushing you towards your dream and why?
A: I have several family and close friends that have pushed me towards my dream. The one person that is number one and that has been pushing me from day one is my mother. She pushed me to keep applying for colleges when I felt like I couldn’t get in them because of my GPA. She even is helping me support myself through cosmetology school. And is constantly reminding me that I need to study... and go to school.... and to make sure I do this or that. The other person that has been pushing me towards my dream is my man, Henry, the love of my life. Without him entering my life, I knew I would have probably given up on myself and my dreams. He is constantly telling me how proud he is of me and that he sees how hard I am working toward my dreams. And times when I want to give up, he is there making sure that I keep my head up.
Q: As a black woman, what has your experience been like in this field? I'm completely ignorant to the cosmetics industry. So, are you a majority? A minority? In between? Have you felt supported along the way?
A: I know in college I was the only black woman in the theatre program in production of hair and makeup. I was really alone when it came to doing special makeup effects for fun or wanting to do it after I finished all of my classes. Everyone I knew in college was more interested in being in a sorority, going to a party, or attending the next event that was being held on campus. I haven’t had much experience in the film industry to say how I feel. But I know that now things have changed, more people are grinding and working.
Q: How significant has mentorship and networking been on your journey? How have you gone about "putting yourself out there"?
A: It has honestly been a great journey for me. I am still always looking for a mentor. And also, my networking skills are getting better. In my field, if you don’t network it is worthless. It's all about who you know and what people know of you. I will say that sometimes I do struggle with networking, and I do get nervous sometimes. But...it all comes with me growing and becoming more confident.
Q: Can you describe a time where you were put in a situation where you had to take a risk, regarding your career...when you just had to GO FOR IT-and not be afraid about failure or what was going to happen next?
A: When I was attending Savannah State University, my major was Theatre. I wasn’t happy, and I just didn’t feel like I was in the right place when it came to what I wanted to do with my major and my future career. In the middle of my sophomore year I knew something was wrong and that I needed to change ASAP! I kept asking people around me if I should transfer, and I was getting a “No" and "why would you do that?”. Eventually, I figured out a way to make it work for me to transfer because it seemed like everything was in the way of having it happen for me. Long story short, I went with my heart and transferred to Valdosta State University, even though it was hard for me to do so.
Q: So, what's next for you? What are some of the things you're hoping to accomplish is 2020, if you don't mind sharing?
A: In 2020 I plan to graduate with my Master Cosmetology license. I want to be either taking classes or going to school for special makeup effects. I want to achieve more work for my portfolio....while also working on more films, proms, and weddings.
Q: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
A: Five years from now....I see myself working in the industry. I see myself being very
full of knowledge with everything I want to learn like molding and sculpting. I see myself owning my own car and being financially stable. I also see myself being where I want to be physically and mentally, since that is also important as well. In 10 years, I see myself owning my own makeup business and still working in the film industry. Also, I see myself working on a movie that wins an Emmy for special makeup effects. Last but not least, I see myself working with celebrities on editorials and more while still being happy physically, mentally and living a happy life.
Q: If there is anyone interested in walking down this path, can you map it out for us? What's schooling like? Where should they be looking to go? Who do they need to be trying to meet,; etc etc.?
A: If you want to take the educational route or the “self-taught” route...no matter what you need to work, work, and keep working. It is not easy and never stop practicing, because once you stop....you are holding back your blessings. I truly can’t say go to this or that school, because I am still testing the waters of that. All I can say is do your research, visit the places you are interested in, and talk to the people who went there. From there, you will know which will be the right path for you.
Q: If anyone is in the Atlanta area, are you available for booking?
A: Absolutely! I am always available. Just contact me through email, Instagram, or my website. I do weddings, proms, festivals, photoshoots and more. I also do hair, but I specialize in more natural hair and I am always looking for models.
Q: If you could tell little Erica something right now....what would it be?
A: STOP BEING NERVOUS! That shyness isn’t cute. Be confident in yourself; you are super talented! And practice drawing!!
Q: For the readers....if there is anyone out there "stuck" or scared of living out their true dreams or living life fully....what do you say to them right now?
A: Go For It! You only allow yourself to be stuck. If you don’t move, you don’t go anywhere. In order for you to achieve your goals, you have to walk in it....not only physically but also spiritually. Believing in yourself and speaking it into your life will take you far. Trust in your heart, and I promise you will feel amazing!