Vanessa Dionne has had the makeup bug since watching her great aunt apply makeup with precision and routine at her vanity in the 1970s.
“I distinctly remember the four lipstick passes she made on her lips: cupid bow to corner, cupid bow to other corner, lower lip to center, and other side to complete the lip,” recalls Dionne. “I would just stare, watching to see if she missed and went outside of her lip line. It never happened.”
Because creativity inspires Dionne, she was motivated to focus on acting, as well as makeup, wig, and hairstyling, at the University of North Texas. Ultimately she earned a BA in Acting there and journeyed to Los Angeles with dreams of acting on the big screen.
Los Angeles proved a circuitous adventure. While pursuing acting, Dionne simultaneously enrolled in makeup school at Joe Blasco in Hollywood. Turns out, makeup school paid off—and very well.
Over the last 20 years, Dionne has evolved into a successful makeup artist in the City of Angels. Now an Emmy award-winning makeup artist and a five-time IATSE Local 706 Makeup Artist and Hairstylist Guild Award winner, Dionne is more energized than ever about her career.
“I love envisioning the big picture, designing a show, or just making someone feel good,” she says. “Makeup artistry is very rewarding. It fulfills my soul and entertains me! Seeing my work on the big screen, television, or stage is a thrilling adrenaline rush. I am humbled to create such beautiful and unique images.”
To date, her work has been seen in hundreds of theatrical, television, film, and Broadway productions. A quadruple threat thanks to her competencies as a makeup artist, wig stylist, wig maker, and hairstylist, Dionne is passionate about collaborating with others and passing on her extensive knowledge.
“Mentoring others and collaborating for makeup excellence—those are my reasons for being,” reflects Dionne. “There should never be any secrets in this industry, and I take my responsibility to pass the torch seriously.”
When not beautifying her clients, Dionne spends time with her three Jack Russell terriers, teaches Pilates, and engages another passion—Cookie Love LA, her gourmet cookie company.
For 25 years, Vanessa Dionne ('95) has been working the "hustle and grind" of Hollywood.
Now she's an Emmy Award winner, taking TV's top prize in the Outstanding Makeup for a Drama Series category for The Bold and the Beautiful at the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in April.
"I felt as if I could exhale and be satisfied with all the years of my work coming together," she says. "The irony is that I originally came out to L.A. to be an actress, and the dream role I wanted was to be on a soap opera!"
In fact, hair and makeup was her technical studies backup at UNT. As she ran the hair and makeup department during campus productions, she loved seeing the final design in place.
"Makeup is a transformative art," she says. "It can transcend the imagination and send the audience on a journey that is a window for the eye and food for the soul."
She especially loves period work. One of her first films was Titanic,"which was insane and very memorable." Last year, she morphed performers to appear as Richard Nixon and Mao Tse-Tung for the opera Nixon in China at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. For Annie, which ran this summer at the Hollywood Bowl, it was all classic 1933 makeup and hair. She won two Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards in 2016 for Alice in Wonderland the Opera, for which she worked for six months to build the designs. And she's since won three more Guild Awards, one for A Chorus Line and two for Mamma Mia.
Dionne is constantly busy, having to look for jobs since The Bold and the Beautiful only shoots 12 days a month. But an average day can run 10 hours or more. She credits Barbara Cox, associate professor of costume design, as her biggest influence, saying her tough-love style drove her to produce her best work.
"I never knew my journey would become what it is today, but I have no regrets," Dionne says. "I love educating newcomers in the industry. Knowledge should not be a secret but passed on."