***We’ve fixed the commenting issue from last night ***
Hi Necole! Being as though you are the best black celebrity blogger, I thought that perhaps I’d give it a try and see if you felt my story was news worthy. I’m truly a fan of your blog.
My name is Tatiana Ward. I’m a Philadelphia based professional makeup artist and beauty vlogger on YouTube. This past weekend I had the opportunity of a lifetime when my idol, Brandy Norwood asked me to do her makeup for a show she was having in Philadelphia. What makes this story so extraordinary is that I don’t have an agent. I’ve never done any celebrity makeup before and what was supposed to be a one time encounter turned into a 3 day whirlwind.
I spent the better part of my life being a vocalist. I’ve been signed and unsigned to a record label, in and out of studios and even made it to Hollywood week on American Idol. If you’ve ever been a singer, you know that Brandy is one of the greatest vocalists that our generation has. There isn’t a single talent that doesn’t recognize her as being one of the greats. As a teenager I stood out in the cold to get a signed copy of her “Full Moon” album and I spent countless hours in my room trying to duplicate every riff and run. I wondered if I’d ever be as good as her or have the chance to sing with her.
Five years ago, when I finally determined that music wasn’t going to take me to the places that I wanted to be, I had to decide what I was going to do with my life. I love faces and have always loved makeup. I figured, if I was going to anything other than music with my days, it was going to involve the beautyindustry. So, I taught myself how to do makeup.
Five years later, I have a very successful channel on YouTube teaching girls, around the world how to put on makeup from start to finish. Because music is my first love, I often times will do looks that were inspired by my favorite artists. Naturally, when Brandy came out with the “Put It Down” video, I was all over it! She wore the most subtle and beautiful makeup and I was thrilled to duplicate the look and share it with my audience. Much to my surprise, Brandy reached out to me via Twitter saying that she was watching the video and she loved my work. I just about fell OVER! She began following me on both twitter and instagram as well.
A few weeks after our initial correspondence, Brandy came to Philadelphia to do an appearance at a nightclub where she’d be promoting her new album. I have a friend who is very close with her fiancé and he was so kind as to invite me to tag along. I don’t know who your heroes are Necole, but I’m sure that in your line of work, you have met some of them. You can relate to the indescribable feeling of someone you so admire knowing your name, your face, and respecting what it is that you do. That night, in that club, not only did I get to meet Brandy, she made me feel like SHE got to meet ME. Telling me that she loved my work and that she was so happy I was there. I asked her when I could do her makeup. She told me that next time she came to town, she would contact me. I said, “You promise?” and she said she promised. “Brandy, you know almost doesn’t count right?” I said. She replied with the smile of an angel, gave me a hug and was whisked away out the door. I had no doubt in my mind that she would keep her word.
I have a beautiful friend who has features that are very similar to Brandy’s. I began practicing my technique on her and working on the time in which I executed it. I had no idea when the next time would be that Brandy would be in town but my gut told me that I needed to be ready.
A few months later, I was notified that Brandy was coming into Philly for a concert . This was my chance. I began putting out feelers to my friend who is close with Ryan, Brandy’s fiancé but I heard nothing back. So two days before the show, I took matters into my own hands. I have 80,000 subscribers on my youtube channel. I made a video asking that they all hit up Brandy on her instagram and ask her to make my dreams come true. They did. In droves I watched people who I’d never met before go in so hard for me and my dreams. On her photos and my photos I kept seeing people mentioning me asking that she make my dreams come true. More than a few times I was brought to tears at the amount of love that my viewers had for me. I knew that there was no way Brandy hadn’t seen it.
A day went by and I didn’t hear anything. I started to wonder if it was going to happen at all. I started to wonder if I was good enough. I went to bed on Wednesday night and I prayed that God wake me up to something wonderful. He did☺ At 8:30 in the morning. I woke up and scrolled instagram like I always do. My hand to God, within minuets of my opening my eyes and looking at my phone, a notification came through, “Will you do my makeup for my show on Friday?”. I SCREAMED!!!!!!! I ran into my roommate’s bedroom and posted a picture of our faces as we read that small sentence she sent for the hundredth time. Brandy then tweeted me and said that she’d be honored to have me do her face and that she would be in touch. The local news caught wind of the story and asked if they could film she and I after I finished her makeup. It was all like a dream.
Friday came and I was notified on where I was to meet Brandy and what time to be there. When I got to her hotel, it was her best friend that greeted me. I was so very nervous. Shay acts as Brandy’s assistant but above anything, she is her friend. She greeted me warmly and told me to make myself comfortable in her hotel room. She took a phone call and told whoever was on the phone that she couldn’t really talk at the moment, “but when I call you back, we’ll pray on it. I think we need to pray on it”. I had no idea who she was talking to, but at that moment, my heart was put to rest and my nerves were eased. I was in good hands.
I set up my makeup and waited for Brandy while Shay and I talked and I increasingly felt more and more welcome. In no time at all, there was a knock at the door. Shay went to open the door and there was Brandy. No makeup, hair wrapped in a scarf that was tied in a cute little knot. She was wearing a sweat suite and holding her phone because she was clearly video taping it. “OMG! Its BeatFaceHoney!!!!”. She came and hugged me and told me that she was so glad that all of this happened and that I was here to do her makeup. So there we were. It was just the three of us. No bodyguards. No management. Not even her fiancé came with her.
I asked her what kind of makeup she wanted and she told me that she trusted me. She trusted that I would do an amazing job because my instagram and videos let her know that I do makeup exactly as she liked it to be done. We talked about so many things. Her skin was so beautiful and big brown eyes were full of a genuine kind of joy and her energy was that of a girl who was truly happy in her heart to be living a life that she loves. I was made to feel as though I belonged, I was welcome, and I was appreciated. About an hour later, I finished. She looked in the mirror and turned to me, “Do you know how talented you are? Do you know how many people I’ve met in Hollywood that can’t do what you’ve just done? You’ve made me look like ME. I still look like ME.” All I wanted to do was not embarrass myself and not let her down and not let the beautiful people who pushed so hard to get me in that hotel room down. I’d succeeded. 80,000 pounds just lifted off of my shoulders. “Will you come to the show and do touch up’s for me?” My heart STOPPED. I knew I’d go to the show but never thought Id be backstage! Let alone in her dressing room!
I sat on the side of the stage and watched my idol own every inch of it. She tossed her hair. She swayed her hips. She hit her cues but most importantly she SANG!!!!!!!!! Never once sounding winded and never once loosing the momentum. She announced to the crowed, “I’d like to thank my makeup artist “BeatFaceHoney”. I couldn’t believe my ears!!
The next day, I cleaned my house and prepared to go to work that night. Recapping the story with my best friend, we listened to brandy’s music like we always do. I turned to her and said, “Twee, please call your mother and ask her to pray that Brandy calls me to do her makeup again”. I then walked downstairs and checked my phone. There was a text from Shay, “Brandy would like to know if you could do her makeup for dinner tonight? Also, she has a show in York PA on Sunday that we’d like for you to do her makeup for as well”. I sat down and I cried. Is this really happening? Just a week ago, my car broke down, so I walked a busy highway to catch the bus because I couldn’t afford to miss work and now, I’m doing my idol’s makeup for the second night in a row? Needless to say, I accepted☺
Being a makeup artist, or a stylist, or a hairstylist to a celebrity, means that you are aiding them in transforming into the best version of themselves that they can be. There is a LOT of trust involved in that. You see them as they are naturally. Before the makeup is on and before the hair is done. You see them flawed and that is a vulnerable place to be when you are in an industry that pushes so hard for perfection. In the process of the transformation from flawed to “Perfect” you are in hotel rooms and dressing rooms where you overhear conversations between managers, friends, family and spouses. You hear opinions, plans and ideas that are meant only for select ears. For whatever reason, Brandy trusted me with her privacy. I shared the most intimate moments with she and her very small and close entourage. Neither my talents nor my character came with a recommendation from any one of her celebrity friends. I have no idea why she trusted me, but she did and the thought of that so often brought me to tears and still does. I would never in a million years betray that trust. Not for anything or anyone.
When I was nearing being done her makeup on the second night, Brandy asked me, “What are you doing tonight?”. I told her that because I had to be back at the hotel early in the morning to go to York with her, I’d probably just go home. “Well, if you want to come to dinner with us you can!”. I don’t know about you, but if your idol asks you to dinner, YOU GO.
We went to a popular and pricey restaurant in Philadelphia called Buddakan. Being as though her fiancé is from Philadelphia, we met up with friends and family of his. There were about 15 people. All of them dressed nicely and all of them attractive and well put together. Because I was asked to get to the hotel in a rush that day, I just threw on sneakers, tights, and a hoodie. I didn’t fit in. Thank God for Shay. “Relax” she told me. “You belong here with us. Don’t worry about what you’re wearing. We don’t care, so neither should you”. I had so many thoughts going through my head that day that I forgot how much money I DIDN’T have. I’m a struggling artist and don’t make a whole lot of money. I was embarrassed and whispered to Shay, “I only have $9.00 on me”. She then smiled and said, “You did a phenomenal job on Brandy’s makeup. She’s happy to have you here and you deserve to be here. She’s more than happy to pay for your meal”. I was relieved and grateful, but still a little unsettled and embarrassed. I don’t go anywhere expecting for anyone to pay for anything. If I had it my way, I would have bought THEM dinner.
They sat us down at our table. Shay sat between Brandy and I. Brandy reached over to me and said, “Are you okay?”. I told her I was fine. She then told me that she was thinking about how I must be feeling. To be on this whirlwind with her must be blowing my mind! “You’ll get used to this Tatiana. Don’t worry”. “I think you need a shot to relax”. She called over the waitress and told her that I needed a shot. The waitress asked what I wanted. “Absolute” I said, to which Shay replied, “Absolute-ly not! Get her top shelf”. The rest of the evening was filled with laughter and conversations that friends have about children and relationships. There was no talk about how two seats down from me, was one of the greatest vocalists that my generation has claim. No, at that table she was Ryan’s fiancé, Sy’rai’s mother, Shay’s best friend and Ray J’s sister. Nothing fancy. Just your average girl.
We got back to the hotel and all of my makeup was still in Shay’s room. As I packed up my things, Shay excused herself and went up to Brandy and Ryan’s room. When she came back down, I was ready to go. On my way out the door she handed me money. She said, “Brandy wanted to wait to give this to you because you are still coming with us tomorrow. We figured that if you only had $9.00 on you, how were you going to get a cab ride home?”. They were right. My best friend was waiting at the house to pay for what was sure to be a $20.00 cab ride. I had called her and told her that I had no idea how I was going to get home, so she made arrangements to be there. As Shay handed me the money, I told her that in no way was I taking it! Brandy wants to pay ME for making MY dreams come true??? No way! It just doesn’t feel right! I’m used to being broke! What’s another day? Shay insisted saying “ You better take this money Tatiana! I’m her best friend but she still pays me too! When you do a job, you get paid for it and YOU did a wonderful job and she’s so happy to be able to give this to you”. I wont say how much I was given but I will say that for the month of March, my idol, Brandy Noorwood paid most of my rent. THAT blows my mind!
When I arrived at the hotel then next morning. We gathered in the lobby and piled into a white van. Me, Brandy, Ryan, Shay, two beautiful dancers, and the sound guy. I learned very quickly that no music would be played and we would sit in silence till we got to the venue two hours later. Brandy doesn’t like to listen to music before a show. This didn’t bother me in the least. There is something to be said for being able to sit in silence with someone. It shows your comfortably with that person. We had several moments like this. In the three days that I was with her.
We arrived at the venue in York. It was huge. Four thousand seats where placed so perfectly on the ground that I was sure a machine had to have lined them all up. I didn’t realize that it was sound check we were doing. Brandy and her dancers took to the stage. She kicked off her shoes, the music started playing and in her socks, with her hair wrapped up in a scarf, she reminded me of why she is a TRUE super star. She didn’t need an audience, or her hair or makeup done. BRANDY CAN SING. She sang Full Moon, Almost Doesn’t Count, Sittin On Top Of The World. The soundtrack to my life was being sang to only me. This was my favorite moment.
Back at the hotel, I snacked on the food services that were provided. Brandy came into the room offering me half of her sandwich that she was eating. I declined but was reminded again of why she is something so special. I know that this experience has spoiled me. I know that so many artists wouldn’t offer their staff nothing but the check with which they owe them. Not Brandy. I began to do her makeup when she stopped me and said, “Do you know how special you are?” She grabbed my hand and said, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that you work with my friends, and become the biggest and best makeup artist you can be. I have to work on getting you a passport and some luggage because I’m taking you with me where ever I go”.
Through out the three days that I was with Brandy, she often would just stare at me and not say a word. I believe that she was searching my heart. I also believe that she knew how much of a blessing she was in my life and was in awe of my experience just as much as I was. My grandmother taught me the importance of giving someone the respect of looking them in the eye when you speak with them. This shows them both that you care about what they are saying and also that you are expecting them to do the same. When Brandy would gaze at me though, I found it so hard to look her in the eye because if I did, I would cry. I felt the same way about Shay. These two women had been so good to me. I was on the verge of tears almost every minuet of every day that I spent with them. When your idol tells you that she’s gonna take you wherever she goes, all you can do is cry tears of gratitude. Finally, someone sees my worth and it’s not just someone. It’s BRANDY.
The ride home was much different then the ride to York. I was in the very last row with Tymothe. Shay and the dancers were in the middle and Brandy and Ryan where in the front. We played music for the whole two hour ride home. It was 90’s R&B. I fell asleep and one point and woke up to Soul 4 Real’s “candy rain”. Everyone was singing. I joined in. Brandy looked back and said, “welcome back Honey!”.
We got back to the hotel and Brandy got out and went into the hotel. We never said goodbye, but I was okay with that because my heart told me it wasn’t the last time I’d see her. In a way I was relieved because I didn’t want to cry in front of her. My friend and I were pulling up to our local watering hole when I got a phone call. “Brandy Norwood” my phone read. I answered and Brandy said, “Hi Honey! Im so sorry I didn’t say goodbye. We were rushing to get to Ryan’s mother for dinner. I’m so glad that I met you and I cant wait to see you again. You’re amazing.” I started to cry and told her that I was so grateful to her for everything. I told her I had a shot of Jack Daniels so I was emotional. She laughed and told me again how much of an amazing job I did. We hung up the phone and I sobbed. My best friend sitting next to me told me that all of the struggles I’d gone through have prepared me for this blessing.
I’m telling my story because I hope it inspires. A week ago, my roommate and I literally put our change together so we could buy canned soup to eat. I much relate to the movie “Almost Famous” which happens to be one of my favorite movies. Its about a boy who gets swept up in a whirlwind with his favorite band after Rolling Stone magazine hires him to write a story about them. My story is very much the same. I was exposed to a lifestyle that I always wanted to live. I was given an opportunity of a lifetime at the hands of a woman who I idolize. The meat and potatoes of this story is that dreams really do come true. They might not always happen the way you think they will or in the time that you think they will, but if you push forward and prepare yourself for your opportunity, it WILL present itself. I was ready. I would joke with my friends and tell them that I answer all bill collectors phone calls and say “Brandy? Is that you? Are you finally calling to get your makeup done by me?”. It really happened! She really did call. With the help of social media, my dreams have become a reality and I know in my heart that this is only the beginning.
The local news caught wind of the story and came by to film Tatiana. Watch the raw footage of the interview below:
And here’s the video Tatiana posted asking her fans to contact Brandy on Instagram