Chicago Native, D’angelo Thompson is a Daytime Emmy Award Winner, Celebrity makeup/hair artist, beauty industry innovator and author who has written a new book called “100 Days of Gratitude”. His book will inspire both youth and adults alike. He’s grateful for the experiences that he’s had in his life and wants to share the positive messages with the world. September 21st, 2020 is World Gratitude Day!
Where did you grow up, and what was your experience as a make-up artist early on?
D’angelo Thompson: I went to Curie High School of the Arts in Chicago. I never thought make-up could be a career. I was always dabbling into it, doing proms, and different events. Then, I went to Pratt Institute in New York. Someone told me to start interning while I was in school to make sure I wanted to do this. I started interning at a licensing company and found out it wasn’t for me early on. I was lucky. A friend told me, “why don’t you go into make-up?” And so I did. It was especially difficult because I was a black gay male going into a mostly female profession in the late 1980s. Women were not comfortable sitting in a chair with a man. They were like baby “what do you know about make-up?” I wanted to prove to them I knew what I was doing. As a free-lancer, it wasn’t easy either. I honored my calling, though. I started doing photoshoots, and then from there, I gained more employment, and I loved it.
Who were your mentors, and what did you learn?
D’angelo Thompson: My family is from the south. We moved from Chicago when I was about 12, and my mother has multiple degrees. She always wanted me to stay in school and be in business. I have had some great mentors along the way, too. Thank God I had mentors like Byron Barnes and Alfred Fornay, who were established African American males in the industry. They were very established men who took me under their wing along with Sherrie Lee ( from San Fransisco). They all told me to listen to what my clients were saying about the look wanted. So, I listen and then pull off the magic! I look at their energy. What I noticed and was taught is that black people in the Diaspora are so varied. Don’t have any preconceived notions going in. Keep an open mind. It was in Brooklyn, where I began to see the wide range of clients who came to me for make-up. I’ve had clients that were European, Asian, African, African American, Caribbean, and with all types of skin tones and skin types. (I have been doing this for 30 years and done make-up for people worldwide).
What do people expect from you?
D’angelo Thompson: I have corporate clients that want a natural look, which is very different from a red-carpet look. Also, brides are very determined about what they want. I love to work with all types of clients, but I have to look at their synergy and determine if it is right for me. My mother is always saying “Yes” to people, but sometimes you have to know when to say “No.”
What have been some obstacles?
D’angelo Thompson: Black lives matter. I am a black man. Once, an athlete wouldn’t sit in my chair because of certain prejudices. I think maybe he was homophobic mixed with gender bias. He also had some skin issues. The guy his shoe contract because of how he behaved with me. It was unfortunate that he could not overcome his bias because it could have been a great experience for everyone.
Tell us about your book “100 Days of Gratitude”.
D’angelo Thompson: My book is called 100 days of Gratitude and Inspiration. Some people pray and meditate. Once I started being appreciative was praying, and meditating, my career got better. It helped me stay in the present.
I felt like this book didn’t come from me. It came through me. My career has been magical, and I am very thankful.
What advice would you give to the youth?
D’angelo Thompson: Young black girls and young black girls should know their power. African American culture is shared with the world before we even get a chance to absorb it in for ourselves. We have to know our power. I wish more African American parents would start a business (to show children the possibilities). My advice is to youth is 1.Find a mentor 2. Know your worth 3.Execute and don’t give up.
I thank God for the teachers that I had at Curie High School. They showed me that you don’t have to be a one-dimensional type of person. You can have many gifts and passions. I hope this book inspires both youth and adults. This book can be found on Amazon.com.