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Meet Alisha Baijounas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alisha Baijounas.

Alisha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in the Bay Area (Northern California) and was enrolled in a performing arts magnet school. I really wanted to focus on theatrical acting, but fell in love with makeup design during a production design class. I had always been interested in filmmaking as long as I can remember – one of my fondest memories was a trip my grandparents took me on to Universal Studios and we got to walk onto the sets of The Nutty Professor. I knew when I came across makeup artistry that It was how I was going to start my career in film.

After graduating with a diploma in performing arts, at the advice of makeup artist Bobby Weiner (Bloody Mary), I dropped everything, moved to LA, and went to makeup school to learn special makeup effects. After graduating while building my filmmaking career, I worked for beauty companies Clinique, Benefit, and Napoleon Perdis. For the past five years, I have been completely freelance mostly working in film production – music videos, commercials, television, and feature film.

With my wide range of skill set, I can either be found working on something in the horror genre doing practical blood effects and prosthetics or do beauty and grooming for some of Televisions most popular reality shows (Married At First Sight, Growing Up Hip Hop, Nailed It!).

Has it been a smooth road?
This is one of the hardest industries to work in and couple that with being freelance most of your career. It takes a specific personality type to be able to maintain a career for the length of time it takes to finally secure the right production teams and clients. We spend a lot of the beginning years taking whatever work we can get in some ridiculous conditions hoping to meet a client or a name that will take you with them. But in my 13 years of doing this I have learned you can leave and come back, you can go sideways, backwards, and upside down to go forward, You can learn new skills and elevate the projects available to you, and while knowing someone to get you in the door is nice – hard work will actually take you just as far.

I struggled getting through school – quitting my job two weeks in so I could take advantage of extra workshops and eating through my life savings. I have had to move out of state to regain financial footing. I have seen large clients come and go with the tide of their business. I have struggled to find work only to turn around and almost have too much work. I have struggled with being an artist before and aftInstagramram and youtube made careers with no interest in going that direction and being told by agents I need social media for my career to survive. All freelance artists struggle with access to healthcare, and retirement plans.

In the last five years that I have fully dedicated myself to working in film production, I am struggling to get enough eligible days to join the IATSE 706 union, and I am sure there will be a whole new batch of struggles once I am finally qualified. Every struggle, every tear, every hour of sleep I lose – it has all been worth it for me to spend every day doing what I love in a new place, on a new face, and with new incredible filmmakers.

Tell us more about the business.
I provide makeup artistry, hair styling, and special makeup effects services mostly to the film production industry. I still take private clients on a case by case basis, and do have a few print clients I still love to work with. I specialize in character design, ethnic beauty, wig styling, and practical gore effects. With my background in theatrical acting, I provide a unique character breakdown that I incorporate into my makeup and hair designs. I like to hide clues about my characters current and past lives in the designs – even if only the director and I know they are there.

What sets me apart is my skill range – and that I do all of it equally well. There is no design challenge that I am not willing to figure out and if I don’t know how to do it I know someone who does. I am also so prepared at all times, that there isn’t much we can’t do as a last minute request. I love filmmaking – so I have nothing but respect and love for the amount of hours and personal sacrifice it takes for every member of the crew to put those frames in the camera.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think we will continue to see CGI improve and replace a lot of practical effects but there are a lot of directors that see the value intangible things that actors can interact with on-screen so I don’t see it dying anytime in the near future. However, I do think we will continue to use and improve upon using both to implement each other for the best possible outcome. I think we will also see the over-saturated social media world morph into its own genre.

The industry is finally seeing it for what it is – a new age platform for advertising and selling products. There are so many horror stories of hiring what appears to be artistry talent to step out from behind their selfie function on their cell phone cameras to work on a production, only for production to realize their talents are incredibly limited to what they know – social media.

One of the greatest shifts is always makeup trends and technology and learning to work with those shifts! It makes this job really fun, and keeps us on our toes!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jesse Bodas, Jesse Ashton Rhodus, Shaiza Lalji, Amber Diamond, TOSA Brooks

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