WarnerMedia has partnered with Black Beauty Roster and its network of 10,000 vetted beauty professionals in an effort to advance diversity in hair and makeup on set.
Through the new relationship, WarnerMedia and Black Beauty Roster (BBR) aim to address a problem that is twofold — first, addressing the concerns of talent of color who’ve been underserved on sets by helping producers and executives find hair stylists and makeup artists skilled in working with their hair textures and skin tones; and second, creating opportunities for those artists to work on productions and special events, which is often complicated by union regulations and rosters.
“We [at WarnerMedia] had done these listening sessions to hear about the concerns that were happening, and, of course, one of the biggest things was hair and makeup,” Yvette Urbina tells Variety, explaining the genesis of this initiative.
This was no surprise to Urbina, who was a longtime creative executive before joining WarnerMedia as vice president of equity and inclusion, pipeline and content. She’d seen the harm that a monochromatic hair and makeup trailer can create firsthand.
“I have seen kids cry because somebody did their hair incorrectly. I’ve also watched people bring their own barbers in,” she recalls. “I’ve also worked with incredible lighting designers and cinematographers who know exactly how to light people of color, and I’ve seen when it goes terribly awry, because somebody didn’t do the make-up properly or the hair looks wrong.”
She continues: “I have had the real privilege to work with people that are incredibly talented and care so much, and I’ve also had the misfortune of working with folks who didn’t have the skills necessary to do the job.”
The first step to ensuring there’s someone in the hair and makeup trailer to do the job properly falls on the producers and those doing the hiring to find them. But, Urbina notes, some people don’t know where to begin.
Fortunately, Warner Bros. had recently formed a relationship that could help address this problem. The company had previously partnered with Black Beauty Roster on the organization’s recent digital summit, which focused on diversifying Hollywood’s beauty industry.
At the beginning of February, WarnerMedia and BBR launched a dedicated support website, where executives and producers can access the lineup of diverse hair and makeup talent across the U.S. and Canada (both union and non-union professionals) to staff the company’s sets and big events (think Comic-Con or DC Fandome). The website also features a section where employees can anonymously ask questions about hair and makeup.
“There are times when people might have concerns that they can’t ask about on set — whether you’re a hair stylist or a producer,” Urbina explains. “There are a lot of things I didn’t know about wigs, when I’ve worked on a couple of shows. I’ve learned a lot over the years. I love that they can just ask it there and get answers from Black Beauty Roster.”
Additionally, WarnerMedia is planning a company-wide webinar to serve as a hair & makeup 101 session, educating its employees on the nuances of textured hair and makeup for people of color. The company will offer in-depth trainings and workshops targeted towards executives and decision makers on allyship and advocacy, as well.
From the BBR perspective, this new partnership continues their mission to foster advocacy and opportunity for diverse beauty professionals.
“As we continue to see more diverse talent in front of the camera, we have to ensure we are diversifying behind the camera as well — especially with hair and makeup. We’ve seen and heard of too many on-set hair and makeup horror stories from talent of color and it’s time we change the narrative,” says Simone Tetteh, Black Beauty Roster co-founder. “We’re thrilled WarnerMedia wants to partner with us to not only diversify the industry but lead the charge by changing it for the better.”
In the new collaboration, the WarnerMedia team will work with Tetteh and the BBR leadership council, which is composed of leading hair and makeup professionals in the industry including Sir John, Kim Kimble, Vernon Francois, and Larry Sims.
“This is a step in the right direction and it is great to see Black Beauty Roster and WarnerMedia working together to bring solutions to hair and makeup needs on set and more opportunity into the industry,” notes Kimble.
The curriculum took six months for WarnerMedia and BBR to build, but Urbina says it’s just the first step to a larger goal.
“Our goal is to be advocates for the industry at large and not just one production or one person,” Urbina explains. “I think that if we are able to have some talent that says at the end of the day, ‘They listened to me. They heard me. They heard our concerns and things changed, that is a win for us.”
To learn more about Black Beauty Roster, visit blackbeautyroster.com.