Makeup artist Joey Roo is travelling the world to share their expertise in applying foundation on Indigenous models.
Roo, 28, from Simpcw First Nation’s Band, started working full-time as a makeup artist at the beginning of March, and they are soon jetting off to Indigenous fashion shows in Australia and Paris.
“It’s honestly just a dream. To be around Indigenous designers and models, [and] to have that sense of community all around the world is incredible.”
At the event in Australia, Roo will be showing other makeup artists and models how to use MisMack foundation, a product that caters to a variety of skin colours. Roo will ensure that the foundation is applied and correctly matches each of the models’ skin tones.
The makeup company, which Roo works for full-time, is giving pallets to the Indigenous models and makeup artists in attendance.
Roo hopes that with their work, no Indigenous models will be sent out in “white face” – a term for when makeup makes a model’s skin look lighter, and which Roo says is still all too common. And, there’s a distinct lack of options available to BIPOC makeup-wearers at supermarkets and major retailers in Australia, and in Canada.
“It literally just breaks my heart, that in the year 2022, that [whiteface] is still happening,” they say.
Indigenous fashion around the world
Roo is represented by Fashion Speaks International, an Indigenous modelling and fashion consulting agency in Kamloops, which is involved in organizing Indigenous fashion weeks around the world. The show in Australia is said to be the first ever all Indigenous fashion show in the country, says agency owner Kim Coltman, who has partnered with two Indigenous fashion designers in Australia.
“I’ve been building a coalition of [Indigenous] fashion industry professionals now for the last six years. And we work with Indigenous people from Singapore, out of France, out of Australia, out of New Zealand, all throughout Turtle Island,” she says.
“So we’ve really been making worldwide connections and trying to bring Indigenous people together worldwide.”
Makeup was part of healing journey
More locally, Roo will also be providing makeup services at Victoria Eco Fashion Week at the end of April.
Roo says they are living their best life, trotting the globe as a professional makeup artist.
“When I was little I would watch TV, and watch Gossip Girl, and I would see them going to fashion shows and lavish events, and now that’s my life,” they said, speaking to IndigiNews by phone.
Roo spent time living in Victoria when they were in their early 20s, where they went through a lot of trauma and loss. By 2019 they moved back to Kamloops, closer to where they grew up, and began to heal. Makeup artistry was a major factor in that process.
“It was part of my healing journey, and I was doing it as a creative outlet and then my neighbour asked me to do her makeup at her engagement party,” they say.
“I got to the party and then all the other girls were like ‘Can you do my makeup too?” and I thought to myself ‘Well I better start charging for this!’”
For several years, Roo worked in construction as a drywaller while freelancing as a makeup artist on the side. Gradually, their skills improved, and eventually photos of their makeup work were published.
Some of their work was also displayed at the Salmon Arm Art Centre, during which a curator introduced them to Missy Mack, the owner of MisMack, a local makeup company in Kamloops. The pair hit it off, and she invited Roo to work at her new Victoria storefront. Roo returned to the island, and started the job in March.
“I was a full-time drywall labourer,” they said. “And now I’m a full-time makeup artist.”