Interview with American Beauty Star’s Sarah Brown

  • How would you describe Lifetime’s American Beauty Star?

American Beauty Star is a competition show where makeup artists and hair stylists are the contestants. They complete challenges each week where they “beauty direct” a look head to toe, from hair and makeup to nails and wardrobe. Adriana Lima is the host; photographer Russell James and I are judges, and makeup artist Sir John is the mentor. It is on Lifetime on Thursday evenings at 10:30 PM EST and 9:30 PM PST. It’s really fun and full of hair and makeup d-r-a-m-a.


  • How do you see your role as judge both alike and different from your previous position in the beauty business?

This role is similar to that of an editor in that I am asked to scout talent and to look at both a body of work and individual assignments in order to consider what will, and will not, work within the context of the beauty and fashion industries, print and social media. As a judge, I also critique each contestant’s work, giving feedback that is hopefully useful to him or her, and gives some perspective of what we in the industry are looking for when we book talent to be part of a team backstage or on set, and what it takes to build a successful career as a celebrity stylist, brand builder and entrepreneur.


  • What are your key criteria for successful hair and makeup?

We judge on creativity and execution, as well as the ability to work well together and under pressure—the pressure of strict time limits, and the pressure of competition. Since it is a show divided into challenges, we also judge on whether or not we feel the assignment has been met. Depending on the challenge, we consider: Would this look make it on an editorial shoot—would a magazine or website publish the resulting image? Would this play on social media? Would we hire this person to be part of an editorial team—were they creative, skilled, and professional enough? Would a red carpet or salon client be happy with the look; would it photograph well, and would it work for real life?


  • What are your feelings about your new role in beauty?

I think it’s the most exciting, challenging, dizzying moment in all of our industries—beauty, fashion, publishing, media. So much is changing, so fast, but there is so much opportunity to forge new paths, reinvent how things are done, and be part of that change in meaningful and really just exhilarating ways. The exciting thing is that the future is wide open, so I personally have been really enjoying getting new experience across many different layers of the industry, doing what I love and finding new things I never knew I’d love—like being on a TV show!


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