Currently working as Ellen Degeneres makeup artist on The Ellen Degeneres Show David has a very long and impressive CV. He has worked on huge movies including Meet the Fockers, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Memoirs of a Geisha, Star Trek: Enterprise, and as personal makeup artist to many a hollywood legend including; Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Racquel Welch, Shania Twain, Cybil Shepherd, Molly Shannon, Portia De Rossi and Tippi Hedren. David kindly took time to speak to me and share his career stories, and as always I asked him to share some of his pro tips.

David De Leon

MANW: How did you start your career and what was the progression it took?
DDL: I actually started doing makeup in high school when I did the makeup for a school production of Our Town! In my early twenties I was an esthetician/makeup artist in salons and I gradually made the transition to film and television through theatre and no/low budget and student films.

MANW: You mainly work in TV and fillm, did you ever want to work in fashion or beauty?
DDL: The bulk of my work has been television and film but I love fashion and take a lot of inspiration from the print world. I'm also lucky that a lot of my clients will request me for print and red carpet jobs.

MANW: Do you have a preference for the type of jobs and make-ups you like to do? Do you prefer designing films or being personal to one person and straight makeup over effects makeup?
DDL: On my resume you'll see a big cross section of work, from personal to dept. head and effects, to beauty. I do think at this stage though I am primarily sought out for my beauty work which I love!

MANW: What is your process of creating character looks and how much say do you have in the designs? 
DDL: As far as designing a character every production is different. Some directors and show creators have very specific ideas on the look of their characters, some rely totally on my creativity and discretion. A fun example that differed from the norm was Pushing Daisies; Bryan Fuller wanted a total fantasy world that included Old Hollywood and classic 60's mod! Every character was designed by myself and Todd McIntosh with specific film, television and fashion references from Bryan.

MANW: You have worked on some fantastic shows and films with some true legends like Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Cybil Shepherd and Racquel Welch. Can you tell us about some of the stand out moments of your career? 
DDL: There have been so many stand out moments for me; Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek, Angel and working with my Idol Barbra Streisand. Right now I'm having a fantastic time working with Ellen Degeneres!

MANW: You've been in the industry a long time, how do you think it has differed and what advice would you give to new artists starting out?
DDL: The qualities that a makeup artist should have remain the same; great skills, good listener, punctuality and a professional physical presentation (from your kit to your clothes) are all crucial elements to a makeup career. The industry has become less localised and more global in nature, but being in the right place at the right time and being ready for when the opportunities arise is also crucial.

MANW: All artists have 'the wish list'; a face they would love to work on or a show or film they would have loved to have worked on. I would have loved to have worked on Sons of Anarchy, the tattoos and effects by Tracey Anderson were excellent but my current one is Nashville and Connie Britton's hair.  Who or what are yours?
DDL: I would love to work with Meryl Streep but she has thankfully been devoted to her one makeup artist for her entire career so I guess I'll just continue to enjoy their collaboration like the rest of the world does. There are so many amazing faces I have yet to paint, I couldn't name them all.

MANW: On to the good stuff, what are your tricks for flawless looking skin?
DDL:  Flawless looking skin is really a marriage between deft painting and blending and good lighting.

MANW: What are your top 5 holy grail kit products? 
DDL: Beauty blender sponges, urban decay eyeshadow palettes, skin illustrator palettes, Armani cream foundation and Evian spray.

MANW: What's your best make-up artist tip to give women?
DDL: Keep it simple and find what works for your face and be open to adjusting for age and fashion. 

MANW: Finally, false eyelashes - the longer the better or enough already they look ridiculous?
DDL: I personally loooove lashes, but they may be a bit much for daytime. Lol!

For more info on David visit his website here or follow him on Twitter here.

If you liked this interview and would like to read other leading industry makeup artists stories have a look at the rest of the series here.


  1. These Q and As really helpful for aspirants like me. I want to be one of the best makeup artist in the Philippines, like Rea Pinpin.

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