Hollywoods First Black Makeup Artist Bernadine Anderson

In Honor of black history month and the people who contributed to our country and culture. We at WBM spotlight the men and women who have paved the way for Black and Brown people in beauty and fashion. During a time when Blacks in entertainment on and off the big screen were rare and far and in between, Bernadine Anderson, Hollywood’s first African American female makeup artist, was breaking down barriers and opening doors for many Black and Brown MUAs that came after her. Anderson found it difficult to get work in film during the 60s. “They just wouldn’t let minorities in. It was a harsh industry to break; no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t break it.“ Anderson stated in an interview. Determined to follow her dream,  Anderson filed a class action lawsuit for being discriminated against. This led her to earn a history-making 3-year apprenticeship that would launch her career with Warner Brothers Studio, the very last one they would ever offer. She was trained to work with actors, actresses, stuntmen, doubles, triples, and even quadruples. Her role was to ensure the stuntmen looked identical – which included figure, hair, and face – to the primary actor.

 Jane Fonda and Bernadine Anderson at the 2015 Hollywood Beauty Awards where Anderson was presented with The Outstanding Achievement in Makeup Award.

In the early 70s, a chance encounter with Jane Fonda led her to a very close working relationship that spanned over eight years until she decided to take a break. She then moved on to become the head of makeup for the movie “Coming to America” (1988) and led the Makeup Department as the Supervisor for Vampire on Brooklyn (1995). She has been working with Eddie Murphy personally for eight years. As well as working on their classic Black movies like “What’s Love Got To Do with It” (1993,) “Boomerang” (1992), “Bad Company”(1995,) and “Harlem Nights (1989).Thank you, Ms. Anderson, for standing up and paving the way for many Black Makeup Artists to follow in your path and for making your mark in the industry. 

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