Sir John opens up about activism, Black women in beauty and more

Exclusive: The renowned makeup artist and L'Oreal USA creative director chats with theGrio's Steven London in this exclusive interview.

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In an exclusive interview with theGrio, accomplished makeup artist Sir John opens up about the beauty industry, his unique perspective and the glaring need for more diversity — not just in front of the lens, but behind it.

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The globally-renowned creative director for L’Oreal USA and an activist in his own right, Sir John has plenty to say and a history to undergird it. His resume speaks for itself, including being named InStyle‘s 2016 Makeup Artist of the Year, working exclusively as Beyoncé‘s makeup artist and so much more. In a layered conversation with theGrio, John opened up about his perspective in an ever-changing world and shared how pushing for change in the cosmetics industry is a big part of pushing for a better world overall.

Makeup artist Sir John attends the 2019 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in February. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Revealing what inspired him to be such a vocal advocate for activism, he shared with theGrio‘s Steven London, “You know, someone told me, ‘You don’t become an activist, you become activated.’ So, when I say that, that means like, when you feel something happening, when you see something, when you feel the rumbles and you’re the one on the front lines … just making sure I am there. You have a responsibility and obligation when you get called to a higher space or stoop, chair, balcony — whatever that looks like — to also hold space.”

Speaking up for what is right is the most important thing, even if it risks professional gains, he shared. “Taking up space also means being a truth teller, even if you feel like you’re gonna lose your contracts, licensing deals and things like that. Making sure that you are advocating for voices that don’t go in the same rooms that you are in.”

He took time to break down the glaring representation issues in the beauty industry, saying it “has such an obligation to make sure that we are all seeing ourselves properly, or we all are represented … as we look at beauty editors, as we look at fashion directors, I grew up in a business where we had to learn everything about them. But, I look at my friends who are white beauty editors; just now, today, they are learning what edge control is … things that have nothing to do with the white demographic.”

“I’m happy that we’re here,” Sir John continued, “but this should have happened a long time ago.”

Check out theGrio‘s full interview with him below.

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