Internet trolls — we love to hate them. But alas, they exist in full force, hiding behind their keyboards or smartphones. On Thursday, Empire actress Taraji P. Henson posted what was supposed to be a fun, light-hearted selfie showing her resemblance to Michael Jackson to her 12.3 million followers. What she didn’t anticipate was a social media firestorm targeting her longtime glam team, including makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff.
Fans quickly tried to roast Sheriff for her “lack of skill” and what they thought was a “washed out” makeup look. She quickly responded by posting a side-by-side of the look with different lighting, which we all know makes a big difference. Sheriff (who has worked with celebs including Meagan Good, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alicia Keys, Jordin Sparks, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson — the list goes on) also included a lengthy caption clapping back at her naysayers.
“Lighting makes a major difference in how your makeup appears. Taraji has a yellow undertone and in her trailer, the lights are fluorescent. Whereas in the #makeuptrailer, the lights are natural light bulbs. Anyone who is a pro knows that fluorescent lighting will turn your skin tone green and make you appear ashy,” she writes.
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“I’ve done Taraji’s makeup for many many years, in fact, many celebrities, and I was reluctant to address this but I decided it was necessary to teach you novice makeup artists and people who don’t know lighting whatsoever that it does affect how your makeup looks. Furthermore, makeup for TV, red carpet, editorial, film etc. are all different mediums and makeup reads differently depending on the format used, cameras, lighting, background, hair color, clothing etc,” Sheriff adds.
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Sheriff, who has over 20 years of experience, reminds the ‘gram “not to come for my job or my talent cause the work speaks for itself. I’m so damn tired of people throwing stones and don’t even understand the technicalities involved when it comes to #makeup, #hair, or #fashion and be so quick to judge people’s work without knowing all the technicalities involved.”
Sheriff credits rapper Diddy for introducing her to the intricacies of lighting. "When I started working with him as his groomer in the early 2000s, he would direct camera crews on how to light his skin," she tells Allure. "He knew and had learned from experience that his rich brown skin with a cool undertone needed warm lighting. That’s when I began to pay attention. When I worked with all of my clients I started behind the cameraman checking to make sure they were lit properly."
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In a more recent post, Sheriff pens, “We rise when we lift one another up not tear one another down. Let me add I was never upset about the MJ or Jackson comparison because we laughed about it too. It’s when people track your livelihood or your craft without knowing the facts first or seeing all the evidence. Everyone is so quick to tear each other down. That’s my issue and the reason why I decided to speak. I know my work speaks for itself I see it daily on the silver screen. It’s not about defending this is baby educating, period.”
If you find yourself in a pickle because of lighting, Sheriff has a pro tip: "When taking a selfie, warmer-toned lighting will always be most flattering and make you look closer to your natural skin tone."
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