Some people hit the strip club for nudity. Sheika Daley goes for beauty inspiration. In fact, that’s where the makeup artist, who works with names like Nicki Minaj and Serena Williams, got her start after a stint at a MAC makeup counter.
“The money intrigued me, but the ability to be free creatively is what drew me in,” Daley says. “I could see what lighting does, what different glitters do, and how long glosses last. But I knew that I didn't want to be there forever.”
Eventually, Daley became a makeup assistant on The Oprah Winfrey Show: Fridays Live. Through word of mouth, that gig led her to working with artists like Trina, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé. And though her strip club days are long behind her, she’s still perfecting her craft — with the best of the best, no less.
“I’ve stalked Pat McGrath forever and would comment on all of her posts,” says Daley. “She invited me out for Fashion Week last year, and I’ve been working with her ever since!”
Daley says that even though the beauty industry has become more inclusive, it can still be surprisingly narrow-minded. “Sometimes, people feel like you only know how to do Black makeup because you are Black,” she says. “I’m an artist, just like everyone else. I wish we got a chance to show that.”
Daley’s proving any doubters wrong with every job. And she says she has no plans to slip up any time soon, thanks to some advice from the wisest one herself. “Oprah told me that whatever you do, do the best job you possibly can. And people will notice.”
Black Is The New Black is Refinery29’s celebration of 20 Black women who kicked down doors in their fields this past year. Black women who are reminding the world that we are not a trend or “a moment.” We’re here — and we’ve been here. Check out the full list.