Festival Chat With Makeup Department Expert Justi Embree

What drew you into a life of entertainment? 

Every time, I sat in front of a big or small screen, I felt inspired. 

When I came up, there were not as many “Stars” or media outlets as there are now, to be at home by 8pm was honestly, popcorn worthy. 

I loved to watch a good western or musical on one of the 8 channels available to tune in to. I sang along with the musicals then, and I still do, now. 

You may often find me humming a tune from “The Little House of Horrors,” while pulling my trolly of gear, through one of many Studios lots on any day of the week. 

Listen, 20 years ago I was taken by the “magic” of Hollywood, and I am still excited! 

Gratefully, today we have so much more content to choose from. Streaming has opened a whole new world of artistic opportunities for creatives and crews. 

For hairstylists, it is a wonderful opportunity to create consistently, and for us, continuing to perform our work on a continuous basis is key to keeping our skills sharp and creative juices flowing. 

What are your days like? 

That’s hard because what I do each day is not at all consistent. That is one of the features I love most about my days. 

Some days I may work on principal cast then carefully watch a monitor to make sure every detail is perfect for continuity purposes and easy editing. 

While other days I create wigs, read scripts, and attend production meetings via ZOOM. 

One thing consistent each day is that once production begins, I must stay flexible and aware of any changes! Changes in the production schedule. 

Changes in the script. Time is of the essence, so, when I am involved with a project, from the planning phase through end, it’s showtime! 

What’s your favorite project? 

It is hard choosing a favorite because my work has appeared in a few classic movies, I love like, “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” and “The Best Man Holiday.” 

But my favorite project so far has been Department Heading the Sony film, “Missing,” the 2023 stand-alone sequel to “Searching.” 

The plot was developed through screen devices such as, cams and cell phones. 

“Screenlife” is a new genre’. Creating new creative obstacles to master. Also, working with strong women leads, Storm Reid and Nia Long was powerful experience. 

Creating the “June Wig” for Storms character took a village. Seeing it on screen and knowing the energy it took to make it look effortless, that’s a win! 

Working on Ant-Man and the Wasp:  Quantumania, Woah! Being in the presence of greats such as Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Michelle Pheiffer will remain some of my most memorable moments. 

To witness and become a part of Marvel history was a goal of mine. So, it felt like I got a new high score! 

It was a ton of fun with a phenomenal group of people. 

Where do Apps and Instagram filters fall short when it comes to beauty and the artistry behind it? 

In truth, software and filters were available to alter film and photos long before apps were made available to the public. 

For, example, in post- production, Colorists are used to polish the finished look of a film. I got pictures of my work retouched professionally in the early 2000. Although quite a bit of time has passed, Graphic Art is still a lane. 

I think this is where apps and filters fall short. They mostly appeal to a generic audience and somewhat mute the originality of the art. 

Something gets lost during the process of oversimplifying the app. Flaws say, human. 

On the flipside users need apps and filters to be user friendly because they are not professionals. When it comes to beauty, a great artist with a keen eye for detail, that will never go out of style. 

Somehow, people inherently know when it is inauthentic or the real McCoy. 

In fact, you can find me on Instagram @embreetheory. I share the knowledge that I have acquired during the past 20+ in the beauty industry. Useful stuff. 

Tried and true reliable ways get and maintain the healthiest hair. It is my goal every year for one person to get healthy hair. If I can do that, I’m overpaid. So, come check me out. 

Any Advice For Newcomers? What are some good first steps?

First things first. Document your work. Next, set up an account on a social media platform such as Instagram or TiKtok dedicated to posting your work. 

Be consistent and intentional about showcasing your talents and milestones. 

How much content you have or likes, is not important, both will build over time, along with your credibility. In the beginning you can use your platform to show off your skill range to potential connections. 

If you are not already tech savvy or know how to crop photos a good starting point is to watch YouTube videos on the topic. Also, connect with other creatives. We don’t do it alone. It takes community! 

The universe will propel opportunity towards whatever you prioritize. Most importantly, enjoy the ride. It takes all the stops along the way, to cultivate all that is needed, to become a Boss. Have FUN! 

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