We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Cozart Burton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Many years ago someone told me – for your career, do what you would do for free and you’ll never work a day in your life. I am ever so grateful to have followed that advice. I am an artist/creator at heart. I live to create beauty in every part of my life. Choosing a career based on that creativity has helped me thrive and succeed. My life as a makeup artist, wife, mother and domestic goddess (my self title!) have lent outlets to my expression of art in so many ways. I encourage every young person that looks to me for advice to make sure they look to their passions when choosing a career – it truly does make a difference in how success is measured and achieved.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My job is to make performers visually become the characters they portray. Through the mediums of television, film and stage, I’ve transformed mere mortals into beauty queens, monsters, historical figures and even objects. I truly believe that the reason I can look back on my career as a success is my passion for creativity and dedication to excellence in all that I do. The steps up to where I am today were lined with many helping hands – I continue to LEARN. I learn from mentors, from those that ask for mentoring from me, from media and sometimes just willingness to take a leap and experiment. I’d like to think that when my end story is written, more than anything I’d like to be remembered as someone who always strived for quality, class and excellence in executing my work. In the beginning, my biggest obstacles were overcoming racism and sexism in my craft. I was breaking into a career that was historically white and male as a Black woman. The opportunities offered to me were often pigeonholed to what the industry thought I should be offered and not necessarily what I was capable of. I worked hard on not getting discouraged while constantly proving myself and doing so while knowingly being paid less and recognized less than my peers. I kept my head down, stayed focused, honed my skills and built my career anyway. The result has been that though I didn’t get every break, I got enough to be very proud of the life I made for myself and super pleased to leave the path a little more clear for those who are coming up after me. I feel a virtual baton passing behind me that continues the legacy of the baton that was passed TO me from the trail blazers prior to my ascent.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m probably the low key type of host! Depending on the age and relationship of the visitor, a week long trip could include a variation of a Disneyland trip or a drag brunch! I am a big foodie and chef groupie so I’d call my friends to get recommendations on the latest cool eatery to take guests to. My tastes are quite eclectic – I love Thai food, so a trip to Thai Town for food and massages would be a must! I also may do a coastline drive to Santa Barbara & stay overnight at The Four Seasons – one of my faves. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I consider my mentor, makeup artist Wynona Price, to be my opening door to a successful career. She was one of the only 5 Black makeup artists in my union at the time. She recognized my talent and knew that it would be an uphill battle for me to break in without an ally to give me a chance – she became that ally. She hired me on shows, recommended me to others, and supported me as I learned and grew. I always describe her as the friend who opened the door for me, held it and trusted that once I made it through, I would make her proud and hold my own. I dedicate my Emmy win to my mentor and dear friend.
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