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Meet Carol Rasheed – The Makeup Artist Behind The Color Purple


courtesy of Carol Rasheed

“I’ve been in the business for a very long time, over three decades,” makeup artist, Carol Rasheed tells ESSENCE. At 17 years old, Rasheed started working in makeup at a popular department store in her hometown of Winter Haven, Florida. Whether it was her first makeup job, a Disney hair and makeup gig, or her most recent masterpiece on set of The Color Purple, Rasheed feels like her career has been “divinely ordered.” 

After a six month-long interview process, landing the job felt incredibly rewarding for Rasheed. Upon beginning the project, she created mood boards for the four main characters: Celie, Shug, Sofia, and Mister. The boards showed the director, from beginning to end, how their makeup– the lipstick shades especially– would evolve with the characters’ development over time. 

Fantasia’s character, Celie, for example, “starts out young, and then she goes to middle age, and then older age,” Rasheed says. “She’s in fantasy scenes where I get to paint her face with lipstick and a little color and lash on the eyes,” she continues. Unlike Brooks, who’s lip color was more pigmented to represent Sofia’s personality, Fantasia’s character was more demure at the start of the film. As the story progressed, “She really got to a place where she was confident, so that’s why I decided to go with a cooler-toned red,” Rasheed says. “For Sofia, out of all the characters, she was pretty bold, pretty resilient, and she’s this chocolate, beautiful color,” which went into the makeup artist’s selection of sweet, berry tones.

From affirmation to evolution, The Color Purple even inspired Rasheed’s personal makeup line, Evolution Of Rouge, which includes a trio of Oprah’s Favorite Things-approved red lipstick shades. “In the movie, my goal was to make sure not one single character had the same shade of red,” she says. For “Fantasia’s particular color, I went through so many different mixings and custom blendings to make sure she didn’t have a red that looked like Sofia’s red,” the character played by Danielle Brooks. 

Other than lipstick, characters like Colman Domingo, as Mister, had their personal evolution, too. At the beginning, his handsome, yet rugged look evolved into a “dirtier” appearance. To represent this, Rasheed used makeup to discolor his face, flush out his skin, and even lay fake facial hair for his muddy drunken scene. “The thing about developing characters is that you follow the flow of the script, which I did for Mister and Sofia as well,” she says. “What I learned from working in the industry is that [makeup] is about more than just painting a pretty face,” Rasheed adds. “Makeup can make you look sad. It can make you look happy. It can make you look old. It can make you look dead.” That said, “it’s important to understand that it is more than just beauty,” she says; a lesson she teaches her students at her TV and Film Makeup Academy in Atlanta.

And even after seeing the story come together and watching the film, her work on screen still flooded her with uncontrollable emotion. “When you’re working on the project, you don’t really recognize what’s happening,” Rasheed says. “To see it all from the beginning to the end, I sat in the movie theater and cried. I didn’t realize it was going to have that kind of impact on me.”


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