United States-based celebrity make-up artist Jacquiline Mgido says she started off by pursuing a career as a veterinary doctor before realising it was not her calling.
Mgido (JM), who is also a stylist and chief executive officer of Vault Cosmetics , told Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN) on the platform In Conversation with Trevor that she made the career shift after realising that she was more of an artist than an academic.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
TN: Jacqueline Mgido. I battle with your name. Jacque Mgido I shall call you. Welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.
JM: Oh my gosh. First of all thank you for having me, I am so excited to be here. I cannot even contain myself. I am so excited.
TN: I am so excited to have you.
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You know when the opportunity came, and we heard that you are around town we said why we not do this.
Why are you in town? Why are you in Zimbabwe?
JM: Because I am always doing initiatives for women, I am always inspiring, making sure my team in Zimbabwe is doing great, but at the same time helping other women out.
Right now we have this initiative where we are helping women with a trade.
I believe everybody needs a trade, we need to use these guys right.
We got a bunch of women to come out, and these are underprivileged women, and we are teaching them how to do threading, and threading is a technique where you remove and groom the brows using a thread, because out there women are using razors and I do not want that to happen because it is not sanitary so we are out there.
They are going to be threading and then we are going to give them these pencils that have no lead in them for eyebrows and they are going to sell them and start their businesses.
TN: Wow. Why are you doing this?
JM: Because I am a woman, and I have been blessed. I live out of the country.
I understand how hard it is, and I want women to be independent, and I love my country. I love Zimbabwe.
TN: You have come in. Where are you based by the way?
JM: In LA (Los Angeles).
TN: You are based in LA
TN: You say you are blessed? Talk to me about where your journey started? Where were you born?
JM: I was born in Harare. I lived in Tynwald South. KuTynwald.
As everybody would call it! I left Zimbabwe about 30 years ago, and I was trying to pursue a career in being a vet, because I loved animals so much, but the truth is I actually did not really know what I wanted to do.
I was not much of an academic as what the Zimbabwean educational system would call it.
I was more of an artist, and as you know artists are not really recognised here.
You know it is all about academics.
If you do not know sciences then you are not smart, and I did not know sciences, in fact I did not even like it.
I was more of an artist and I was blessed enough that my parents recognised this, and we were privileged enough that I had siblings that were able to put money together, and I had siblings overseas in St Louis.
And everybody put the money together like we do and I was sent off to St Louis.
TN: So they sent you off to St. Louis to do veterinary studies, but you changed along the way?
JM: Well I changed along the way because my sister, Bessie, who was in St. Louis realised that we were going to be paying a lot of college fees, and this was not going to work out.
And you know, America has a system where they understand that trade is also extremely important.
So my sister was like let us see what is happening here.
Okay what do you really love? And I have always loved makeup and hair and I have always loved those things because I was a very insecure kid and I used my imagination a lot.
So I used to watch TV a lot because in Tynwald my parents were very strict so it was my TV, the goats, the dogs and myself, and my full-on imagination.
I would watch TV and imagine myself in the TV and imagine all that stuff, start putting on makeup and I was also very insecure about my skin colour.
You know because we were told the people that are light are the ones that are beautiful, and I would always watch these things and I would always experiment.
My mom loved makeup, but she was always very natural.
My dad hated the makeup right. So I would be there, and I would put a little makeup and my dad did not know.
He would always look at me and say something is different, but other than that.
TN: Talk to us. Break down your insecurities? What did they look like? What did it feel like?
JM: It is very difficult. I was a child from an extramarital affair.
JM: And my mother was married to my dad, and this baby came along. And it was me.
And my stepmother who I call my mother took me in.
And she raised me like no other, but as a child I moved in when I was six years old.
I knew something was different. I always knew it you know.
You know your parents have done something wrong, you know that there is tension in the family and I have always been an extra sensitive kid, and I would know that something is up and I promised myself that I was going to be a good girl.
And my stepmother was not going to have issues with me from that age, because my grandmother had looked after us and then she passed away and I went to move in with my dad.
The insecurities came from there.
TN: Have you overcome those insecurities? Do you have moments where you have got these attacks of insecurity?
JM: 100%. All the time. You live with those.
TN: How do you deal with it?
JM: A lot of it has to do with, finding, maturing and finding your space in things that make you happy.
For me makeup has really done that for me. Makeup is an escape. It is also a cap and a safety net.
You know when somebody is crying and going through issues, you know you put on your safety cap.
Little concealer, little lip, little mascara, nobody knows what is going on.
TN: A mask of some sort?
JM: Yeah it is a mask of some sort. So you are out there and you do not have to explain why you look the way you look.
TN: You know we are all dealing with issues isn't it? We are all dealing with issues.
JM: Can I just tell you, I think God did that on purpose.
TN: Your coming here, as often happens with people, enables me to share my own insecurities.
When I was young doing Grade...I was very dull by the way. They called me dull.
TN: That is what I was before they discovered that I was dyslexic.
When I was doing Grade 3, there was this teacher that used to say to me you are so ugly, and she was expecting.
You are so ugly, do not look at me, I do not want to give birth to a child who is as ugly and as dark as you.
So I would sit and face the opposite way everybody else was facing.
It is pain that I have carried along with me, but I have found ways of dealing with it, and for me the way of dealing with it has been through God.
Born again Christian, and I run to Him every time, and meditation and that kind of stuff.
So I identify with what you are going through. But the fascinating thing is that you have made us proud!
JM: Thank you.
TN: You have made us proud. You are flying the Zimbabwean flag all the way from LA.
The first black African celebrity makeup artist in Hollywood.
And this is what you have done; an impressive collection of clients.
My favourite man Denzel Washington, Gail King Oprah's best friend., John Legend, wow, Snoop Dogg, Ted Danson, Sylvester Stallone, Jamie Foxx. How have you done this girl?
JM: Again, we do not want to take it away from God, because this has nothing to do with me, it is a favour. It is favour.
TN: Okay. So God has given you the favour?
TN: God has granted you the favour. But how did He enable you to do it? Talk to us about how you did it?
JM: First of all my mother. You know my mother passed away a couple years ago, and I say my mother.
I want to say my stepmother, only because I want people to understand the depth of who this woman was, you know.
She always used to tell us, you always have to know where you are from and understand what you have now can (clicks fingers).
JM: So being good, kind to other people, and being attentive to what your surroundings are. Like I, always very cautious...
TN: Being present.
JM: Being present, and understanding that every single person wants to be seen, is extremely important.
I have always had that.
My mother always taught me that. We grew up a very privileged life.
We had maids, but they never used to want to show us how privileged we were, right.
So my mom used to say the woman that works in this house is my maid not your maid, so you need to be able to do everything.
Yeah just understand that, if you understand that...
TN: Let us just be clear whose house this is. Yeah.
JM: So my dad used to wake us up at 5am in the morning, never used to understand it, like I do not understand why we're up at 5am in the morning.
My dad used to say this is not a hotel, you are not here at a hotel.
So I grew up with that. So when I went out there, to the United States, I made sure that every single job that I ever had, I instilled those things.
I will tell you this, when my parent’s pension and everything went crazy and my parents lost a lot of money, my siblings had also moved on with their lives as well.
So there was not enough money for us, for my college, and I got married very early.
I got married when I was 20. I went to live with my husband and my mother-in-law, and my mother-in-Law...
TN: This is in the US?
JM: In the US, because I went to the US when I was 18. I lived with my sister, then got married and moved in with my husband.
My mother-in-law is American. And when I lived with her I could hear my mom, and my mom used to say you do not want to be that woman that is living in a house without your stuff.
You do not want to ask your mother-in-law for pads, you need to be able to buy those things on your own.
I thought to myself, when you are overseas you cannot work without your papers, and I did not have my papers because we were solving everything, we were trying to figure it all out right?
Again, there is a lot of favour, which has happened to me in the States.
TN: Sounds like.
JM: And we were waiting for my papers, and then all of a sudden I was thinking to myself so what can I do?
And the only thing that you can do in America illegally is being a maid right? So I debated, a maid?
What are people going to say? That is all I can think of.
You know coming from Tynwald, my parents are privileged, and you know Zimbabwe it is very classist, you were here and we are up there.
My mother came back to me, you never know where you are in life.
So I went to work for this woman who was very cruel, and I remember she used to call me in like this (claps hands).
A person like me being called like this?
I grew up in a very proud family, the Muchanyika family was proud, my uncle was one of the first people to be a millionaire in Zimbabwe, and here it is this woman clapping hands and calling me into the lounge.
I remember calling my mother and saying mom woman claps her hands and telling her friends my maid speaks English.