Music & Makeup (part 2)


What was happening? At this moment Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” entire album was playing in my mind. What the hell was going on with my life?!?!!!!

I’d started out one way but now it’s another? I was a performer but now I seemed to be moving more behind the scenes becoming a Makeup Artist? What about music, what about my voice overs (I’d done a few while in HS), what about my auditions, what about MY ART, MY VOICE?! Where was this going,cause whatever it was it was taking me there (where?) QUICKLY AND IN ANOTHER DIRECTION! I didn’t have an instruction manual for what was happening.

I was remembering High School at that moment. Remembering how I was always a colorful bird. Always busy drawing, doing music,singing, dancing and travelling. I was around other Artists and performing…it’s what we as working performing students did.

My peers lives were moving quickly right before my eyes in HS they’d found their voices!!! It was the cards they’d been dealt and they took that bull by its horns and rode that thing as far as it would allow them to go!

My peers in HS were Kadeem Hardison, Malik Yoba, Corey Glover (lead vocalist of the Black Rock Band “Living Color”), Brenda K Starr and Lisa Lisa (lead vocalist of the pop group Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam). We’d sung in the same choir that performed all over The Tri State Area in New York. We were called “Talent Unlimited Travelling Troupe”. This group consisted of singers, musicians and dancers and I was part of that group.

While in HS touring with this group we’d all heard about Brenda K (Kaplan) Starr, having a single out it was on the radio and pretty popular! There was a buzz all over school about it. And then all of a sudden one of my besties Lisa Velez (who used to style my hair on tour and I would do her makeup in fact everyone’s makeup, sometimes picking out clothes too) had a single out too and it even superseded Brenda’s single!! We all were happy for them but never saw them again (well I eventually would again, but in another capacity)

My then boyfriend Corey Glover was in the group as well but, had an Acting career jump off for him and he went with it but music was in his blood too! He wound up singing lead for a band that was ground breaking in the Rock Music world… the band was “Living Color” which broke the mold because they’re album was a hit and being played on the radio in rotation! The hit single was called “The Cult of Personality”.

Well, next thing we all knew was Kadeem who was strictly in the Drama department in school (and not part of Traveling Troupe) had auditioned and landed a part on some TV Show and he took flight from school. That show was called “A Different World”

These were my peers (I’m still so very proud of all of them and their work to this day). I’d been working too doing voice overs for commercials here and there (i was cast in Stevie Wonder’s music video “Part Time Lover” wearing a big ol crown in the front) but I knew my BIG break was coming. I’d gotten wind of an audition for an upcoming TV show that required during the audition that you be able to sing, dance and act.

I’d heard about the audition from my friend and play big brother Malik Yoba who’d auditioned for another TV show himself and got a lead part the show. That show was called “New York Undercover”. He said “Nzingha you can kill that audition I know it go for it Miss Thang, Thang!” He gave me the address and so at his encouragement I went.

At the audition the first part consisted of cold script reading and an impromptu dance routine you had to learn on sight. I had a monologue and song prepared that had me play flute and sing. The line for the audition was around the block all 4 corners literally! I was on the first corner. A man was walking around and looked like he was assessing the line and taking a head count.

He grabbed a few people off the line and I happened to be one who he grabbed and walked a handful of us past the line into one of the auditioning rooms. Another guy outside told people thank you and you can go home now! My heart was racing now…no screaming!! There were a panel of five men and women. The one man got up and had us line up and pointed at each one and told us to step forward.

He looked at me and said can you cold read? I nodded and he gave me a sheet of dialogue to read but didn’t lead me or tell me what the story was about he just said ….”GO!” I read a paragraph and 3 sentences from the second. He cut me off and said ok and pointed at me.

Suddenly some young guy came over with a paper and tape and tagged me…I was immediately taken to another room with my duffle bag dragging. The guy who initially bought me in was now bringing in a new batch of people.

The room was pretty dank smelling and there were 15 others tagged auditioners in the room. It was fairly quiet. One girl was stretching. This guy who was sitting on the floor next to me said “So you made it? I saw you outside.”

I didn’t remember seeing him though. But even before I could answer him, a woman came in the room pretty jazzy looking and in fabulous dancers Danskin wear stood in front of us.

“So you’ve made it to the second portion of the audition process. I’m going to teach you a quick dance routine hope you learn it …because we’re gonna go back in the room with the executive producers and you’re gonna perform it in front if them.”

I was bugging out you mean to tell me I’d made it this far and I didn’t even know what was happening?!? Shoot let me snap out of it!! She began the routine. We were all following behind her. The girl that was stretching before in the corner was killing it! She was sent straight back into the room with the producers.

I’d picked up on the routine and felt confident enough. The guy who tagged me originally came back in the room it had only been maybe like 20-30minutes or so. He lead us back across the hall. We were in front of those same producers (my heart is pounding even now as I’m writing this remembering the feeling I felt).

Another woman dancer was in charge now and lead us in the dance. I remember so many people shifting. They turned on the record and they split the group in half I was in the second half. That guy who was talking to me was in the first half and boy was he messing up! He was immediately chopped and several others only 3 were left.

Then they swept them out and the three were tagged and taken out to another room to perform their musical piece. It was now my turn to dance. I thought I’d die cause I had a knot in my throat that wouldn’t go away. I heard my Moms and Malik’s voice in my head.

The dance started it was sharp and modern I remember but I know I did it and wrecked it!!! I was a good dancer. And yes honey they tagged me again!!! YESSSSSSS!!! I was lead to the next room and performed a jazz piece and sung a few bars of “Home” from the play The Wiz.

They huddled… I thought I would wet my pants for sure now. I was nervous now and felt something strange happening in my body and mind. They had me come up closer to the table in front of them and just began talking to me casually asking questions. This made me feel better. And guess what? They liked me!!!!!! They wanted me to fly out to LA for a final audition!!!!! I was still underage so I needed my Mothers permission and a chaperone.


But I made it!!!!! I ran home to tell my Mom who was floored. I called Malik and he was like yeah girl! That night they called my house to speak with my Mother (who knew the industry and asked them a myriad of questions). The following week I was scheduled to fly out (their compliments) to LA for the audition. I can hear my Grandma screaming now! She was over the moon. They’d both come to all shows I was in, went with me to every audition and now this.This was bigger than anything I’d ever done before.

That week Mom was squaring away a few things for the trip and packing things for me too. During one evening my Mom answered the phone and was talking low but tensely. She said to me “Zing, sit down I wanna talk to you. We’re not gonna be going to LA booboo. They chose someone else for the part. I’m so sorry baby, there’ll be others, you’ll see.”

I cried for days…I didn’t do anything for a month. Malik was gone now so I couldn’t even talk to him, the one who sent me to the audition in the first place. What was the TV show you ask? The show was called “FAME” adapted for a weekly format and the part I was auditioning for was the character named Cleo.

Who got the part? None other than the world famous Janet Jackson (who I loved from Good Times, Different Strokes and her then album Dream Street. I loved her and always have and always will!!! I wound up years later working with her…as her Makeup Artist on the JANET Tour 1993. That’s for another post later here on The Glam Squad Files)!! There was no competition!!! Hands down.

We never spoke of that audition again in my home nor about the show.

Part 3…coming soon



Music & Makeup (part 1)


MUSIC & MAKEUP ??? (Part 1)


There is one thing all people have in common and that is the love for music.

There is a frequency in the earth that calms even the most raging storms. And there are people who create this frequency called music …these creators of that frequency are called musicians.

Even they (the musicians) themselves can be as tumultuous as the earth and natures elements, yet are capable of bringing harmony.

Even before there were “moving pictures”(movies) there was music. Music is the voice of social consciousness. It’s everywhere on every movie set, TV set, Fashion set creating a feeling to be somehow captured on celluloid.

In music a sound can be transcribed to a note and a note on paper to describe that sound in a series of written frequencies called “bars and notes”.

But…,okay now how do you translate a sound to a look? And translate one who creates a sound creating that frequency called music? The look of a musician.



On June 28, 1967 in New York City was born an “Artistic Aesthetic Medium Translator”given the name NZINGHA which also carried it’s own frequency…to one man who is a frequency shifter (musician/media artist) and one woman an intellectual ingenue (artist/model/educator).

Ok, I’m gonna stop toying with words and give it to you how it was and is (laughing right now).

I was born in NYC to a Jazz Musician & Media Artist Father and a Model/Artist and Teacher Mother.

My Godparents were all Jazz Musicians Drummer Max Roach and Jazz Vocalist Abbey Lincoln and Actor Frank Adu.

I grew up with Jazz Music being the frequency most heard in my home. I was consistently surrounded by the elitist Jazz Intellegencia and fine artists. At home and even once passing through at a dinner party Dizzy Gillespie who I would encounter again in Jr High School to instruct one of my music classes. That early indoctrination to music and art formed a never ending love for me.


Early on I’d shown musical aptitude in school so my Mother had me take private music lessons and studying art because I was fairly good at painting and sketching as well.

In Jr. High School I was involved in an intensive music program (that had us in various school competitions) that had me playing in the schools band and as one of the bands soloists and singing in the school’s chorus (love and thanks to Mr. Vinas my music teacher).

All of this rigorous training was preparation for what would come later. I would be soon be accepted to a Performing Arts High School auditioning and accepted as a Music Major and Art Minor in addition to the schools Honors Program which toted pre collegiate courses with Law being one of my interests in that program.

My instruments of choice in school were the Flute/Piccolo and Piano. I was determined to become like my then idol Jazz Musician Bobby Humphrey.

In this school, I was surrounded by all types of other Artists not just music. I was fascinated by how each department would operate…dancers singers, artists and my second year I’d switched majors and minors , leaving music and art for musical theater and dance. I drove my Mom crazy with this switch!

Finally graduating as a Dance Major and Musical Theater Minor. Mother always had her eyes set on me being a lawyer and give up all the frivolous artistic stuff which appeared to her as transient due to my annually switching majors! (I can laugh now but it sure wasn’t funny then).



So, fast forward…how did you become this Makeup Artist??? I’m confused you’re saying to yourself at thus point right?

Well…, I was always a well groomed young lady and would not leave my house unless I was spot on with Makeup and Hair…it was the 80’s (all about Makeup and BIG HAIR)!!! My influences weren’t fashion or movies but music and musicians…we were a unique breed.

During all school performances I was always applying Makeup to myself and to the other performers as well it just came with being a performer. For auditions I was always Makeup and Hair ready (those tales will be for another post). Not to mention my Mum being a former model showing me how to groom myself.

I was always around musicians it was natural for me to be prepared for any performance, I was a musician. So doing makeup was natural just as a means of grooming. Musicians weren’t actors or models…they were always a separate entity that would create their own look much like the sounds they created.

It was the 80’s Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner all influencers. We, wore tube skirts, rubbers for bracelets, cut up jeans, spray your hair up so high no one could see around you. This was art…music art, music fashion. Calvin Klien sold pristine jeans but in the hands of a musician depending on who it was would wind up precision ripped or precision ironed…either way it was transformed from it’s original state.



After HS and during college I found myself still involved in the arts by night but by day doing retail cosmetics in Bloomingdales.

The pressure at home to settle in and get a “real job” was the voice of reason (My Mother). A “real job” to her found me no longer in cosmetic retail but now teaching for the NY Board of Education! Yes I was a teacher now!!! Unhappy but a person with what was considered a more “respectable profession”.


I cant remember now but, I met this makeup artist who saw some work I’d done on the side while working as a teacher and asked me if I wanted to assist her on this photo shoot for a hair magazine doing makeup.

“Well I’m no makeup artist” I said…but I did it anyway she had me do two models. Those models wound up being the opening pages and cover of that magazine!

She called me again not knowing that the magazine chose my girls as the cover and main page. I didn’t know at the time either. She asked me to help her again and said “Uhh look I have this music video I’m doing and I need good makeup assistants and you’re strong in makeup honey. Can you do it?” I was reluctant and told her “Look this ain’t my thing, I don’t know anything about videos or makeup really. But, just out of curiosity how much will it pay?”

When she told me how much I would get paid for the day, I said “I’m in!” It was more than I’d ever been paid in a day even at Bloomingdales! It was a really popular R&B musician with a number one hit that was currently on the radio, that we were about to do the accompanying video for. It was music my comfort zone.

She had me come to the production meeting with her. I caught on quickly what they were saying in preparation to shoot the video. Now after the meeting, we set out to meet the artist…he was sitting in a chair in the adjacent dressing room. He had on a pristine green suit. She introduced me to him and he said “Oh, I saw you standing outside, I thought you were one of the models. So you’re doing my makeup?”. I said “No, I’m just assisting.”

The Makeup Artist called me the night before and said calmly “NZINGHA…emergency, I can’t do the job. I got an even bigger opportunity so you’ll have to do it. Everybody already met you and they’re comfortable with you replacing me.” I was in shock and scared remember I’d never done this before and now to be thrust into a major position!!! PANIC!!! My first music video! I called her what seemed like every hour (bless her she walked me through everything)! And back then there were only land lines so that meant I had to step off set!!

I remembered crying my eyes out in panic in the bathroom during crew lunch break. But I faked my way through the day and after it was all said and done the director never complained about my makeup or corrected anything or even called for touch ups , seems somehow I knew I had to be on it! The video had different vignettes with food in it!!! That meant possible makeup disaster for my first time out?!!!

The Artist was Freddie Jackson and the song was called “Main Course”. Freddie and I got along famously taking about music and harmonic chords and just music stuff. Finally the day was over. I’d done my first music video ever. It would now become part of my resume!


Not even a couple of days later after the video, I got a call from the production company booking me for a commercial and a series of Record Label EPK’s (Electronic Press Kits/ Video’s for retailers Introducing the musicians to the labels CEO’s and Record stores for selling their albums)


Part 2 Coming Soon

M.A.C Pro Event Night Featuring the Artistry of : Val Garland


M.A.C Pro Event Night Featuring the artistry of:
Val Garland
Written by NZINGHA

How do you get a room full of Professional Makeup Fashionistas all in one place?! By planning an event that even the Best of the Best won’t want to miss, serve a glass of Champagne, invite the “Who’s Who” of the Behind the scenes industry Makeup Elite, have “RESERVED” seating and feature the Stylized Eclectic Artistry of Makeup Influencer: VAL GARLAND….,thats how!! M.A.C Pro had really done it this time and pulled out all the stops for this nights event.

The event was held at one of New York’s famous photo studios in Chelsea, Milk Studios across the street from the now famous Chelsea Market. It’s a brisk evening but something “hot” is in the air! As I pulled up to the building that houses Milk Studios I see a well dressed, pressed and groomed group all dressed in NY Makeup Artists signature BLACK Fashion, I knew I was in the right place. I sauntered up the staircase in the foyer of the building with no abandon and walked right past all formalities with no questions asked. I AM MY CREDENTIALS! Makeup Royalty. I’m then lead to the second floor, Studio 2D.

As I exit the elevator I see more of the same highly styled Beauty Experts poured out into the hallway mingling about with glasses of Champagne and Sparking Water with a twist of Lemon. We were all breathlessly waiting for the nights event to commence. It was now 7pm and the doors now opened in NY fashion, allowing the “RESERVED” seaters to enter first. The studio is set up in all white with a white block platform and a long white runway with huge monitors on either side of the main stage. With a seating arrangement that Mercedes Benz Fashion Week would be proud of. In the rear of the room there are 15 white block pedestals.


I see both my Fashion Makeup friends as well as my Union Makeup friends…I feel right at home. As I take my marked “RESERVED” seat there is a sweet Black Patent Pouch on it with a cover sticker with what looks like abstract cover art worthy of a nod to Warhol that simply says Val in an unknown scripted font, that wreaks of style…Val Garland style! I’m in the third row seat 2 right behind the legendary Joey Mills and nestled in between Emmy winners Leslie Shreve and Barry Berger.


All seats are full and no room left , the only room left is for standing and trust me seated or standing it’s packed! Out from backstage comes a lean NY styling machine…one James Gager Creative Art Director of M.A.C Cosmetics about to introduce Val. Then confidently out comes Val to a thunderous applause…then in an instant..,silence as she introduces herself in that quipping Brit accent of hers with style, humility and humor she begins the demo.

Val’s multitasking skills are impressive as she walks us through Makeup tales. The room bursts out in a series of waves of a successful mixture laughter, ohh’s and ahh’s.

“Its a “pre” planning meeting for the world famous fashion designer Vivianne Westwood Fashion Show.” Val says, “I have a “tea” meeting with designer Vivianne and I ask Vivianne what her muse for the current show was. And Vivianne answered with one word…”HORSES!” The room bursts out in laughter. Mostly because if you know anything about Vivianne Westwood fashion…you’d better bring out the big guns of creativity almost bordering lunacy and eclectic style!
Val knows she’s got to find that same inspiration to match the muse for Vivianne’s latest Collection.

This particular makeup demo out of several that evening was a stunner imprinted in my mind, reminiscent of a Glittery Spotted Palomino Pony. The Makeup was not painted on …the models face was covered in what appeared to be a gel or balm…Val then dunks the Models face in a flat porcelain tray of Teal Blue Glitter….ta da!!!! Sheer Genius…Bravo Val…another unforgettable creation!





EXPANSION: Knowing when it’s time…


Mmmm…where do I begin this story…

It first started out with a prayer so simple that I’d even forgot about it!!

It was something about EXPANSION! I said it briefly out of my mouth this weekend.

So, this morning on my Facebook Newsfeed I’d received a post from a celebrity client of mine. The post had me jump off my seat…it was a photo of some card she had and the cards writing was all about expansion and where to expand!!!

Unbelievable to me…really. And that cards message is now the reason I decided after many reluctant years to start blogging… so now; you (whomever you are) all can hear my thoughts that may be of some kind of service to you to help you get to where you’re going Artistically, Mentally, Spiritually or simply Locally.

Maybe that’s all this journey called My Life has been about. Oh, and let me be clear here, I know every move I’ve ever made has been for a purpose some I’ve purposely calculated and others I just stumbled onto.

Whatever it was or is…the word today is about EXPANSION.

That means at some point there WAS restriction of sorts (you name your own restriction, I know what some of mine were), but now you know it’s time too move forward!!! Be of service.

Take it as a sign, I did.

Curl On…Paint On viZionaire,

An introductory note from “The Glam Squad Files” Author


Thank you for joining me (NZINGHA) here on this blog “The Glam Squad Files”. Please allow me to introduce myself to you as the Author of this page. I realize there is an audience of Makeup Artists who may or may not be familiar with me personally but have seen my work (blessings that I’ve had that kind of work).

Let me say this before I say anything else…for many years Ive been behind the scenes in the entertainment industry as a Celebrity Makeup Artist and all around Makeup Artist.

Most times I’d been way too busy touring, working on this client or that client, or this and that show or photo shoot to even sit down for a glass of water!!!! Whew!!! Looking at my own life I need to sit down for a breather!!! Lol!

I’ve always kept journals chronicling my life, all of my work and personal life experiences. Experiences that are vast and numerous consisting of 26 years of selfless devotion to my craft.

I know there are so many new and young Makeup Artists curious about the Makeup and Entertainment Industry. And I always wish for those who are serious about being a Makeup Artist the best, because its not always a “Pretty” “Glamourous” profession. It’s hard work on every level.

Some, will quit before they even start. Some will devote their lives to the craft (giving up their personal lives having fame of name or be thrust into various industry buisiness outlets). Others, will play and move on. And then , there will be few who are in it for the sheer love to paint and are willing to encourage and teach those with lesser experience in the industry how to manuver through the industry maze.

Well who are you?…you may be asking yourself right now. I’d like to introduce myself as humbly yet confidently without sounding like I’m bragging, okay? Breathe and smile…now (I’m telling myself…a bit shy of myself as I’ve always remained private and silent).


I am NZINGHA a Makeup Artist and CEO of ZFACEINC.. With 26 years of experience as a Makeup Artist in Music, Fashion, Film, TV and Broadway. My mission was to redefinine the female aesthetic from a female point of view. The mission is always to infuse the “SOUL” of a woman as her greatest source of “Beauty”.

My motto has always been…”Everyone we touch becomes…Platinum”. And with all due respect it’s been true especially my work in the music industry.

I’ve been blessed to win along with the Directors of the video’s two MTV awards for recording artist Brandy’s music video for the song ” The Boy is Mine ” (featuring Brandy and Monica) and for the music video, ” Lady Marmalade ” from the motion picture soundtrack from Moulin Rouge featuring Pink, Missy Elliot, Mya, Christina Aguillera and Lil’ Kim.

In 2005, I was nominated and won the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment (NABFEME) “She’s Got Game Woman of Excellence Award” for “Fashion and Style Executive of the Year 2005”. (I’m still in shock about winning that one as I’d been in the nominee company of Fashion Designer Tracy Reese, frequent Designer of First Lady Michelle Obama). I was just honoured to be in a room full of powerful inspiring Ladies who are amazing CEO’s.


I’d also won the MVDA from The Directors Guild for “Best Makeup Artist” as well as coveting the first 2002 Urban Fashion Awards for “Excellency in Makeup Design” and winning the 2004 Urban Fashion Awards for “Excellency in Makeup Design.

My work has been featured in several magazines Vogue, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vanity Fair, Marie Clair, Lucky, Essence, Interview, VIBE, TRACE, Jane, Teen People, Billboard , Black Enterprise, 1st Hold, Honey, Black Book, SPIN and more just to name a few.

I’ve been privileged to work with the world famous photographers…Annie Leibowitz, David LaChapelle, Wayne Mazur, Herb Ritts, Steven Misel, Therry LeGous, Ruven Afanador, Markus Klinko, Daniella Federici, Randee St. Nicholas, Marc Baptiste, and the list goes on and on.

I was also responsible for the faces of “Viva Glam” featuring Lil’ Kim and Mary J. Blige advertisements for M.A.C. Cosmetics in 2000 as well as advertisements for “Candies”, “Iceburg” and “Abecrombe and Fitch”.

Ive had the positions of Contributing Beauty Editor for Vibe Magazine and Vixen as well as former Beauty Editor with “NZINGHA’s Beauty Notebook” for Girl Magazine.

Just few recording artists Ive worked with…Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion, Lenny Kravitz, Maxwell, Mariah Carey, The Cast of “Girlfriends”, Lil’ Kim , EVE, Sean ” P-Diddy” Comes, Jill Scott, Missy Elliot, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah and many more (too many to list on this page right now).


I know this has been a long read but its kinda hard to jam pack 26years of experience in a few simple paragraphs…it’s really for a book right? Mmmmm maybe one day.

One thing I know for sure is I am in the company of many who assisted in creating an aesthetic of an era and for that I am proud. I’m happy to share with you hopefully some of that experience through the pages of this blog.

I personally am always curious about those who are expert or have been at anything for years. They to me are “Sages” ( and trust I’ve sat at the seat of many Sage colleagues and still do after all these years in the biz and after receiving many awards myself ) presenting wisdom and, if they’re willing to share…I’m willing to listen. We never stop learning or growing.

Bless you on your own journey viZionaire…
Curl On, Paint On,


The Mission Statement of The Glam Squad Files

20140413-084727.jpgThe Mission Statement of “The Glam Squad Files”…is to give YOU the Professional Makeup Artist an inside track “ALL ACCESS PASS” on Managing your biz from the Pro’s, How-To’s, Go-To’s, Places we go to SHOP TILL WE DROP and Artists Inspirational Thoughts, Ideas and Encouragement.

This blog is about the ARTISTS SPIRIT!!

What do I mean by the Artists Spirit? The things, people, situations, muses and things that drive us to create!

This is purely experimental for me to be as transparent as I’d think I’d like to be here and share, and explore new methods of doing what we do how we do.

I’d love feedback from you (Which means dialogue and conversation. Don’t have me just sitting here rambling off to myself…okay? Cause that’s not nice)


If you want mean spirited gossip and chaos this is not the spot for you!!! So with all that said were going to take this slow KEEP CALM AND WORK IT OUT…maybe this blog will answer some questions for you, maybe it will keep you inspired, maybe it will make you think, maybe it will make you angry and maybe it will cause you to explore all of your creative passions and options.

I dunno, but lets take this ride together. And in closing I will say to all the viZionaires out there…

Curl On….Paint On viZionaire!!!