When makeup meets esports: How this team works behind the scenes to ready your favorite personalities for the stage
If you were watching Twitch coverage at E3 this year or the Starcraft 2, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft stages at BlizzCon last fall, then you’ve seen the work of Esports Makeup. Esports Makeup was founded by Rosa Menendez and Lorena Acevedo, and it’s the hard work of these makeup artists and hair stylists behind the scenes that prepare the players and hosts for the stage.
How Esports Makeup started though actually began on a film set. Acevedo was working on the same set as Menendez about a month after graduating from school. Both were there assisting a friend.
“I just asked her a lot of questions because she had more experience being on set and she told me you can come assist me and help me and I was really grateful,” Acevedo told GeekFold. “From then on, we’ve still been working together.”
On that set they discovered they worked well as a team and got along with each other, and for Menendez, what started out as a makeup artist and assistant-like relationship quickly became more of a partnership.
“There is so much that I learned from her despite having had more on set experience and having been out of school longer,” Menendez said. “We realized we work well together so we thought let’s just keep on trying to take over the world.”
The opportunity to work in esports came about like many opportunities do: thanks to luck. Menendez was introduced to the right person while working on a film set in 2013. Blizzard told that person they needed a makeup artist for BlizzCon and he, without mentioning Blizzard, let Menendez know there was a job he thought she’d be perfect for. When the email arrived in her inbox and she saw it was from Blizzard with dates for BlizzCon, she was shocked. It was a convention she’d always wanted to go to but she never had the money to get there and now she was being offered the chance to be paid to go work the event. Menendez worked 2013 BlizzCon alone covering the Starcraft stage, World of Warcraft stage, and Hearthstone invitational.
The following year she checked in with Blizzard to let them know she’d love to come back and they said yes, but also would she want to work more? That made Menendez reach out to Acevedo to see if she would be interested in helping. The two went to BlizzCon 2014, splitting the work. Menendez knew Acevedo could figure things out and said she “navigated it beautifully and we’ve been in esports ever since.”
For Menendez, esports and gaming were not new worlds. She’s followed esports for a long time and gaming has been part of her whole life. Acevedo was more from the film world and more familiar with old school video games, but when Menendez introduced her to the community Acevedo said she fell in love.
Since that BlizzCon in 2014, the two have worked together for multiple events as Esports Makeup. Sometimes they bring additional help with them. Menendez said they eventually brought on a third assistant and then there were four of them working the Overwatch World Cup in 2017. How much help they might need varies project to project. There’s a set group of makeup artists in esports they’ll call for help if they need it. Smaller shows they can still work with maybe just one extra hand, but Menendez says their work has expanded enough that they do call for help on a regular basis.
So how do they work these major esports events? Acevedo said they plan, set up, and then discuss who’s doing who.
“Do we have one woman and eight guys? How do we prep? We look at times as well to see who needs to go first so we get them through as quickly as possible and we go through everyone and establish a routine,” Acevedo explained.
When working with talent, Menendez said they’ll contact them if they’ve worked with them before to let the talent know they’ll be at the event and see if they want anything in particular.
“Because we work with so many people in esports already, we know their preferences so we just have so much of that contact already and already know what we’re going to be doing,” Menendez said.
Since they’ve been working in esports, they’ve had a front row seat to changes in the industry. It’s become more well-known to the public and grown in numerous ways, from law to stadiums to fashion and will reportedly earn $1.1 billion in revenue this year. Despite its growth in the mainstream though, there’s still work to be done in educating people about esports. According to Menendez, people still need to work on being mindful and respectful of the industry. Over the years she’s worked with Acevedo in the field, she’s seen people enter it that are “extremely disrespectful.”
While people don’t have to love it, Menendez said if you’re there working an event, you can at least make the best of it and “remember this is a legitimate industry with hard working passionate human beings.” People are realizing you can legitimately make money in it working the events, but she hasn’t always seen the respect that esports deserves.
“I’m glad it’s mainstream. It makes me happy that it’s growing. Even when we started some years ago to where it’s at now, it’s grown into something huge and beautiful and so many more people are involved and aware of esports. As it’s becoming mainstream, people are starting to find out about these other positions you can work in the industry,” she said. “You do not just have to be a player in esports and the fact that people are waking up to that and seeing it and aspiring to do these other positions that call to them, I’m thrilled. It makes me so happy. I just hope that sooner rather than later people will respect it as the legitimate industry that it has always been.”
It's important to keep in mind for members of the community and if you want to work in esports. As Menendez mentioned, there are many ways you can in fact now have a career in the field without being a player including makeup and hair like Menendez and Acevedo. If you want to follow that path, both agree an education and training are key.
“In esports, you can’t really be a hair stylist or a makeup artist. You need to do both. No production is going to hire one of each. That’s a very film and entertainment mindset. You need to learn both,” Menendez said.
She then recommends working on student films, music videos, and any other projects you can so that if esports is where you want to end up, you can arrive hitting the ground running and beyond the point of learning bad habits.
“Esports is a more relaxed industry and work environment, but you don’t want to go in learning that and then having to go work a film shoot for whatever reason, and all of a sudden you have all these bad habits. Work in the entertainment industry outside of esports first,” Menendez said. “Learn your etiquette, learn your basic professionalism, and then come to esports and once you’re there, everything is going to be so much smoother and easier because you already know what to do.”
According to Menendez, there isn’t a lot of guidance in esports so you need to step on that set already equipped with the necessary knowledge.
“Even when we first started in esports, they were like ‘what do you mean you don’t know who you’re working on?’ I’d be like yea, nobody told me who I’m working on because I’m used to film where they’re like hey here’s your actor,” Menendez said. “It’s really important that you learn how to read a call sheet, how to be a self-starter, because again BlizzCon, E3, or any other convention, when it’s 6 a.m. in the morning and you have to set up, you already have to know where your place is at. Your call sheet will be there and it’ll tell you what you need to do and you better know how to navigate a con.”
Acevedo agrees that experience is key.
“When I was at BlizzCon for the first time, thank god we knew how to contact people because they wouldn’t let me in. I didn’t have the certain badge that was required to get in early and be there backstage so I was quick to look at my call sheet and see who I needed to call. If I didn’t go straight to film sets, I wouldn’t know what I was doing,” Acevedo said. “I was freaked out a little bit, but then I calmed down because I knew what to do. I’d been in these situations. It does help to go on films, music videos, and photo shoots. The more experience you have the easier esports will be, the better questions you’ll be able to ask, and you’ll be able to tell the production team what you need. My advice is to get educated, go out there, gain all the knowledge, and train yourself to be better always.”
If you’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con, you can see Menendez discuss her career as part of our Careers in Geek Fashion panel!
Don't forget to sign up for GeekFold so you can receive the week's essential geek fashion news every Friday!