Breaking Into Beauty: Willam Belli, US Drag Race Contestant

Anyone who works in beauty will tell you that it’s a fun, inspiring place, full of creative ideas (and the occasional free sample!), but exactly how do you break into the beauty industry? In this series, we’ll be chatting with beauty industry insiders to find out what their jobs involve and the paths they took to get where they are now.

From makeup artists and beauty editors to social media assistants, brand founders, and web developers – these stories are proof that you can enter the beauty industry via any career path.

Meet Willam Belli, drag queen and actor.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

All I really know is that I wanted to be in tabloids. In England, you all how to do tabloids. I love it over here, they’re great!

What attracted you to the beauty industry? 

There were products that I wanted that were not available. I always wanted blue eyelashes, and no one made them. There were sometimes novelty ones for Halloween, but I wanted something better, so I made them!

What did you study and how did this guide your current role?

I stopped going to school at 16, which is early in America. I finished all my schoolwork in three years, I just needed to get out of there. I just thought, ‘I’m never going to do math.’ I didn’t understand it and I thought if it doesn’t fit, why would I learn it. Let me do something that I actually like! So, now I do stuff that I like.

The only thing I really liked at school was art. I always knew that I liked makeup, colouring and drawing and anything that was creative.

What skills and experience do you need to succeed in the beauty industry?

Good skin is helpful. If you’re trying to sell stuff, and it’s not a good canvas, then it’s a hard sell. It’s like going to a hairdresser who has bad hair!

I think willingness to try new things is really helpful and being open to not being right. I don’t know everything about makeup, I’ll be the first to admit that, but I know what works for me, and I know how I like to feel when I have my mug on.

What does your day-to-day beauty routine entail? 

Moisturiser! I really love moisturiser. And of course, sunscreen because I live in California.

What are some of the common misconceptions people have about your job?

That we are all drunk messes! I don’t drink because it was ruining my voice and I’m a singer.

And that we (drag queens) all want to be women. Not all of us do. Some of us do, and that’s fine. I really like how I look and I don’t try to hide my face with contour or change my bones. I’m happy with myself.

I do drag because I want more attention and I like looking pretty and I like colour. Its’s like a colouring book every time I do it. It’s so much fun.

What is the best part of your job? 

Getting to colour in my face and do stuff with my face everyday that’s different and creative. How many people get to do this for a living? Not many!

A lot of people do it as a hobby but to make an income out of it; I’m so blessed.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career so far? 

A Star is Born! Everything from that movie is a blessing, everything I got to do with it was so good.

I had a couple of auditions, they asked me to go in and then they cut all the scenes I auditioned for a couple of weeks before we were about to film. It was terrible. Then the next week they called back and said the scenes were back and wanted to check my availability.

I was like ‘whatever, I’m available!’ I’d never say I wasn’t available for that! No complaints, obviously. That whole experience was great.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the beauty industry? 

Take a picture of your face before you leave the house, then you get to see your outfit and how everything photographs. You don’t want to be untagging pictures later.

What essentials are vital to you doing your job? 

Moisturiser and good lighting. Good makeup can be rendered terrible by bad lighting and terrible makeup can be better with a lot of lighting.

What’s your top piece of beauty advice? 

Long bangs, heavy powder, head down, walk fast.

That means, a long fringe, a lot of powder, head down, walk fast and then they won’t clock you!