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Meet Trailblazer Shaneka Murray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaneka Murray.

Shaneka, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Like many, I spent my earlier years in jobs that often times I succeeded in but did not fulfill me. It took me some time to realize what I was truly seeking and I needed those experiences to show me just exactly what I was looking for. I was always the girl playing in her mother’s makeup. I’d often be over analyzing glamorous looks from the red carpet or my favorite movie scenes or just regularly at the makeup counter looking at the newest launches and campaigns. I never really ever imagined that it would become my career. I always loved what makeup could do, how it transformed you, how you could create an entire character out of obscurity, solely with makeup. I knew I wanted to do something that would allow my love of makeup to be utilized to create. No one really believed my plan but I decided to go back to school for esthetics and makeup. I received my license and began my business. I worked in a prominent salon under two phenomenal women who saw fit to not only give me my first in salon opportunity but they proceeded to encourage, promote, inspire, push and mold me into the artist and professional I am today. In time, I worked my way up to the salon manager, and key makeup artist, all while continuing a freelance business and building on social media. Social media especially IG, gave me the opportunity to creatively and openly exchange ideas with other artist and begin developing my own community of followers who enjoyed my love for makeup as well. I never knew it would grow into something that would put me into contact with not only great artists but also cosmetic companies that would support and encourage me as well. Naturally, I began to aspire for more, I wanted to do makeup in Television and Film and it just felt like the next step in my evolution. I knew I needed to remove the safety net of the salon and go for it. After working on my first film project and seeing first hand all of the moving parts, I knew then I wanted to be on set each and every day. I began solely freelancing and marketing myself to bigger projects. I began working on more Independent Films, networking, doing BG & PA work, and taking industry led classes by top professionals in film which gave me the insight I needed to achieve more work in my desired department on set. One such amazing professional, Syretta Bell who offers the course the Day Player Boot Camp, (which focuses on building makeup artist in the film industry) sought to give me an opportunity on several projects and at Tyler Perry Studios. I have now been fortunate to have worked on several series and films, numerous photo shoots and campaigns alongside renowned actors and actresses, inspiring Atlanta entrepreneurs and businesswomen, and successful artists that I never dreamed possible.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No road to really fulfilling your dreams is ever particularly smooth, but I’m a believer that no road worth taking ever is. Embracing a creative career path as a freelance makeup artist/day player is not without its challenges and struggles, especially when you are untethered to a salon or counter. There are many days plagued by uncertainty, many no’s, unanswered emails and rejections. It falls to you to seek out jobs, foster connections, continue to network, promote yourself, budget, keep inventory, and motivate yourself daily, as often the times between production jobs can be daunting.

The only advice I can give is the advice that was given to me…
Don’t give up.
Don’t lose hope.
Always keep your mind open and a grateful heart. Be of optimum service to every opportunity that you are given, (big or small) because even the smallest detail, or impression you make can take you farther than you think. Show up (be early) and show out (be ready), the connections you make, the way you are received can lead you to much greater without you even knowing it.

Continue to evolve, learn and grow in your art. Seek out education whenever possible that will add to your talents and skills because this industry is always changing and you won’t want to miss a chance at discovering something new and incredible… and lastly, never stop.

Just when you think it’s not going to happen… it happens, and you’re standing in front of an open door that once was closed.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a published freelance makeup artist (that now works primarily in TV/Film), licensed esthetician, and beauty blogger known as SunShani_Mua. I’m known for my detail and focus to superiorly healthy glowing skin and offering my signature SunShani Glow. A look comprised of a sunkissed finish inspired by the fresh, glowy and dewy faces of the beach weathered women I grew up idolizing. I work with agencies, beauty companies, models, actors, and actresses. I specialize in several makeup styles including beauty, natural, corrective, male grooming, and editorial, as well as makeup primarily for television/film and photo campaigns.

As an artist and a professional, I believe I’m most proud of finding the subtle balance between my artistry and the business that goes along with it. Remaining a constant set professional and understanding the needs of others. Recognizing my value within a team or without and never compromising my worth or my aesthetic. I offer a quality of service that definitely continues to set me apart, no matter the setting you’ll always receive “an experience” with me.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I find today our fight for a seat at the table and to be seen and treated as equal still to be our most prominent barrier, Having our voices heard and our ideas recognized on an evenly placed platform still remains a constant struggle in every career setting not just my own. In my industry, there’s a powerhouse of women in a head of department positions that are emphatically changing that narrative. They are setting a precedent of inclusivity, positivity, and equality which promotes the sharing of knowledge, the open exchange of ideas constant encouragement, and building up and preparing the next level of an artist for future success.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Models: Chris Murray, Yana Marienko; Photographer Blair Devereaux Pheauxtography, CD: Drew Kendrick
Models: Sydney Garde, Sahnah, and Bethyie Gebrkidan: Photographer Kalonji Allmond

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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