After discovering her gift while attending Hampton University, today, Ashley Gray is one of the most in-demand celebrity makeup artists. With a long list of clients such as LeToya Luckett, Travis Greene, Toya Wright and Chicago singer-songwriter Dreezy, she has proved that with dedication, perseverance, courage and a positive outlook, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. While listening to Beyoncé’s greatest hits, rolling out asked Gray a few questions about how she embraces being herself and her journey in the world of beauty.
What products and brands do you use for your makeup kit?
I use a variety of brands and products in my kit. From popular drugstore brands like L’Oréal to high-end brands like Tom Ford and Keyvn Aucoin.
Tell us about your signature look.
My signature look is natural with a hint of glamor. I personally am not the type of makeup artist that likes to “overdo” it. I think it’s OK to utilize trends when creating a look but I always use them in a way that doesn’t take away from my client’s natural beauty.
How did you begin your career in the world of beauty?
I began my career as a makeup artist while I was still in college. I started out doing photoshoots with models in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area and once I graduated, I moved back to Atlanta and pursued makeup full time.
What is the most important beauty advice that you can give to women?
The best advice I could give women would be to take care of their skin. Eating a proper diet and drinking lots of water is great for your health, but also for your skin. The key to flawless makeup is skincare. You don’t have to spend a fortune on skincare either. Having a regimen that works for you and getting facials every few months goes a very long way.
What tips can you give to young women who want to start preparing their skin in advance for special events?
If you can’t afford to go and get a good facial, I’d suggest finding a good deep pore cleansing mask to remove all the built-up dirt and bacteria in your skin. I always like to exfoliate the night before I have an event and then I apply the mask that my skin may be asking for. Often my skin needs hydration so I do that after I’ve cleansed, exfoliated and toned my face. Also, one step women often forget is to take care of their eyes. Eye masks make all the difference in your face looking tired.
What products should every woman have in her makeup bag?
Mascara, lipstick and concealer.
What colors are trending now that the ladies could use with their basic products to update and not have to spend a fortune on all new makeup?
A lot of brands are making palettes for everyday consumers and no longer just for pros. I’d suggest creating a custom one with the brand such as Inglot (high end but affordable) or opting for a pre-made one from the drugstore.
Who have you worked with? Or who are some of your past clients?
LeToya Luckett, Toya Wright, Travis Greene, Draya Michelle, Dreezy, St. Beauty, Sevyn Streeter, Tichina Arnold, Lion Babe, Eudoxie Bridges. … The list goes on.
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
As an artist, you’re always learning. I stay on top of my craft by being selective with who I follow on Instagram, watching tutorials, taking classes and attending seminars.
Do you think that there are any widely-held misconceptions about what you do? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
The biggest misconception about makeup artists and what we do is that the job is more of a hobby and it’s always glamorous. For some, they fall into this career because makeup was once a hobby for them. However, this is a thriving industry where many men and women are very successful and make a great living. Like anything else, at the end of the day, it is a job. When you are servicing clients it’s important to be confident, professional and consistent. I do my best to give excellent service but still have fun and enjoy what I do.
Please define your personal brand.
My brand is based around my personality. Since I am an artist, transparency is huge for me. I try not to post or share information about things I don’t believe in or support. I stick to what I know and I present myself in a way that causes other people to admire me but also be inspired by me. I am not afraid to show my struggles just as much as my successes. I think the key to my personal brand has just been to be myself and give people a look at what I like to create.
What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
Every day in every way I am becoming more and more successful.
Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life and/or yourself.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, any and every Beyoncé performance or music video ever, and The Secret.
Name two of your top role models: one from your industry and one from outside of it.
Oprah Winfrey and Mario Dedivanovic
What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create? For those considering entering this arena, what skill sets do you recommend mastering? What traits are most conducive to success?
Being yourself and staying true to what you enjoy and are passionate about are the biggest factors to being unique, standing out and being successful. If you’re always striving to do things the same way as everyone else, you never allow yourself to show up and do something different. There are a million makeup artists and hair stylists in this world but there is no one like me because there is only one of me. God didn’t bless me with a twin sister or brother. I don’t have a clone walking around. He only created ONE version of me and that’s the greatest realization I had recently. My ideas and ways of executing my goals all come from how I feel about them and my own personal drive to be fulfilled. It is a complete waste of time to try and emulate and be like someone else. It’s okay to be inspired by someone’s character and how they handle themselves but it is never okay to try and be that person. Tap into your own personal gifts and talents and maximize them.