Photography by Jerry Stone, Blue Ash Group; Hair cut/color by Tanya Tieman, Tanya's Image Salon
There are worse things to have to do for a living than cover actor Josh Hutcherson’s tattoos.
All in a day’s work for Jodi Byrne, a professional makeup artist in Cincinnati.
“It’s amazing to me sometimes,” Byrne says of her dream-come-true career that began when she was a child growing up in Reading watching her father, a commercial illustrator, and her artistic/computer-savvy brother, draw.
She confesses to not sharing their technical prowess, describing herself as a “more traditional artist.” But she definitely inherited their passion to create. When her mother hosted Avon makeup parties at their home when Byrne was in elementary school, the seed of fascination with transforming people into characters was firmly planted.
As high school art club president, Byrne tried her hand at many mediums. Her art teacher, she says, ignited her interest in learning the art of airbrush. That led her to enroll in an airbrush course taught by well-respected artist Michael Dougherty, owner of Anything Airbrushed Plus. Byrne managed his studio for 10 years and does freelance work for him on occasion.
Although Byrne never went to art school, opportunities beckoned and she had the verve to pursue them.
Byrne earned her managing cosmetology license at Moore University of Hair Design and was hired by a Glamour Shots photography studio. Over the next four years, she learned as much as she could about lighting, and honed her craft of makeup application abilities by employing various face shapes, structures and complexions as her artist’s easel. She spent two years as a Glamour Shots trainer.
While working at Glamour Shots, she started freelancing on Procter & Gamble product-based industrial videos and independent films. That’s how she met artist Ken Niederbaumer, and assisted him on multiple television movies. Niederbaumer left Cincinnati, moved to California, and has since been nominated for three Emmys.
“I knew being a Hollywood makeup artist located in the Midwest would be difficult but I was determined to make my dreams a reality,” says Byrne. “Ken’s success keeps me focused on what is possible when you have that fire inside.”
When the movie “Traffic” was filmed in Columbus, Byrne was hired in the hair – not makeup – department.
“I was so lost,” Byrne recalls. “I’d never done hair on a set before.”
But there was actor Michael Douglas sitting next to her on the set. Scary, meet cool.
“I thought, ‘This could be fun. I am going to really chase this down and do this.’ I started putting my name out there and doing my work for free for the experience.”
And then Hollywood filmmaking arrived in Cincinnati.
“My big break here was the film ‘Ides of March’ with George Clooney,” Byrne says. “Emmy-nominated Kimberly Jones, key makeup, called me and offered me an opportunity to work for her.”
With that film experience under her makeup bag, Byrne joined IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. And the rest is her exciting, successful Hollywood makeup artist career history. She has worked on a variety of films, such as “The Avengers,” “Fun Size,” “Carol,” “A Kind of Murder,” “The Long Home,” “Bone Tomahawk” and “Tiger.” Byrne just recently finished working on “Curvature,” starring Lyndsy Fonseca.
In between films, Byrne keeps busy doing makeup and wigs for the touring Broadway Series at the Aronoff Center, where she has worked since 2000 on shows including, most recently, “The Lion King,” “Shrek,” “Wicked,” “The Addams Family” and “Phantom of the Opera.”
“I am very blessed to get up and know the job I go to is a job I love to do,” says Byrne. “I was always told if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. It’s true.”
You can reach Jodi Byrne at 513.607.2461, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit jodibyrne.com.