Wendy Rorong; Toronto;
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I’m a makeup and hair artist.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to the University of Toronto for life sciences; I was going to become a pharmacist but I had doubts about whether it was really what I wanted to do. I’ve always loved makeup and I decided to do that as a side gig while making money to pay for tuition.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
One of my friends—whom I’d been practicing on for free at home—recommended me to a bride who was looking for a makeup artist for her big day. I had to research everything to find out more about the business, including how much to charge. We agreed to do a trial and she was very pleased, and ended up booking me. I was so honored she had taken a chance on me.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
I landed a big advertising job with a photographer that I had never worked with before who specifically requested me. Since I’d only been doing small gigs before that it was a huge deal. The photographer told me that he chose me because of my personality, not just based on my portfolio, which meant a lot.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
Seeing my name in a magazine for the first time felt so special, and that feeling just doesn’t go away. The more editorials I did, the more exposure I got and the paid bookings started coming in as my peers started to notice my work.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
I have always been a people-pleaser and I’ve had to figure out how to say no and speak up so people wouldn’t walk all over me. Luckily, I have great agents who look after my best interests.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Work hard, but work smart. Everybody’s path is different, but whatever obstacles you encounter will eventually lead you to where you are now.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
I always thought that going to school, getting good grades and earning a degree is a measure of success. In some professions, it’s absolutely necessary, but real-life experience will always be the best teacher.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
I have never felt like I’ve had to deal with barriers because of my gender.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
In my line of work, you never know when your next job is going to be. Thankfully, I get steady bookings so I don’t need to work another job to support my career choice.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
I’ve heard people say that millennials are entitled and lazy—I don’t think that’s true. I think we have just adapted to the new ways of thinking. I feel like in this day and age, people are starting to be more open-minded and individuality is encouraged. I certainly feel very lucky to be a part of this generation.