DT: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And some highlights in your career? Please name drop (laughs).
TR: I am Tomy Rivero, a makeup artist, an immigrant from the island of the Dominican Republic. My mother, who has been a huge inspiration and muse of sorts with her style and makeup, moved my 2 sisters and [me] to Manhattan when I was 9 years old.
Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with beauty and fashion before I even knew what I was doing. I would play with my cousin at home and do her hair and makeup with my mother’s cosmetics. Although I did very well in school, once I got to high school, I knew that the regular schooling system was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to study beauty.
I then put myself through cosmetology school and makeup schools while I worked at many cosmetic counters at the beginning of my career. First, for Clinique at the age of 17, with a school permit; then, going through a bunch of high-end brands that continued to recruit me – from there, such as Dior, Trish McEvoy, Chanel, and Space N.K Apothecary. This is where I earned my “Ph.D.” in the business of beauty.
I transitioned to assisting editorial makeup artists at New York Fashion Week for Carolina Herrera, Nicholas K, Michael Kors, and Tom Ford. And then, designing and running some of my own shows shortly after.
I’ve trained under some of the best in the industry, [who] continue to be my mentors and sounding boards, to this day. The introduction to Film and Television work was the door to my celebrity clientele. Most recently, as the Key Makeup Artist for the upcoming Amazon Prime show, “Modern Love,” where we got to work with Dev Patel, Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, and Julia Garner, to name a few; which was an unforgettable experience for an island boy who could have never imagined this was going to be a normal day at work.
It has been an incredible 13 years of hard work that quite honestly that has flown by. I couldn’t have imagined working alongside business mogul powerhouse Barbara Corcoran ([from] ABC’s “Shark Tank”), or my most recent contract with one of the most powerful royal families in the world.
Some days, I find myself in some pretty surreal situations and locations; and, I think to myself —thank God, I never gave up.
DT: Why is it important to have diversity in the beauty and fashion industries?
TR: I would say it is imperative to continue to expand the exposure of diversity in beauty and fashion. I think we have seen a huge change in the last 3 years with inclusivity and diversity in these two worlds; but, it is only the beginning. We all come in all shapes, sizes, colors, sexual preferences and looks. If we are all working towards a better world, we need to make sure that the next generations to come [to] start seeing reflections of themselves, and their cultures, in mainstream media.
Growing up, 90% of the models in fashion magazines represented a very narrow idea of what “beauty” should be and it didn’t include most of us; and, that’s no longer acceptable.
DT: Have you seen shifts in the last decade?
TR: Absolutely, I think more and more are coming together to have a more inclusive campaign on what we all consider beauty and style to be in the fashion and beauty worlds. This is the real meaning of “diversity”.
DT: In a perfect world, what would be an ideal evolution in the industries of beauty and fashion?
TR: I think we are in the middle of a Revolution against narrow-minded thinking – when it comes to what beauty is or has been for the last six decades. Our campaigns in the fashion industry have started to do a much wider casting of talent; not only in skin tones but disabilities and ethnicities.
We are moving in the right direction but there’s much more to be done.
DT: Do you realize that your presence in the industry inspires many people around the world?
TR: If my journey and my work inspire anyone, I hope it comes to them by way of clear understanding that a lot of hard work, preparation, [and] a little bit of luck and opportunity go hand-in-hand; and, once you really understand this, the sky is the limit for anyone.
DT: What advice would you give your younger self?
TR: “Keep doing exactly what you’re doing…the good, the bad, and it will all make sense later.”
DT: Are you living your purpose?
TR: Well, I think any human beings’ purpose should be to try and be a better person every day, help others, and do what you can to preserve the planet. And, leave a mark before you leave this earth. So, if we are talking in those terms, then “yes,” I think I’m living my purpose and continue to strive to get better at it every day.
DT: Finish this sentence, “I am grateful for…”
TR: Oh, how can I pick one thing…but, if I had to, I would say I’m grateful for the incredible people the universe continues to connect me with. Artists need people; we need people to give us a chance, to see what we make, and value our art that hopefully inspires. Ideally, for reinforcement to keep going when times are rough. I’m also grateful for our friends, family, and colleagues to push us through when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.
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