SUNDAY TIMES - Local Hollywood makeup artist steps in front of the camera and wows
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Sunday Times Beauty By CLAIRE KEETON, 2017-03-05 00:00:00.0

Local Hollywood makeup artist steps in front of the camera and wows

Koketso Mbuli makes up and dresses Hollywood stars.
Image: RUVAN BOSHOFF

Koketso Mbuli, a costume and makeup artist for Hollywood stars, is a sensation in her own right.

She fits right into the Bright Young Things collection at the Africa Art Fair in Cape Town this week, and a larger-than-life image of her face by artist Kudzanai Chiurai was exhibited by the Goodman Gallery at the Cape Town Art Fair last month.

But Mbuli, 27, usually works behind the scenes - on movies such as The Last Face, directed by Sean Penn and starring Charlize Theron; The Giver, starring Meryl Streep; and on series like Roots, with Forest Whitaker; and Wallander, with Kenneth Branagh.

Now she is "hopping out" of long films to do more collaborations with conceptual artists on commercials and projects.

"I can do my own shoots, the casting, art direction, makeup and costumes," said Mbuli, who had just finished working on an advert when she arrived at the art fair.

She was mesmerised by the artworks and images, including the collection titled The Upright Man on the late Burkinabé president Thomas Sankara.

Cape Town's film industry was booming, said Mbuli, who moved there after falling in love with the city during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Working on set for 12 to 14 hours a day was more gruelling than glamorous, said Mbuli, talking about the fatigue and inability to do anything else while filming.

"In film you go with whatever team you like and you throw your heart into what they are creating. You go with it.

"Often you only read the script later and it may be something you don't believe in," she said.

Stars could make or break a shoot, said Mbuli. "Meryl Streep kept to herself, but she was warm and lovely," said Mbuli. "She was very professional."

On Penn's film, which critics panned, Mbuli was responsible for dressing the leads, except Theron and co-star Javier Bardem, who had their own dressers. Penn used former child soldiers from Liberia to portray the young fighters in the film.