First Culture

Bernadine Anderson Was The First Black And Female Make-Up Artist

Bernadine Anderson Was The First Black And Female Make-Up Artist

In the late 1960’s and at a period when it was uncommon for black people to work on set with white actors and actresses, Bernadine Anderson in a heroic show of a generally unsung act of bravery changed this stereotype.

In a determined effort to pursue a career for which she was passionate about, Anderson filed a class act law suit to allow her secure a place as a black woman in the white dominated make up community, she spoke about this in an interview with the Smithsonian; they just wouldn’t let minorities in, it was a very hard industry to break no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t break it.

The legal battle paved way for a three year internship at Warner Bros entertainment where she was trained intensively on make up, an opportunity which she regards as a blessing considering she was the last person to be trained by the company.

Her career started off with making up stunt doubles, triples and sometimes quadruples to imitate the actors. The watershed for her however was when she met American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model and fitness guru, Jane Fonda who loved her work and who she subsequently worked with for eight years in an only white dominated field.

Anderson was thus availed the opportunity to work on many interesting movie sets including; Coming to America, Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn, Bad Company, What’s Love Got to Do With It, Another 48 Hrs, Harlem Nights, TV Show Amen, TV Show Head of Class, Police Academy 6 paving the way for all who were to come after her.

The breakthrough of Bernadine Anderson against racial and gender bias is rightly captured in the words of actress Jane Fonda for whom she worked for eight years; A man has every season while a woman only has the right to spring.


Featured Image: Michael Bozjan

References: Smithsonian

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Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke

Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke

Senior Editor working out of East Africa.

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Bernadine Anderson Was The First Black And Female Make-Up Artist

by Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke time to read: 1 min