Transcendent Artist

Vanessa Dionne applies make up to an actor's face
Vanessa Dionne ('95) works with an actor. (Photo by Cassie Russek.)

For 25 years, Vanessa Dionne ('95) has been working the "hustle and grind" of Hollywood.

Now she's an Emmy Award winner, taking TV's top prize in the Outstanding Makeup for a Drama Series category for The Bold and the Beautiful at the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in April.

"I felt as if I could exhale and be satisfied with all the years of my work coming together," she says. "The irony is that I originally came out to L.A. to be an actress, and the dream role I wanted was to be on a soap opera!"

In fact, hair and makeup was her technical studies backup at UNT. As she ran the hair and makeup department during campus productions, she loved seeing the final design in place.

"Makeup is a transformative art," she says. "It can transcend the imagination and send the audience on a journey that is a window for the eye and food for the soul."

She especially loves period work. One of her first films was Titanic,"which was insane and very memorable." Last year, she morphed performers to appear as Richard Nixon and Mao Tse-Tung for the opera Nixon in China at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. For Annie, which ran this summer at the Hollywood Bowl, it was all classic 1933 makeup and hair. She won two Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards in 2016 for Alice in Wonderland the Opera, for which she worked for six months to build the designs. And she's since won three more Guild Awards, one for A Chorus Line and two for Mamma Mia.

Dionne is constantly busy, having to look for jobs since The Bold and the Beautiful only shoots 12 days a month. But an average day can run 10 hours or more. She credits Barbara Cox, associate professor of costume design, as her biggest influence, saying her tough-love style drove her to produce her best work.

"I never knew my journey would become what it is today, but I have no regrets," Dionne says. "I love educating newcomers in the industry. Knowledge should not be a secret but passed on."

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