By Oluatoyin Alleyne
To master the art of make-up, especially in this part of the world, takes a lot of talent and hard work and those are the two qualities that Paulla De Souza has making her one of the most sought-after make-up artists in the Caribbean.
The evidence is there to support this. Not only is she hired for many events throughout the Caribbean, but Paulla has done her thing in London (England) and Ghana; the latter she labels as one of her most memorable experiences.
When The Scene caught up with this diva she quickly told us that her name is spelt uniquely, it has an extra L, something that may have started out as a mistake. She recalls that one time she when was being hired and she overheard her prospective employer saying, “go ahead and hire that girl whose name Paulla is spelt with an extra L, I think she is special.”
Fashion is her passion. It sounds clichéd, but with her it may not be so when one considers that she grew up with a mother who is a seamstress and was always into fashion which saw her modelling from an early age, right up to her teens, She has modelled designer clothing for boutiques such as Clairan’s, so you cannot doubt it when she says she almost breathes fashion. She also did a lot of work for well-known designer Pat Coates and had the “privilege” of working with Negla Brandis who had a yearly fashion show called ‘Style’ through which she raised money for the nurses association. Paulla modelled in Style 90 and 91.
But while she loves fashion it was cosmetology that she fell in love with and she is in fact a qualified cosmetologist, though she specialises in make-up.
Initially she learnt all she knew on the job while she worked at Noreen’s Beauty Salon, which, back in the day, was one of the top salons in town. It was only after she got an opportunity to go to Trinidad and Tobago that she did the theoretical part of cosmetology. It was while she was in that country that she met Jean Inniss, who was a very good make-up artist and taught Paulla the trade. She told the budding beautician at that time that she had a “flair for make-up.” Paulla got her first big break within two weeks of working with Inniss when she joined her on the set of a Broadway concert in T&T. She was nervous but she must have done something special that night as she was hired right there and then to be the make-up artist for a show called Radical Design and after that show she was hired for a second gig.
But even as things were heating up for her in T&T, Paulla still had the dream of returning to her homeland and opening her own salon. She did return to Guyana at the end of 1995 but things did not work out and by March of the next year she was flying out again to Trinidad.
Upon her return she was hired on the set for three seasons of the island’s popular Westwood Park soap opera. In the meantime she was being hired constantly by advertising agencies and actually got the opportunity to work during that country’s hosting of the Miss Universe pageant. She disclosed that there was a charity fashion show where all the delegates participated and she was the make-up artist for that show.
Asked if her work in Trinidad was lucrative back in the day Paulla exclaimed, “Of course it was lucrative!” She tells us that she was doing well as a young woman and it really helped to liberate her. “Do you have any idea what it is like to take care of yourself without the assistance of the man? It is empowering experience.”
She said that at that time it was very difficult to maintain a steady relationship as she was always on the run, so to speak, hopping here, there and everywhere to apply make-up.
She thinks it all came together in 2001 when she was hired to do the make-up for the Jamaican Air Services in flight magazine for which a video was also produced. The setting of the magazine was in St Lucia and because that country is assisted by the popular Black Entertainment Television (BET) in hosting their jazz festival the video was aired on that network. And guess what? Paulla was interviewed for that show and she recalls that she got many calls from persons who saw her on the network.
All this time and up to today Paulla has been back and forth between Trinidad and Guyana and she says it would always be that way because she finds more job opportunities in Trinidad.
And this is so because, according to Paulla, the average Guyanese woman is not into make up and skin care,” it is not part of our culture.”
She pointed to the quality of television advertisements where the persons involved would just go on television without any make-up. “That should never be, a make-up artist should always be employed.” Many Guyanese women, and this is Paulla again, would be overheard saying that they don’t like make-up. “But what women should understand is that make-up is highlighting the features that are attractive and minimising the less attractive by using colour, foundation and any other form of make-up to enhance. It is not about wearing a million colours on your eyes. Just good foundation, a nicely shaped and waxed eyebrow, mascara and lip gloss, that could be it.”
And Paulla work has been recognised as she was one of the three nominees at the recent Caribbean Fashion award, an experience she found humbling.
Paulla is the mother of one boy but she is single and says she is still waiting on that man who would support her work and one who is not conceited.
She lives by two mottos and one is “Life without crises is suicide, without God she is nothing. Image is everything.” And then motivational speaker Les Brown’s words have stuck with her the ones where he said: “If you develop yourself well and become a master of your trade, if you set goal and go after them with all the determination that you can muster, your gift will take you places that will amaze you.” And she says she is testimony to this as her gift took her to Ghana for six weeks, an experience she would never forget.
If you want to make contact with Paulla you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.