Most Influential People2019

Pat McGrath

By Beverly Johnson
Make-up Artist Pat McGrath
Courtesy Ben Hassett

When I started modeling, there were no black makeup artists. It was a challenge to look our best with makeup artists who didn’t really understand our skin color, photographers who had never photographed black models and film that didn’t register darker colors. At the end of the day, we were just trying to get people to really see us. All you want to do is to be seen for who you are.

Pat McGrath allows us to be seen. Her makeup is not just nice makeup—her bold, beautiful colors make a statement. You usually don’t get that with world-renowned makeup artists. People are afraid of stepping outside the box.

People of color have long been immersed in beauty, from adorning our bodies and our hair in Egyptian times and in African culture to inspiring streetwear trends. But we have never -really been celebrated for our contributions to the fashion industry. And now we have this woman, this creative genius, being celebrated not only for her artistry, but also for her business acumen. It’s something we just haven’t seen before.

Pat must already have the sense that she can do anything, because you have to have that in order to be able to do what she’s doing. In our business, she’s a legend already.

Johnson is a supermodel, entrepreneur and author, and was the first African-American model on the cover of Vogue