Though we’re always game to get familiar with the makeup artists behind our favorite celebs, we rarely include the ones who bless the faces of political big-shots, like the former First Lady of the United States (and birthday girl) Michelle Obama. Understandably so, working anywhere near Capitol Hill requires discretion, but their brush skills are just as–if not, more–notable than their more talked-about counterparts. We know MUAs are under pressure while preparing celebs for red carpets and award shows, but we can’t even begin to fathom what it’s like to perfect the face of our #ForeverFLOTUS.
As it turns out, there is someone who knows this unique form of anxiety and his name is Carl Ray. He’s been working with Obama for the past 10 years, along with other notable women in politics including Nancy Pelosi and Sonia Sotomayor. Though you may assume Obama met Ray before moving into the White House, Ray reveals in an interview with PopSugar that he actually had to audition for the high-profile job.
“When I was working at the Four Seasons, I received an email from the White House asking me if I’d like to audition for the role of Michelle’s makeup artist. I was sent three pictures of how she likes to look and asked if I’d like to come in and do her makeup,” he shared.
Though Ray admitted to being nervous, he also wanted to be himself and do his best work. “I told her I was nervous, and she giggled. I did her makeup, and I got a phone call back from her within three days asking me if I’d like to come back in. . . and then again and again.” The rest is history. Now, ten years later, Ray continues to work with Obama.
Thinking back on his day-to-day schedule both during the White House years and after, he confirms that as with most women, the occasion ultimately dictates the look. But no matter the creation, his goal was to always bring out her natural beauty. According to him, the classic Michelle Obama look consists of nude lips, a pretty open eye, her beautiful cheek bones –and then additional glam if the occasion fits.
“She’s the most inspiring person I’ve had in my makeup chair,” he says. “She is just authentic, authentic, authentic and just full of knowledge and a really good person. What you see which is what you get.”