*If you ask anyone in the high-powered entertainment industry, they will agree that celebrity makeup artist Derrick Rutledge possesses the magic touch.
Rutledge’s amazing artistry has transformed some of the most celebrated faces in the world—including Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, Mo’Nique, CeCe Winans, Chaka Khan, Oprah Winfrey and yes—even First Lady Michele Obama.
Rutledge’s remarkable life was recently featured as the cover story in the Washington Post’s Lifestyle magazine, by Keith L. Alexander, where he recounted his rough childhood and personal battles with weight—challenges that would have deterred a less determined man.
Rutledge once aspired to be an opera singer, but after he was advised that he could never become a professional because of his weight, he shifted his focus to the beauty world, applying makeup to models in his spare time. Rutledge quickly became known for his skill for transforming a woman into looking her best.
Soon, he was making up celebrities at Black Entertainment Television. His magic touch was soon featured on television shows, music concerts and magazine covers, such as Essence and AARP–and eventually the gifted makeup artist began to attract celebrity clients.
Rutledge, who grew up in Washington, D. C., recalls frequently passing by the White House as he was growing up. Fast forward years later, and Rutledge is now First Lady Michele Obama’s official make up artist.
“She’s such a warm spirit, she treats me like I’m her brother,” said Rutledge.
Impressed with the make up job Rutledge performed on the First Lady for a June 1, 2009 Time photo shoot, talk show host Oprah Winfrey snapped up Rutledge to apply her makeup as well.
Rutledge now globe trots around the world to tend to his celebrity clients, making up to $15,000 a day. He has since launched his own beauty line, called Ooh ProCare.
Friends and supporters came out to a white carpet reception to honor Rutledge at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel.
Rutledge seemed surprised by the phalanx of photographers snapping away and the ensuing fanfare, but he remained gracious and was obviously pleased.
Some of the guests spotted at the reception included Omarosa, Rolanda Watts, Nicole Murphy, Keisha Whittaker, Kym Whitley, Big Lez, Tyrone Smith, Rashaan Patterson, John Marshall, Jerris Madison, Ariane Von Kemp, Tia Barr, Angela Dean and daughter Tiffany; Tim Byrd, and scores of well-wishers from the beauty and fashion industry.
The momentous occasion was hosted by Windsor Primetime CEO L. Marilyn Crawford.
“This is an occasion where we hope to project Derrick Rutledge and his brand around the world. He has taken his magic and sprinkled it to make women look more beautiful. That’s why we call him the makeup maestro,” said Crawford. Turning to Rutledge, she handed him a gleaming trophy shaped like a globe and continued proudly, “I present you with the Global Award.”
Rutledge, who cut a handsome figure in a white tuxedo jacket and wine-colored ascot, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for being honored as guests gathered around to congratulate him.
Drawing a correlation between Rutledge landing his first cover on the Washington Post magazine, Debbie Von Beuland sketched a history of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, nestled in the heart of Hollywood.
“There’s a reason why we gathered here at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel,” she said to the rapt guests. “This is the location of the first Oscars, and Marilyn Monroe was discovered at the Cinebelt lounge here. She used to come to the hotel to see Frank Sinatra perform.”
As a lady DJ was spinning the latest tunes, the wine flowed, friends danced and partied (the sleek Nicole Murphy, by the way, demonstrated some particularly fierce dance moves) and praised the humble Rutledge to the skies.
“I think he knows the secret of making women beautiful without making them look heavily made up,” said Seth Neblett, a close friend. “He’s like a painter, he makes a woman look flawless.”
Pausing, Neblett added, “Derrick is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. He’s a real sweetheart and extremely talented.”
“I think Derrick is phenomenal,” said Jen Prudhome, beauty editor at Obvious magazine. “He’s one of those people in the beauty business who is doing immaculate work. He’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. He’s worked very hard to get where he is. For him to have done works of art on two of he most powerful faces in the world—First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey–does not only make him honorary, it makes him legendary.”
“He does not set the bar, he exceeds the bar,” declared Dwight Counsel, who has known Rutledge for 20 years. “And he’s influenced and mentored a number of other make up artists such as Sam Fine, Eric Farrell, and Chris Maldonado. He’s the best make up artist in the world and an extraordinary person as well.
“I applaud him and I celebrate his success,” reflected Brian Dickens, singer Fantasia’s manager. “I’ve watched Derrick go through trials and tribulations. He’s reached back and helped others, and he still remains the same person.”
“He’s a mentor to me,” said Tracy Kennedy. He’s been so very generous with his makeup tips and he is the kindest, humble and determined man I have ever met.”
Clothing designer Angela Dean was equally complimentary.
“This honor is long overdue,” said Dean, who has known Rutledge for 20 years and has worked with him on numerous fashion shoots. “He’s an amazing talent who is gifted and anointed by God. His heart is bigger than life and he is a giver and a transformer. And he empowers women so that they can feel good about themselves.”
Derrick Rutledge– a true genius at work.
Video: Watch as Derrick Rutledge gives tips on how to put make-up for work and going out: