Into the Spotlight – Rosa Menendez and Lorena Acevedo of Esports Makeup and Hair
Welcome to Into the Spotlight, an interview series where I interview awesome people in unique positions across esports. So many people seem to think that if they want to be in esports its going to be as a caster, players or coach, but there are so many more ways.
In my first installment of this series, I get a chance to sit down with Rosa Menendez and Lorena Acevedo of Esports Makeup and Hair. The team that is know to be the go-to for all things hair and make up in esports, including being part of the launch of the Overwatch League.
I get a chance to sit down with them to chat about how Esports Makeup and Hair came to be, their histories in esports, the inaugural season of the OWL and more. Below is an edited version of the interview, if you want to listen to the full interview, the attached file has stories and other conversation points not mentioned in writing.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Andrew Nimsgern: Why don’t both of you take a second introduce yourself a little bit and then tell them just kind of briefly what are you doing we’ll dive deep into it later but it’s a start a little bit about you and kind of the position.
Rosa Menendez: Hi I’m Rosa, Mama Rosa Menendez, I am the co-founder of Esports Make Up and this is my partner.
Lorena Acevedo: Hi I’m Lorena Acevedo and I am also the co-found of esports makeup.
AN: This next question will be kind of very direct and obvious I’m sure to some but what is Esports Makeup and Hair? Kind of walk us through the full kind of spectrum of what you guys work on and what if, someone was to hire you, what are you all able to do if someone did want to hire you after this?
Rosa: So it’s so funny that a lot of people actually do ask that question as direct as it may seem. Esports makeup is basically myself and Lorena and we are two professional makeup artists and hair stylists that work specifically in esports. We come from film and television we’re extremely experienced in production and we’ve worked in esports for about six years now. So basically what we bring to the table is a more polished version of the casters and the players and all the personalities you’re already used to seeing on the personal streams to a larger production in esports.
Photo by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment | Rosa Menendez
AN: That is a great answer and I guess kind of the next thing I want to ask before you kind diving more into that kind of business side. But how did you two meet? Like what have you been lifelong friends or you meet in the film and television. How did that start?
Lorena: We met on a film set. We were both assisting a friend. We had no idea who we were and we just started talking and she was telling me how she had like at least a year or two years?
Rosa: Two years, I think yeah.
Lorena: In the industry and I was just fresh out of school and then she was showing me some different pieces of work that she’s done and I was like How do you do these things. She was like Oh just come along with me and I’ll show you how to do certain effects and I was like I mean.
Rosa: I was like baby I’ll show you the world.
Lorena: She was like Aladdin!
AN: So how did that friendship and kind of mentorship, with you looking up to her, how did that come and transition into esports makeup that is today? Like how did that conversation happen?
Rosa: Well that happened with BlizzCon 2013 when I got hired. I got hired to work BlizzCon 2013 and you went to go do a music video for some DJ, and it was a Cascade?
Lorena: Yeah, Cascade.
Rosa: God I remember that so well and it was just kind of telling her like, Lorena I found my tribe. I found home. I know you’re not a gamer but like you belong here with me and a year went by and you know 2014 BlizzCon comes around. I get the job again and this time they tell me for day one we only have a budget for one other makeup artist. For day two you get two more makeup artist. I was like sweet, all right.
So day one Lorena, day two Lorena, day two we got another artist as well but I just was like hey, welcome. I need you to cover these stages by yourself. I’m gonna go to the arena with Starcraft, bye! I just kind of like left her alone with Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. While I was an elitist a-hole with Starcraft. Halfway, like multiple times throughout the convention we’d find downtime to go visit each other and I think there was like so what do you think? She’s like this is the nicest group of people I’ve ever worked with. I was like, I know right? She’s like, I’m not a gamer but I want to know everything about this world. I mean I’m sold.
We started working more with ESL in North America and then they got the Mortal Kombat job and then that’s when you were like “Mine, Dibs” because FGC, she’s all about fighting games. It was like cool, we found Lorena’s tribe within esports and it just it just kind of kept developing from there where it was normally either just one or the other one of us on a job or if I’m working Hearthstone or if you were working Hearthstone, I’d be working Mortal Kombat and if was working for Mortal Kombat you’d be on Halo. If you’re on Halo then I am on Call of Duty like we were never. I always called her to fill spots but we very rarely actually worked together. Unless it was a larger production or we had female talent.
Lorena: Yeah I remember that. Yeah that’s weird
Rosa: And after that people started realizing wait no. The number of talent is much larger. You need more time. You need a second person with you all the time and that’s in my mind is like when you take over and can and at that point no production has ever hired us separately. Now I think they realize we’re a package deal now.
AN: So that was your introduction Lorena to esports, but how go far going back Rosa did you kind of know about esports? Did you apply for that BlizzCon job. Did they reach out to you? Did you always want to be in these sports.
Rosa: Yes but I didn’t know I wanted to be in esports I guess that makes sense. Like I have a halo 3 shotgun on my arm. I have a 360 controller tattooed on my hand like I can’t deny the fact that I’m a gamer. I’ve been a part of the scene for very long time. I used to play like semi-competitively like in south central here in L.A.. Like just local LANs, guys would come over. I used to be a manager for Game Crazy which was like Hollywood video’s Gamestop right and guys have come in. Nobody would want to buy anything for me. So I was like 1v1 me bro and like we started holding like little tournaments in our store. And at first I wasn’t competing and my staff was like you could kick all their ass like what are you doing. You’re probably right, but once I left the store they’re like you don’t work here anymore now you can compete. So I’d go back to the store and I’d pull out like this is actually you know homage to my old controller but it was like a bright pink controller I’d go in full makeup done and be like that a-hole that was just like “oh my god I totally don’t know what’s going on” and then swipe and then walk away. Like cool, thanks guys. It was fun. So I always like I didn’t know I was into esports. And then a G4 crossed my path and on G4 they showed Halo 3 tournaments. What else would get my attention but Halo.
So I was sort of watching a lot of that and I’d watch the shows and be like oh she’s so sweaty. Why? Why just a napkin. At least something guys, like that you know these are beautiful men on the camera why do they look this way why do they look so shiny. And then you know the one girl would show up and I could see she looks good because she’s wearing makeup. Guys all you need is a little concealer about her in your fine so again I didn’t realize I wanted to work in esports. I just saw that esports needed a makeup artist.
Photo taken from Esports Makeup and Hair Twitter | Rosa & Lorena Co-Founders of Esports Makeup and Hair
AN: I’d be curious hear this answer but when you started this, did you kind of think that you would become the kind of most known makeup team? ESL, Overwatch League Season One, Red Bull, like you are the team!
Rosa: No, easy answer, no. I mean, I didn’t think I would even be in esports to begin with.
Lorena: Yeah I didn’t either, I never saw this coming.
Rosa: I was snuck into E3 before I was industry. Now I can be like Yeah I’m Esports Makeup, I can get in. I can get a pass and pay whatever but then it’s like I don’t, I don’t know anybody. I’m not in the industry and I got snuck in by my brother’s cousin in law and I remember standing there. I tell the story all the time. I remember standing at the Attack of the Show booth there’s like a sliver in the curtain about that big just enough for me to see through it and see Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn getting touch ups done by their makeup team. I’m sitting there and I’m with my ex husband at the time and I look at him like, I’m angry and I’m like That’s my job. That’s what I thought me getting into gaming was, was getting a show like Attack of the Show, I didn’t realize it would actually be esports staring us down like that’s my job.
AN: I want to talk about specifically and it’s OK if you guys don’t want to talk about it.Obviously this last week the Overwatch League Season 2 kicked off. We unfortunately saw that you weren’t there. I personally saw a lot of people commenting on how it looked without you guys out there. But what was that experience about like for season one of being apart being at the ground level of something brand new?
Lorena: It was wonderful.
Rosa: I wanted Overwatch League since it was announced. We’re at Starcraft. It was 2016 BlizzCon and she came to visit me at my stage and was sitting there and we always do a selfie from the audience. Like it’s just. Hey where the audience where we’re hanging out because I especially at Starcraft for finals. I have to be in the audience. I refuse to sit like backstage and watch your back there as much as I love hanging out with my talent and feeding off of their energy. There’s something so intoxicating about Starcraft finals at BlizzCon so we’re sitting in the audience right.
Then Overwatch League gets announce and I just kind of like excuse me and I’m watching it and I look at Lorena and I go, I don’t know how that’s gonna be our show. I’ll figure it out. I know we’re not there right now and that pisses me off already. Yeah but that’s gonna be our show moving forward next year. We got World Cup. I was like haha, got em. A lot of times he kept saying like you know me and Monty would talk like “Yeah you’re gonna be at OWl right?” I was like yeah ,sure yeah Monty when I see the contract. So he’s like, “Okay so you’re gonna be there” Whatever and sure enough we ended up getting the job and Overwatch League was an amazing experience.
A lot of the talent were people that we had worked with before.It was like a big reunion, We are a giant family reunion a lot of players waiting for because of World Cup. Because it was kind so again comfortable and it was amazing. I. We we bonded with players. We’ve never gotten the chance to do that before because so many of our shows have been one offs. Right. Maybe we’ll do a show for six weeks but that doesn’t mean we’re seeing the same players for those six weeks. That means that there’s been a round of eliminations like you know that we’re losing players as they go along. So getting to bond with the players with the teams. With the community.
It’s a community that’s the one honestly out of everything that’s the one that hurts. Not being able to get like not keeping or not having gotten you know. It’s losing the community because the community they’re the ones that are constantly like tweeting out it’s like “Hey! Soe looks amazing, what color lipstick is she wearing?” Or like going into Guild Hall and like them going “Oh my God like Hi can we just like talk for five minutes about makeup.” Sure can. What’s up. Have giving advice, you know announcing that we’re gonna do a stream and everyone flooding to it like it was announced you know even the announcement of hey guys we’re not coming back and the the outpouring of support and outrage was just…
Lorena: Wow. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Rosa: That’s what sucks because the talent they’re my friends, they’re our friends. We’re going to see them regularly the players are probably going to see just as regularly. You know it’s the community it’s losing that. And of course the production steady work. Yeah that sucks not having that right. But. Honestly I could as shitty as it may sound like I could do with or without the crew. It’s the community. Losing the community that’s not what hurts.
AN: Moving onto a little happier of a note. You are at the top the game, you have people saying I want to be you all out right now, and obviously you don’t want to compete with too many people but if someone did want to follow your steps what one or two steps what kind of advice you would give someone. Just kind of general for hair and makeup and then specific to esports.
Rosa: School, education and training number one. I will say this, religiously practice sanitary practices.
Lorena: Yes please.
Rosa: Sanitation is the biggest deal like there is, because we do a make upstream there is a giant bottle of hand sanitizer that sits on my desk. Right here like sanitation is such an important thing.
Lorena: Skin care, Please, Please.
Rosa: Makeup doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have good skin underneath it and if you don’t want to take good care of that skin. Right.
Lorena: Just help each other like this community just you do multiple jobs you’re not just a makeup artist we’re not just a week two. We’re like a helping hand we’re like good. Like we’re like therapists we help everybody else in other departments.
Rosa: I’ve helped build stages before.
Lorena: I’ve helped with wardrobe. We’re like yes we can do it too. Like sure, we’ll do that too. Anything. Just be very helpful in like be very kind to everybody like just so you know don’t be afraid to like interact with different departments. Get to know everybody you know you don’t have to be everybody’s best friend just you know.
Rosa: And don’t step on any toes and you know don’t be unprofessional about it. We did where I’m not going. I’m going to be very honest. I had an assistant that while the stage manager was trying to run a show was sitting up there and telling him all about like “Oh my God and things are so tough with my boyfriend.” Don’t do that. Be professional. If you want to talk about that bring him back to the makeup room or go step outside when he has the opportunity to do so. But doing that while you’re in the talent’s eye line is so extremely unprofessional.
Rosa: Before you jump into esports, go to film and television, go work music videos understand what it’s like working in the nitty gritty shows that way when you’re working a convention you realize what a real tough situation is like. Con life isn’t easy. But working in the middle of the desert in the middle of summer in Los Angeles with no air conditioning.
Lorena: It’s not fun
Rosa: It’s rough but definitely a lot harder. Yeah. You know so I would say work get get your thick skin going first.
Lorena: Yeah extremely thick skin.
Rosa: Because you know it’s a lot of people talk about this. I’ve never dealt with misogyny I’ve never dealt with sexism or racism within esports against me. But I have dealt with people think that I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m the makeup artist so I deal with more like because of my profession people don’t think I belong there. And it’s sort of like brah really, Let’s go. My Rosa’s favorite phrase 1v1 me Halo 3 shotty snipers let’s go. I got this. Any other setting. you’ll probably win but shotty, snipers is all me.
AN: Is there any harder parts about being in esports or is there any really big difference from like the television and music all that stuff to being an esports or is it pretty similar across industries?
Rosa: I would say live television because film action yadda yadda yadda dialog dialogue. Action. Action. Cut. We get to go back and do touch. So we’re doing touch ups every 10-20 minutes sometimes. Live, once it’s on it’s on like you get. You have to wait until a break until they’re in game and if they’re in game don’t go near the casters. They want to watch the game not have your hands in their face. And if you’re on my team don’t you ever get caught on that camera. You’re fired. Period. because that’s one thing I will not tolerate. I have twisted my ankle. I have sprained my wrist. I have like cracked my head on stages diving off to not be on camera. There is a point where I like it look like a scandal it look kind of like Monica Lewinsky because I had to dive and I got stuck at the stage and I’m sitting sitting below the desk on my phone tweeting at my boys going that picture of your chin. This is fun. They’re just like laughing casting the game because I’m sitting right next to them and that you know camera goes away I crawl out from the desk and they’re like what the crews are going to be like what happened I’m like I got stuck I was either on camera or I hid. So it’s about learning your timing and that’s why I want.
I would say go to film television first because then you learn production you’ll learn individual like crew roles and what they mean set etiquette which is so extremely important. And then you learn your timing and how to get a touch up in an out because as as much as you have time in film the director still wants to have that time with their actors so they want you in and out of touch ups as quickly as possible. So live streaming is what makes these words trickier. Understanding the different lighting.
Lorena: Oh yeah that is a big one.
Rosa: Because Starcraft is blue. You know Hearthstone is all warm in orange so everybody looks good in Hearthstone. Fucking up makeup in Hearthstone is so hard so I don’t know what you’re doing. Like you have to really try. Overwatch changes lighting like depending especially Overwatch League, forbid like who was it that gave us a hard time, the Shock. Whenever the Shock game on our lighting just went whoosh.
So understanding the different lighting and the different themes of esports.
And at the end of the day I would say even if you’re not a fan if you find yourself working in esports and you’re not a esports fan if you don’t care about gaming, just show respect to the industry please. It’s yes it’s small in the grand scheme of entertainment right. But this is a legitimate industry with a lot of hardworking people. There’s a lot of people that worked their butts off for the industry to be worked up to day for us to be able to say we have Overwatch League we have LCS. As you know Starcraft is thanks to so much of it. Right. And Quake like, we get to have this amazing industry and for people to come and be like “Oh my God that’s so cute so you like play video games and you get paid Oh my God that’s so cute” so you like do make up and you get paid. It sounds just as shitty as the like don’t I’ve had to I’ve seen that happen a lot. I think that’s like my biggest one of my biggest pet peeves for my crew. It’s like hey guys don’t do that you’re a professional and you’re getting paid to be here professionally and you’re getting paid a professional salary and rate at that. So show some respect to what’s paying your bills. You don’t need to know everything about it and this is actually a wide thing. You know crew everyone that wants to go into esport you don’t need to know every single little person in in-game and lingo to show some respect for the industry show some love for what’s you know paying your bills. What’s giving you work cause and not only that the chances are that someone’s gonna hear you say something shitty are really high the chances that we’re going to try to get you blacklisted or even higher because those that are passionate about esports. This isn’t a joke to us this is this is our lives.
This is something we care about very very very and to hear people like for example be disrespectful when we did a moment of silence for TB that was just like for me. I was like excuse me one that’s my friend, two this is a human life. Three you’re at work. What’s happening. You know so. Crew, makeup team, wardrobe, everybody. Show respect to the industry that’s paying your bills like that’s that’s an important one. I would say.
Lorena: Yeah I agree. Right. Yeah.
Looking for even more Into the Spotlight? Check out our interview with Anthony, the Graphic Designer from the Florida Mayhem!