Making it up: Wendy’s prince of style, Merrell HollisFeature Story Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
When Merrell Hollis felt ready to spread his wings, he packed his makeup case and booked a one-way ticket from Atlanta to Manhattan. It’s been a fast ride ever since. In that time he has sculpted the faces of celeb royalty from Mary J. Blige and Usher to Ludacris. Hollis has even held the coveted position of key groomer to P. Diddy and all of the Bad Boy Entertainment artists. He left that role for the job he holds today – makeup man to America’s queen of dish, Wendy Williams.
How did you go from Atlanta Peach to the Big Apple?
I hit a glass ceiling in Atlanta. There was nothing left to conquer. NYC is the hair and make-up mecca and I knew if I wanted to continue to be challenged, I had to make the move.
Was it tough adjusting to a new city?
Man, moving to New York City was one on the harder things I’ve ever done in my life. I came with nothing. No friends. No job leads. It was the total leap of faith you can only take when you’re young and don’t know any better.
Sometimes it pays to shake things up in life.
It has definitely paid off for me. I can honestly say today I wouldn’t change anything about that decision to move.
You’ve worked with some of the top urban artists. Names like P. Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Ludacris.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate.
Who has been your favorite?
(Laughs) I hate that question! They are all my favorites, especially the ones that call me back!
That means P. Diddy must rank high.
Most definitely. I’ve been working with Diddy for years. I was the key groomer at Bad Boy before moving to The Wendy Williams Show.
How did you get the job with Wendy Williams?
The person who was doing her hair at the time referred me and set up the initial meeting. I guess I charmed her because she hired me and we’ve been working together ever since.
Do you prefer daytime TV to working with the music stars?
I like working with both daytime and music stars. I can be a wild child like many of the music artists I work with, so we collaborate well together. I think working on daytime brings me back to reality. Daytime TV is a bit more tamed, which I need every once in a while. But working with music artists affords a bit more creative freedom which I relish.
You and Wendy were in San Diego recently.
Yeah, we were in L.A. taping Dancing with the Stars and we managed to take a day trip!
Wendy was awesome on DWTS!
I love that Wendy did the show. It shows her enormous courage. She has never had formal training in dance. There aren’t many with the strength to try something new in front of all of America and then allow criticism.
Were you there when Wendy interviewed the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin?
I was and can I tell you the best part? Aretha remembered me from when I made her up for a Jet magazine cover two years ago. That was humbling.
Do you ever just have to stop and pinch yourself?
I do. Sometimes I have to step back and take it all in. I tend to be a perfectionist and I’m rarely satisfied. I can forget how blessed I am if I don’t stop to smell the roses every once in a while.
Contact Merrell Hollis on Facebook.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=20394