Black Make Up Legends – Roxanna Floyd

by michela wariebi

When we speak of makeup legends we must speak of the life and legacy of Roxanna Floyd. During her time, this powerhouse made her mark touching a multitude of famous faces on the red carpet, in music videos, on film and had her work grace hundreds of magazine covers.  So perhaps by some name, she was a celebrity makeup artist, but undoubtedly, she was a favorite of the industry, with both clients and peers alike.

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Harriet Cole, former Editor in Chief of Ebony Magazine is quoted as saying,

 “She was a genius with a set of makeup brushes. And she appreciated brown skin so much that she learned how to blend colors perfectly to ensure that a woman of any and every skin tone would be flawless before the camera. Roxanna was a perfectionist.”

Endearingly known as the “chocolate diva” herself, she specialized in flawless and impeccable makeup artistry on women of color.  Floyd began her career in the 80’s and her impeccable artistry led to her being the go-to girl for Essence magazine for some time – executing the makeup for over 60 covers of the publication.  With her first cover featuring Halle Berry.

Beyond Essence, she amassed over 200 magazine covers overall including Cosmo, Glamour, Vanity Fair and InStyle.  Her mastery of brown skin also led to her being a favorite among top celebrities.  Floyd’s clients included Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Janet Jackson Lauryn Hill, Halle Berry, Pam Grier, Angela Basset and Whitney Houston.

Clients Queen Latifah and Angela Basset where so fond of Floyd’s work that they brought her on as their personal artist for films like Beauty Shop, Waiting to Exhale and more, giving her 11 film credits in addition to her music video and print work.  That work on Angela Basset in Waiting to Exhale impressed Whitney Houston to the extent of bringing Floyd on as her personal artist for years, where she created some of Houston’s most iconic looks at the later part of her career.

Floyd’s expertise went beyond the face and allowed her to consult with brands on developing products to meet the needs of women of color.  She consulted with Avon, Mary Kay, and Proctor & Gamble.  She also worked as Creative Director for Fashion Fair Cosmetics and played an integral role in the development of the Queen Latifah Covergirl Queen Collection.

Over a 20+ year career Roxanna Floyd accomplished so much and I wonder why there is such a lack of documentation online to say as much. I know her time was before the information age, but perhaps it’s time to think of the deeper importance of being sure to credit all parties who are a part of our documentation of time through storytelling in film, fashion and beauty.

Sadly, Floyd died in her sleep at the age of 49.  She is survived by her family, and those who will always remember her significant contributions to this industry.

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