This is my kind of jury duty: I’m a judge on Glam Masters, a competition pitting talented makeup artists against one another for the ultimate prize of collaborating with executive producer Kim Kardashian West on a one-of-a-kind product for her KKW Beauty line. Each episode in the series poses three challenges—from creating the perfect editorial look to conjuring special-effects transformations—to contestants, whose bona fides run the gamut from professional celebrity artists to established YouTubers with six-figure followings.
After getting miked up on the first day, I met my three larger-than-life colleagues: actress Laverne Cox, makeup mogul Mario Dedivanovic, and YouTube star Kandee Johnson.
“Wash face, no base, that will be your starting place” is just one of the many one-liners Laverne trots out on the show. Though you might know her from Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, I know Laverne by her Grammy-worthy voice. Working on this show gave me a front-row seat to daily serenades from her trailer next door. Smart as a whip, she can strike down contestants (not to mention her fellow judges) with only a look.
If you’re looking for a makeup master class, Mario is your guy. The perfectionist has nothing but the utmost respect for his craft, which is why Kim has relied on him for her makeup for nearly a decade. He’s calm, kind, and brutally honest, attracting beauty junkies in droves to his training sessions and bringing all that professional knowledge to the show. Not going to lie, I think everyone—girls and boys alike—had a crush on Mario.
Kandee started producing beauty tutorials online back when no one even knew what YouTube was. Her transformation videos have gone viral (to the tune of 30 million views) and are completely addictive to watch. She relates to the contestants on every level, from their ambitions against all odds to the all-important application of a falsie.
I genuinely adore them all. Together we shared a month of laughing, gasping, and contour craziness. There was messy liner and even messier tantrums, because let’s face it: Sometimes beauty can get pretty ugly.
This story appears in the April 2018 issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands March 27.