In our Faces Of the Future series we had to include Nai-Jelee Cibrian, rising MUA star, as our Creative #5! Cibrian seeks to use her art to demonstrate how inner beauty can be mirrored on the outside and to use herself as a canvas for reflecting inspiration found in many places.
Just The Facts
Name: Nai-Jelee Cibrian
Ethnic Origins: African American, Mexican, Native American
Sexual Identity: Lesbian
Art Medium: Makeup
Social Media Handle: @naijellybean (Instagram), @NaiJellyBean (Twitter)
Contact Email: [email protected]
SOULE: How do you feel your work best illustrates your ethnic and queer identity?
Nai-Jelee Cibrian: You don’t often see black queer women in the makeup industry. Makeup circulates quickly, so by doing what I do (and using my face as a canvas), I am showing that I’m comfortable in my identity; other black queer women can see this and feel more affirmed in themselves. It is by us seeing each other in these different space that helps build comradery and solidarity.
What do you want to say to the rest of the world?
Black IS beautiful, 100%. There really isn’t enough representation in the industry for black women, but the few I have seen have given me strength to jump into it myself. Seeing black women in the industry helped me to embrace myself.
What has been your favorite project thus far?
Recently I’ve started a makeup series, a series of looks, inspired by an anime called Bleach! No name yet, but we’ll call it “Bleach Character Makeup Looks” (can be seen on Instagram).
If you could work with ANYONE, celebrity, past public figures, etc., who would it be?
Jackie Aina! When I first started getting into makeup, she was the first black makeup artist that I saw on YouTube. A lot of her tips really helped me get started and the way she unapologetically represents women of color has always inspired me.
Do you consider yourself to be a role model?
I wouldn’t call myself a role model because I haven’t earned that title quite yet. I believe a good role model is someone who actively tries to make change, and for now I’m just a working girl with a knack for blending. But, someday soon, I do hope to become more active in my community so that I can become a role model to anyone seeking inspiration.
What specifically inspires you about anime to create the beautiful looks based on them?
In the anime realm, anything you could ever imagine comes to life. The genres and spectrum of creativity are so endless. When I translate that into makeup, the looks really create themselves. I suppose my favorite part about doing anime inspired looks is that, for a while, I get to be more than just me; I can be whoever I want.
What advice would you give to those who want to start make-up art but don’t quite know where to begin?
My best advice would be that you cannot reach your full potential until you ignore what is considered the “norm.” The idea of what makeup is “supposed” to look like will only hold you back. Do whatever the hell you want to do and it will be beautiful.
To learn more about Nai-Jelee and her powerful creative vision, please visit her referenced social media and webpages.
Author’s Note: After looking through her portfolio, there was no question of Nai-Jelee being on the top 10. Check out her Instagram and Twitter! This young woman shows her queer pride and her pride in being a black woman in a way that seems so seamless. Not to mention that her anime-inspired looks are absolutely iconic!