When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be... Pimping Spain

I started this awhile ago, and I'd like to continue doing this regularly because I know so many people with badass jobs. In the second instalment of When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be..., I'd like to introduce thedramadiaries readers to my good friend [also one of the funniest people I know], Denise Tan, without whom I would have been to Spain a few times, fallen in love with the food, the language, amongst many other things. Delve deep into Denise's realm of tortilla, sangria and everything else in between...

Tell us about what you do.

I work at the Spain Tourism Board, I promote Spain as a tourism destination to our markets in South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand through advertising, publicity and events.

What does an average day at work look like for you?

Organising press trips for journalists from our markets, dealing with image/information requests by journalists, researching on the latest marketing methods and what’s new in society (very important to know what’s going on in the world to see if it can apply to promoting Spain), clipping articles, sending out press releases, organizing events, networking, deciding what media to advertise with.

Is this what you wanted to do as a child? Did you end up in this job by “accident” or was it a planned career choice?

Definitely not. I wanted to be a biologist or a zookeeper. Then I got practical when I was 13 and wanted to be a writer or an animator but I failed art for my O’levels because I couldn’t do a damn “batik”. How is that fair? I can draw but I can’t wax a stupid cloth. Sorry, I am angrily digressing. Anyway, ended up with this job by accident. I always wanted to learn a third language and picked Spanish because it’s the third most spoken language in the world after English and Mandarin Chinese and one day, my dad saw an ad in the paper and thinking there was some relevance, he passed it on to me. I went to the interview for fun.

What kind of education do you have?

I only have an advanced diploma from MDIS – grateful to them. Was one of the first batches of students when they opened and they were willing to give me a chance. Our education system decided for me that I was “right” for nursing. Hell no. I am not changing anyone’s diapers besides my baby’s or my parents'.

Do you think official qualifications are important for someone entering your industry? Yes and no. You definitely need to have a background in PR and Marketing to learn the basics but you also need experience and street savvy, something that schools will never be able to teach you.

What do you think is the best thing about what you do?

I get to meet people from all over the world and I get to travel to Spain / Europe pretty often!

What’s the worst thing?

Working with people who think that the whole world should revolve around them. And people who think the tourism board is a tourism agency - there's a difference, people!

Are you a workaholic?

When I first started, I was a workaholic but only because I had something to prove. I started out at the office very young (20) and though my director was doubtful, he gave me a chance. Now that I have stabilized myself, I take time off for my friends, family and myself – this is important because if you aren’t happy, no “great” job in the world can satisfy you either.

What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do?

You have to be willing to sacrifice – sometimes it’s not about the money you have to pay to get experience, I was willing to invest my time and effort to get experience. I got the current job at 20 but I started working since I was 17. I remember even offering to work at a production house for free though they said no, they wanted to pay me.

...How about a second pointer?

You also have to be open-minded, for example I was hammering nails into the floor in abandoned hangars when they were building sets for shoots. It doesn’t apply to my job now but at least I know how to handle a hammer. You also need to learn to have fun while doing menial jobs. All clichés but there’s always truths in them.

What do you wish you had known when you first started out?

Nothing really… [Faz's note: Maybe she would've like to have known what complete teases a lot of Spanish boys are!]

Above: Denise's room at Hotel Puerta América, Madrid

Are there any major misconceptions about your job or industry?

That it’s glamorous – it can be, I won’t deny that but there are times when you have to suck it up, roll your sleeves and pick up the muck.

What is the best thing that’s happened to you as a consequence of the work you do?

The people I have met.

What motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing?

No Spain, No Gain. Haha!! No I am sorry… making my mother and myself proud of what I am doing. Things such as projects and events that I have handled personally gets picked up and shown to the board of directors in Spain. Now that’s – motivation. Do you think you’ll continue doing this for the rest of your life?

Who knows…? Rather not think about that now.

P.S.: Have a cool job, or know someone with a cool job? Email me at!

Up & Coming Model: Sage Dakota

I think I've met hundreds of models in my six years in the industry; whether on castings or at shoots, it's only once in a while that one makes big enough an impression for me to bother. Some of them become friends [or very good friends, like Xiao, who is in town and being repped by Ave Models just in case you're needing an Asian face for a cover!], and the rest just become people with whom I've worked with for a few hours some point in time in my career. And then, there are other fresh-faced ones who you know will make it big if they stick to their guns, and one of them is Sage Dakota. The redhead hottie speaks to thedramadiaries about modelling, music and other maniacal mayhem.

Tell thedramadiaries readers about yourself. I’m Canadian based in Singapore, I moved here in 2007, then to the US in 2009, and now I am back!

How did you get the idea of becoming a model? What happened? The idea of modeling never really came to me, I was kind of just raised into the industry because my mother is a Hair & Makeup artist. When I was younger I went to set with her a few times and the photographers wanted to use me in some of the shots, which lead to my mom getting me an agent, and I had my first big-time commercial for Nutella when I was 11, which is still airing today!

Do you enjoy being in front of the camera? Why? Yes, I enjoy being in front of the camera cause I can play up different emotions! I’ve always been into fashion and trying different looks, in fact for my grade 6 graduation I had my hair made into a bow (before Lady Gaga, Thanks Mom!) and I wore a vintage black dress.

How has it been working in Singapore so far? I’m not officially with an agency here right now, but I am working with a local agency that my agent in Toronto, Chantale Nadeau, put me in connection with. The modeling industry in Singapore has many international models, so yes, I have met models here that are from Russia, Brazil, Australia, and Canada.

How cool is it that your mom is a hair & makeup artist? Very cool! My mom had to teach me at an early age how to wind back lipsticks, because my Mom would get to set only to realize that I had gotten into her makeup kit, according to her… many lipsticks were squished!

If God was a DJ, what music would he play? Anything but Justin Bieber. Hopefully Local Natives, MGMT, City & Colour, and a bit of Ke$ha, because such talent that’s gone into lyrics like, “I like your beard” needs to be heard.

Tell us about your style, and where you like to shop? If a store is open, and there’s clothes inside, that’s where I like to shop. But seriously, yes I like to shop, it’s inherited. Some local places I like to shop include: Far East Plaza, Topshop, Wisma Atria, anywhere in Ion, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s at Tanglin Mall (shh… don’t tell my father).

Tell us a secret talent. I can fold my hand against my wrist. And a not-so-hidden talent is that I am an aspiring singer.

What pisses you off? I adore my parents, but their lectures get a bit annoying and repetitive.

If you could be invited to one person's birthday party, whose would it be? I know she is a bit overkill in the media right now, but Lady Gaga, she’s so crazy (in a good way) it would have to be a good party!

You've lived in Canada, the US and Singapore, and you're barely sixteen! What are you looking forward to most now? Yeah, I get around ;). I’ve been very lucky to travel and see as much as I have (thanks Dad for working so hard!) I’m looking forward to the endless possibilities that travelling and life experiences have opened my eyes to.

Good luck, Sagey! Go out there and take over the world - and when you do, tell 'em all you were on thedramadiaries first! ;o)

photos by Richard Dubois & Andrea Claire

When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be... A Make Up Artist/ Hairstylist!

Because my first post about my career in styling and writing got so much feedback [yes, I still owe some of you emails, I will get back to you - promise!], I thought I'd make this a regular thing, especially cos' a lot of you are in the age range where you're trying to figure out what you want to do in life! And hey, it's always fun reading about someone else's days of debauchery, isn't it? In the first When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be... feature, I put my good friend and esteemed colleague [we first met at a Crocs shoot! Oh, the horror!] Andrea Claire on the hot seat. For those who have been reading my blog regularly, Andrea is a regular feature not only because she gives me fabulous hair cuts and colours, but also because of how much she kicks ass - three kids, a palace she calls home and a portfolio that's the envy of many, we find out how this sensational powerhouse became the established international hair and makeup guru that she is today:

Tell us about yourself: I am a hair and makeup artist from Canada who has been gallivanting around the globe with her husband and 3 children, toting my beauty box of wonder. I look younger than I am and act it too! I am insanely honest, loyal, respectful and with a side of a quirky sense of humour -I tend to have deadpan delivery that can get me unintentionally into trouble. I will help anyone out and expect nothing in return. I overthink everything; but I am told this is common in a lot of women so I am normal. I tend to go on and on and on .... :)

You're a hair and makeup artist who has worked in Toronto, New York, Singapore, and a lot of places in between, tell us got started: That's a short question with a very long answer. I started makeup artistry when I was still in high school; it was the early 80s. I was a 'New Waver' -:)  the 80s was the perfect time and influence to become a hair & make up artist! I naturally progressed over the years and when I completed high school I apprenticed as a hairstylist too. When I was 22 I got my hairstyling license; by then I was based in Toronto, Canada and working in a salon in Yorkville (the posh area) before transitioning to the freelance world.

Do you consider yourself a hair stylist first or a makeup artist first? Because I am a licensed hairstylist I am considered hair first but I do both equally well.

Is there something you enjoy doing more than the other? In my career I have been on 2 makeover shows, in charge of teams for Canada's Fashion Week (leading a hair team of 15 for 3 seasons), NY Fashion Week (leading a makeup team of 10 for one season) and Canadian Idol (leading a hair team of up to 5 at times for 2 seasons), and had assistants on countless projects!

I love running teams and creative directing looks - this is me saying I am a control freak; but in a good way! I am very particular so if I am only doing hair or makeup then I expect to work with someone who is equally particular. It doesn't mean you can't have fun on set. I have worked often with Bobbi Ng, she is an amazing talented makeup artist and I always look forward to our collaborations.

I think artists thrive off each other as creative minds are always racing and one artist might have a different technique that spurns ideas. If I collaborate with another artist and they do not inspire me in some form I feel that day is missing something. Oh my god - did I even answer your question!

No, you didn't, but it's okay! That was an interesting answer for a question I didn't ask! How important is it to go to school to learn makeup or hair techniques? Is it possible to learn on the job whilst assisting someone? Learning is important throughout life otherwise you will become a boring person. I believe that every artist has their own style but it does need to stem from the basics so, yes, it is very important to go to a reputable school. On the job learning is great too but you need to assist with some basic knowledge already.

How should one go about trying to start a career in hair and makeup?

I think one needs to decide what aspect. Film? TV? or like me Beauty and Fashion. I have worked in Canada, the US and Singapore and it is the same all over- feast or famine. Meaning the industry has it's ups and downs and you need to know how to manage through it.

Plus, get a portfolio started - even if you are just doing friends hair and makeup, take photos. If someone has some work to show me I can tell if they know what they are doing even if they are not working on a supermodel. Find the key players to assist; look in magazine editorials and contact the artists and ask if you can assist. Some jobs you will get a minimum pay and some assisting jobs are non-paying: but if you bust your butt and learn from the senior artists you will make it.

You've been in the industry for twenty years now. Was there a divine intervention of some sort that make you decide this is what you want to do for the rest of your life? How did you know this was something you rocked at when you were 21, for example? Did you ever doubt yourself and thought of switching jobs? It's so weird as I just naturally progressed into this career. It was really as if I had a calling and nothing else held my interest. Except for acting. I did a lot of theatre in school and that certainly helped for my TV shows and guest appearances.

I have been really lucky. I know that I have talent but I also love what I do and I am very passionate about it. I've never had doubt, I have however been surprised at how many people reach out to me and tell me they admire my work. I think: ME? You know my work? So flattering. I had someone email me from the Czech Republic- that was one word to describe: WOW!? They know of me there?

Tell us something funny that happened on a job: Oh - so many things.....The best one: I was shooting a HUGE tv commercial, so many people on set and I was chatting with the wardobe stylist and not paying attention - they started rolling and I noticed the actress chewing gum and yelled 'WAIT" and ran in lecturing the poor girl on how not to chew on camera. She says 'But the Director just gave it to me' Everyone started to laugh and the Director mocked me and then suggested I pay attention [he wanted her character, gossip girl-like teen, to be chewing gum] . I nearly died of embarrassment but SOOO funny!

Now, kiss and tell - we hear you have big wigs under your belt. Who are the famous people you have prettied up? The Veronicas, Miranda Richardson, Kelly Rowan, Malin Ackerman, Lady Antebellum.... um.... always forget - such a bad name dropper! Coco Rocha, Bill Nighy.... there's more.... um... Sarah Slean an amazing singer/songwriter!

Tell us some of your beauty products...And your beauty secrets! I cannot live without... (besides Visa, that is) My Dermalogica skin care, FACEatelier Foundation, L'Oreal Voluminous mascara, Label M Dry shampoo and Label M mousse. My GHD beveled flatiron- and my husband.

Baby Zoie's a hit on - when we grow up, we wanna have babies like yours! Has having kids ever stopped you from taking up a job? I am a workaholic but my children are number one. When I was living in Toronto I was a single mother with 2 pre-teen girls. I was leading the hair team for fashion week when my girls fell ill. I had called my ex who had no job at the time to come help take care of them; he said a flat 'no'. I had to call in and cancel my day! FML - ME the creative director of hair...I missed only one day of the week but, I lost that contract after that season and I think it was because of this.

But, I have no regrets - I led Fashion Week for 3 seasons - not many have that on their resumes.

Another, when I was a single mother story: Good Charlotte had requested me for a music video and I had taken my girls to the cottage, they pleaded with me not to take the shoot, so I declined it. My agent was on one end saying 'are you sure you are declining Good Charlotte?' as my girls are saying 'please mom please we want to stay at the cottage' - what was a mother to do??

I had to call and cancel doing a cover shoot with Amica due to the fact that I was stuck in quarantine with my family in the Hong Kong Swine Flu Hotel...

Makeup artist, hairstylist, writer, mother, wife, sister, daughter, (hopefully not grandmother too soon!), videographer, blogger... what else is next in the fabulous life of Andrea Claire? Who knows! I just roll with the punches! My life should become a movie. Know any good ghost writers? (laughs) I continue on with the freelance world. I'd love to involve myself with more fashion weeks - Singapore if they'd have me! I'd have to creative direct though!

Here's the best part: Come June 2010, Andrea Claire will be moving back to Singapore after a year in Austin, so she's available for hair cuts, colours, make up services - plus, twiddle your pretty little thumbs, ladies, she's coming with big beauty news! Watch this space and Andrea's blog for updates.

If you have any questions for Andrea, please feel free to drop a comment here, or to email me. She will take some time but she will answer your queries!