Getting A-Listers Ready for Their Close-ups

Cynthia Nixon. Ed Harris. Dick Clark. What do these three celebrities have in common? They’ve all had their makeup done by James DeMarco, ’95.

Even though DeMarco is an Emmy-winning makeup artist who has worked on many famous faces over the past 13 years, his career ambition wasn’t originally in the world of lipstick and blush. “Makeup found me,” he said. “Whatever you’re supposed to be doing, it’ll find you—as long as you’re open to it.”

demarco-nixonA double major in communication and English at La Salle, DeMarco had his eye on the entertainment industry. He loved writing, directing, and producing. After he graduated, the Philly native became a page at NBC in New York, then he worked in operations at the television network for a year, but “creatively, I was bored,” he said. He recalled something his philosophy professor, Joseph Volpe, Ph.D., told him about life: “Always remember, you can always start over.”

So DeMarco went to school to be an aesthetician. After he graduated, DeMarco started out working for dermatologists and at spas, then branched out with makeup artist jobs. After about two years, he started working for NARS Cosmetics and became a national makeup artist for the company. Soon, he was doing makeup for fashion editorial shoots and runway shows in New York—and working on supermodels like Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, and Gisele Bündchen.

“Makeup found me. Whatever you’re supposed to be doing, it’ll find you—as long as you’re open to it.” —James DeMarco, ’95

Despite all of the success he was having, DeMarco wanted to work in his favorite medium: television. “I met some people who worked in TV and film and took some private classes to sharpen my skills,” he said. “I loved makeup and I loved TV, so why wouldn’t I combine those careers?”

DeMarco’s worked on shows like Good Morning America, The Chew, Celebrity Apprentice, Saturday Night Live, The Good Wife, Project Runway, 30 Rock, The Blacklist, and Blue Bloods, just to name a few. He also did makeup for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve for six years, up until Clark died in 2012. “He was such a legend—I grew up watching him,” DeMarco said. “He was the ultimate broadcaster. It was so special to me to be able to actually work with him.”

demarco-james-bwIn 2009, DeMarco won a Daytime Emmy for his work on One Life to Live. “Winning a Daytime Emmy was my top career goal, and I did it,” he said. “My career hasn’t come easy. I had to beat down a lot of doors and put out money when I wasn’t making a lot so that I could advance. But, to me, the Emmy meant that if you believe in your goals, pursue them, and have faith, they’ll come true.”

Since then, new doors keep opening for DeMarco, who’s on his way to building his own brand. He’s on the Fashion Police for Us Weekly magazine. He’ll have his own product debuting on QVC next year. He’s been a guest on TV shows to talk about makeup. He’s teamed up with Ulta Beauty to release YouTube videos on some of his favorite products. And he writes about soap stars’ makeup routines, beauty products, and fashion must-haves for Soap Opera Digest.

“I don’t regret my decision to change careers and try something new,” DeMarco said. “I’m really living my passion and doing what I love.”