Happy was the day when MakeUpMania brought on one of the most famous lines in cosmetics history. Here is the story behind the company from the CEO himself. Dana Nye was originally interviewed on Make Up Mania in the Fall of 1999. Since then we have insider product news that is happening in the New Year. Ben Nye announces their launch of metal palette paint boxes. Artists love to use those popular little boxes!!! New from Ben Nye includes palettes in the form of Aqua Paints, Lumiere Colors, and concealors. The first two palettes will be available in 6 and 12 packs. The concealors will be available in a valuable 12 pack. All will be refillable with those popular little snap-in containers that we are all familiar with. Also look for some great new Lip Lining pencils in a formula equivalent to MAC. Shades equivalent to these brand includes Spice, Nutmeg and Really Red. Other colors include some favorites similar to Stila, Chanel, and Christian Dior. Nye’s new logo appears on these svelte looking long-length lip pencils. They have gone to Germany to have these top quality pencils made. Available from leading suppliers at $6-$7.00 retail
Here is the original interview from Dana Nye by Vanna In the Valley.
What comes to mind when you think of movies like Planet of the Apes, The Fly, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Gone with the Wind or The King and I? Well- the legendary makeup artist Ben Nye Sr., is the distinguished artist behind these classic films. Ben Nye Sr.’s career spans four decades of Hollywood’s “Golden Era” as Makeup Director for 20th Century Fox. He was responsible for every aspect of makeup design for over 500feature films. Now that’s a career! Ben Nye left his mark on the Hollywood makeup artists’ kit as he created staples like Silver Grey Hair Color, Natural Lipstick, Old Age Wrinkle Stipple and specialty bruise and old age texture shades. He was one of the first to design natural foundation colors for African-American, Hispanic and Asian performers. Makeup artists cannot be without these cosmetic essentials in our kits today. Thank you Ben Nye! Most of us might have started out using a Ben Nye Student Makeup Kit in high school or college to learn the basics of theatrical, TV and film makeup application. In 1967, Ben Nye Sr., retired and started the Ben Nye Makeup Company, leaving his youngest son Mr. Dana Nye as CEO and President of the Nye Company. Dana, a working makeup artist, and CEO for 25 years with the company has introduced over 200 new products to the Ben Nye Cosmetic Line. An internationally recognized leader in the cosmetic industry, the Ben Nye Company holds its own in the spotlight of Hollywood Makeup Artists!
I had the privilege of interviewing Dana Nye at the Ben Nye Company and got to literally see makeup being made. I got the grand tour of the lab where all the makeup magic gets mixed, poured, sealed, contained and shipped out. What an amazing sight! Dana was busy on his daily routine of checking in on colors being mixed by the on-site chemist. I watched as Dana carefully analyzed and tested each Magic Cake color for consistency, clarity and accurate color.
Dana is friendly, personable and genuinely cares about all his employees. The Ben Nye Makeup Company is a down home, friendly, happy place to be. I felt as if I was back home in Texas with all the hospitality extended to me on my visit! Dana travels at least once a month checking on all his customers to make sure all is well with the product line. His brother Ben Nye Jr., is no stranger to the makeup world as he is a top makeup artist in the industry as well. The family tradition continues in the Nye family with Dana as the brains and power behind the successful Ben Nye Company. Dana enjoys spending time with his wife, and two sons, Adam 9, and Eric 7, when he’s not busy making makeup or putting it on someone! He also has a unique hobby restoring vintage Volkswagen buses! Read more about Dana’s 25 years in the makeup industry.
What was it like growing up with your Dad, Ben Nye Sr., a working makeup artist, in Hollywood?
Life seemed pretty normal. The most normal part of being from a makeup family was my father did not have to go out on location because he was a department head at Fox Studios. He had to go to work early, but was always around.
What do you remember most of your dad past his association as a famous makeup artist?
He had a number of interests that revolved around the outdoors. When I got older I went out fishing with him. He had gone ocean fishing numerous times with the Studio Club. They would charter a bus from the Fox lot and go down to San Felipe for the weekend to fish. There were a lot of activities he enjoyed that were associated with the Fox family. There was a feeling of comradeship to the environment at Fox that he liked.
Do you feel his influence as a makeup artist made you follow in his footsteps? Or did you actually have another career goal in mind for yourself?
I never really had another career goal in mind. I didn’t know that I was going to be a makeup artist growing up. I didn’t think my brother Ben Jr., did either. I went to college at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where I studied business. I still didn’t have a career goal. During the first part of college, my dad was still working at Fox, but retired from the business my sophomore year, in 1967. He then started his own makeup business. I was left with two more years of college, so he was running the makeup business by himself. In 1966, I started working as a makeup artist at Fox with my dad. That was his last full year. I took lessons from him so I could stand by on the set. He gave me lessons at the studio, I went home with my makeup case, and practiced on my mom, neighbors and friends. Practicing, that is what you want to do if you want to be a makeup artist.
Had you had any other makeup training or experience prior to the training you received from your dad at Fox?
: No. He didn’t really encourage it, he just let it happen to see what Ben and I would want to do.
So the makeup bug rubbed off more than you thought it would?
Yes. It seemed like an exciting opportunity as a summer job. That first year as a makeup artist I worked on the James Coburn film, In Like Flynn, the Erwin Allen television shows, Time Tunnel and Lost In Space. Everywhere I went there were makeup artists who were doing the shows who had been around Fox Studios for years. I got to work on Batman, The Green Hornet and Peyton Place. In 1966, because all of the union makeup artists were working, I was able to work full-time on a show because there were not enough artists to fill the jobs.
Did you then go on to complete your college degree?
Yes. My dad had been in business for a couple of years. He needed someone to market the business for him. He had good formulas, good colors, but he was all by himself and needed help.
Were you primarily working as a makeup artist or with your dad at the Ben Nye company?
In 1967, I did Planet of the Apes. I worked on Hello Dolly during the summer of 1968, then made makeup with my dad over in North Hollywood. He had a little hole-in-the-wall place in North Hollywood. His quest was to make makeup available to all makeup artists.
You have worked in all venues of media: TV, Film and Stage. Which media did you enjoy the most?
I never did live stage. I worked for my dad about five years straight before going back into full-time makeup in 1975. I have done sitcoms, assisted on feature films, but never had time to do a full length feature film, I was always busy in the makeup manufacturing business. I started doing sitcoms in 1985 at Paramount Studios. The show that was most successful for me, was Dear John. I did that show for three years. I also did a show for Showtime, called Brothers. Brothers was enormously successful and lasted for two years. There was a sense of camaraderie on the show and was well organized. I felt I was making a good contribution to the show. I was also working a couple of days a week with the makeup business, so it was a nice balance. Later, I did other shows such as The Jeffersons, Good Times and Going Tandem for Norman Lear. The last show I did full-time was The Mommies and the last season of The John Laraquette Show.
What is the feeling like for you jumping from the CEO of the Ben Nye Company back into the role of a makeup artist on a sitcom?
It’s exciting to be part of a crew. I miss that. I am suddenly thrust back into professional work with other makeup artists and hair stylists which gives me inspiration to look at what’s happening in the business. It gives me ideas to fill in the gaps that are in professional cosmetics. I was the third makeup artist on Frasier a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t worked in about a year, it was exciting. I did a nice job on the people I worked on and I had a great time.
What is your greatest asset or strength that sets you apart from being in the CEO role, back into the makeup role?
I have been doing makeup for 25 years. When I go back to work I might be “senior” to some artists; but I could very well be working with some contemporaries. I dig back into the experience from my dad Ben Sr., my brother Ben Jr., and Bruce Hutchinson have always been allies to me. We all come from the same mold. I work off of what I can remember, or I get the input or insight from others who have been there.
Is it safe to say that you are out of makeup artistry on a full-time basis? Would you go back into artistry full-time if offered the chance?
Yes, nobody is calling right now let’s say that. I’m looking for a full-time sitcom job right now, but I haven’t been looking too hard to find it. I would love to go back and do a show, so I hope something comes up where I am needed.
What’s the desire for you wanting to go back into makeup artistry full-time?
: I like working as a makeup artist. There is a feeling of accomplishment when I leave the Ben Nye Company. I’m Dana, when I go out there to be an artist, and I don’t talk about makeup. I like the anonymity of just being an artist and I have always avoided a connection to the makeup business. I’m just part of the crew at that point.
What was your father’s vision when he formed the Ben Nye Makeup Company?
He wanted to serve the professional. He had a creative eye, which allowed him to see color, texture and he was extremely talented with detail. The Fly head he created was on the cutting edge of prosthetics. His colors were complicated with color and subtle nuances. We have tried to maintain that quality and complexity of color within his vision.
What type of vision do you bring to the Ben Nye Company as CEO?
We have come full circle now. When I started with my dad, people in live theatre did not want to use our makeup, because it was a movie makeup. Fifteen years ago, I had makeup artists saying, “We know of your makeup, it’s a stage makeup line.” In the second half of this thirty-year period, we have spent a great deal of time pioneering on colors and makeup products that are oriented to the professional. Colors have changed and we have added substantially to our line. I think I have a sense that my father had about what the professional needs. I have used my dad’s sense of providing carefully crafted colors that will serve the world marketplace.
: What is a day-in-the-life of Dana Nye, CEO of the Ben Nye Company like?
My life is very hectic here. It got more hectic in 1996, when we folded in a company that was founded after Max Factor went out of business. We brought in a company that served as a private cosmetic label source in Southern California for twenty years. The gentleman that owned the company was in his eighties, and he passed away shortly after we bought his company. We hired his chemist, bought his equipment and the things he made for us, we started making it for ourselves. The past three years have been utilizing the talents of our chemist, to create new neutralizers and foundations for film, fashion and a number of other products. I approve each color batch that is made in our lab. We created a lot of new colors and sometimes a dozen color batches are made to get the right shade. I am looking at raw color and approving the use of that color over the course of a twelve-month period. I bring new products to the lab, and communicate with our customers. I write copy and advertising. I look at the overall facility to see that we are keeping clean and neat. I have my hands in a lot of different venues. I travel to visit clients. We don’t have sales people, so I am the one that goes out to check on our customers. We have longevity with our employees; some have been with us for fifteen years. They are truly talented professionals and take their job to heart. This company is a unique operation.
Looking ahead for the millennium, has the company set any specific goals or new vision for what’s upcoming?
I think the last five years have catapulted us into the millennium with our expanded capabilities. The vision is to take advantage of the talents we have here at the Nye Company. When we get an idea that is viable, we try to follow through as carefully and quickly as possible. We’ve had a couple of gratifying experiences with products in our line, specifically the Lumiére line. We want to continue to improve our product quality and keep our colors as consistent as possible. We have gained a global vision with Europe, Australia and Canada. We thrive on our customer feedback.
What is your favorite product from the Ben Nye Company?
The Lumiére line, Grande Luxe powder is my favorite. The line has so many possibilities wet or dry. The loose powder makes a fantastic dust or can be used wet to make its own paint. This line is enormously successful and satisfying as a palette for the makeup artist. Most recently, the LiquiSet and Final Seal has been an overnight success. Artists tell us they’re painting and sealing their makeups with a product that dries matte, is smudge-proof, waterproof and alcohol-free. We have a broader palette overall, and have come up with some extra-ordinary makeup, like body makeup.
If we took a look into your makeup kit, would you be a spokesperson for Ben Nye Cosmetics or do you have a little bit of everything?
I try to keep Ben Nye bases, Estee Lauder face powders and MAC lipsticks. My makeup kit is pretty broad.
Can you give us a trick of the trade makeup tip?
I did a cream stubble beard on an actor on Brothers. We shot on tape, so I did it very lightly and subtle. The actor was sent back to the makeup trailer three times to get it darkened. I ended up using a cream highlight for a salt and pepper look to make the beard look crisp, sharp and full of life.
What type of person would your employees describe you as?
They would say I’m an energetic person and I have a vision that may or may not materialize. I am always trying to come up with a new solution to a problem. I am very creative. I let other people actively create their own successes as well.
What is the magic behind the scenes of the Ben Nye Company?
We have collaboration and teamwork. We assemble people with common interests who like what they do. Those who are not sure if they belong here ultimately will move on. We want people who love the makeup business; it’s a common goal that we share and makes it so successful here!
What’s something we don’t know about you, all this makeup business aside?
I restore Volkswagen buses. I have two buses, a 1967 vintage and older. I have a small five-car collection. I get satisfaction from restoration; it’s just me and the bus!