Have you ever wondered what it's like to follow your dreams and come to Los Angeles and go to Make Up School. We decided to interview a recent graduate from one of the local schools to give you an idea of what it's like. Straight from Houston, Texas meet Mandy Benton! She is a recent graduate of Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts, and is on her way to being the next makeup goddess! She loves the fast pace and excitement Los Angeles has to offer for her new career as a makeup artist. Mandy is ready to paint the stars or perhaps give them an up-do? Mandy is multi-talented as a licensed cosmetologist, and the industry loves those who can do it all. Look out Hollywood, this Texan is on her way to stardom as a makeup and hair artist!

Tell me where you're from and how you arrived in Hollywood, California?

I'm from Houston, Texas. I was looking to get into the makeup industry as a career and wanted to get more education. I came to California with the intention of getting trained in the field of makeup. The first thing I thought of was school.

: Are you right out of high school?

: I am 20 years old. I graduated in 1998 and attended college for one semester. I decided college wasn't for me and changed career directions. I enrolled in Cosmetology School and graduated in December 1999. After graduating I came straight out to California to pursue my interest in makeup artistry.

: In high school was makeup an interest for you? Where did your love of makeup begin?

: I have always been interested in hair and makeup throughout high school. My girlfriends and I would have slumber parties and I would always want to do everyone's hair and makeup. For dances and prom's I made everyone up! I went to college because I thought I should have a degree, and because that's "what your supposed to do." I decided college life wasn't for me because my interests were in hair and makeup, and I believe in doing what I love.

: What made you decide to attend Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts in Burbank, California, out of all the schools in Los Angeles?

: I found Westmore Academy through the Internet. I looked up several other makeup schools as well. I started asking around locally in Houston if anyone knew of Westmore Academy. The people I knew all recommended Westmore Academy. The one person I knew in Los Angeles raved about the reputation of this particular school. I was sold. I was confident that Westmore Academy was where I wanted to continue my education.

: Did you get a chance to come out and visit the school before enrolling?

: No, but my Dad came out on a business trip and checked it out for me. I was in Cosmetology school at the time so I could not leave Houston to visit Westmore.

: What course did you decide to enroll in at Westmore?

: I enrolled in the 12-week Beauty and Special Effects class.

: Tell us about your experience with the 12-week program.

: I went into the class expecting I would learn a lot. After graduating, I have learned so much more than I thought. We had so much fun! We learned retro beauty techniques, different beauty looks and the technique of the Westmore Method.

: How many instructors did you have?

: I had 2 main instructors. Marvin Westmore would come in occasionally to teach. We had different specialty teachers come in and out depending on what we were studying.

: What part of the course was your favorite?

: I really enjoyed the beauty portion of the program. The special effects makeup that I liked the most was the face painting. We studied Diakonoff's techniques and I tried to duplicate one of his paintings on the face. It was a challenge.

: What was one specific thing while in makeup school that you were especially proud of?

: The face painting by Diakonoff. I used fine hair-like brush strokes to create the look. I put my heart into the makeup painting and felt it was some of my best work.

: Now that you are fresh out of makeup school, what is your main goal as a makeup artist? Do you want to specialize in one area of makeup?

: I really want to do beauty makeup and a little special effects, but concentrate on beauty. I want to do hair as well, while I work to get into the local union. I would also like to work in TV and film as well as win an Oscar!

: Are you planning to market yourself as a hair and makeup artist?

: Having hair skills has worked so far to my advantage in landing some recent jobs. I am going to try to do both right now and hopefully it will work to my benefit.

: Has there been anything negative about your makeup education experience at Westmore Academy?

: I wish the course had been longer. We got to practice a lot but I wanted more time. Being a model each day in class for my classmates was challenging. I hate to have makeup put on my face, but I patiently sat for my classmates since they did the same for me.

: How did Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts prepare you to go out and work as a freelance makeup artist?

: We put together resumes about one month prior to graduation. They told us how to look for jobs in the trade papers, how to network, and how to contact photographers to help build our portfolios.

: Did you have apprehensions about getting out there and working after graduation?

: The approach from Westmore was very realistic on what to expect when you first start out. They told us it would be hard at first, but once you learn to market yourself and network things become a lot easier.

: What is one of your specialties as an artist that you either discovered in school or just in general?

: I have really learned to have a good attitude about everything. I want to take those free jobs so I can get some good experience. I want to be myself on the job not someone I'm not. Being myself, having confidence, and bringing out my creative side helps me to be an artist not just a make-up applicator.

: Are you working another full-time job while you are pursuing your makeup career?

: Yes. I am working part-time at a salon called The Gates in San Marino.

: What advice do you have for an aspiring makeup artist?

: I would definitely go to school and get a good foundation for what being a makeup artist is all about. If I had not gone to school I would not have known how to network or have half the confidence I have now.