Meet Kyla Wright-Givens. Beauty brand Urban Decay‘s first Black female Director of Education. Kyla is in charge of training and educating Urban Decay’s staff, ensuring that their makeup skills are on fleek!
ShineMyCrown: You’re the Director of Education for Urban Decay. On a scale of 1-10, how high is your job satisfaction?
Kyla Wright-Givens: I have been with the company for 9 years. I started out as a makeup artist for the brand and have grown through tons of different jobs over time, so I truly know the brand inside and out. I am the true definition of “started from the bottom now we here”, haha! I would say my level of job satisfaction would be a 9.999 (because working at the nucleus of a billion dollar beauty brand is totally crazy – and I absolutely love it!)
KWG: It’s funny, I was just having a “first black” conversation with a friend the other day. In my world, in my family, and in black culture, being the first African-American Director of anything is a huge honor and an enormous badge of pride. In the rest of the world, however, it is likely to hold little merit outside of “what’s the bonus structure like?”, haha. Either way, I worked hard to get where I am. I am immensely thankful to UD for entrusting me with my role and for always giving me the space to grow. Maybe I’ll get a “first black” tattoo one day, just for fun…
SMC: What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
KWG: In my eyes, I am surrounded by queens and kings. The most fulfilling part of my job is being able to treat people like royalty, and teaching others how to honor each other through internal and external beauty. Yes – at the end of the day its makeup, but it is really so much more. I make it my mission to tap into the internal beauty of everyone that crosses my path, and allow the makeup to be a catalyst for self-love.
SMC: Has the beauty industry evolved when it comes to catering to Black/Brown skin?
KWG: It really, really has! The beauty industry is waking up and realizing that the chocolate dollars really do have major value! I think technology has played a big part in showing people of color and the rest of the world that makeup is for EVERYONE.
Growing up, the only African-American people we saw wearing makeup in the 80’s were “fast girls” and church ladies (*laughs* the irony!). As teenagers, we embraced the glory of Carmex or Vaseline to make our lips shine, but that was really the extent of “makeup” that felt accessible unless slated in the aforementioned categories. Black girls didn’t regularly experience the rite of passage that is a trip to the Clinique counter during 8th-grade summer. The Black community pushed self-love more than it pushed beauty product
when I was a kid and in generations past. But, things seem to be evolving quite a bit.
I can’t wholeheartedly say the beauty industry is “woke” now, as that would be quite the stretch. I will say that people of color are embracing makeup in ways that were taboo in past generations, and the beauty industry is headed in the right direction to cater to the needs and wants of people beyond those who have always had the business cornered. All in all, INCLUSIVITY is what matters.
SMC: For other young women hoping to follow in your footsteps, what advice can you give them?
KWG: My advice to those who aspire to follow my lead is simple:
*Do not change who you are at the core to get where you want to go.
*Keep your culture close.
*Remember that internal beauty is more important than external beauty.
*Lead with humility, but still maintain your inner gangster.
*Do not fear success.
SMC: What tips can you give us for maintaining flawless skin?
SMC: Who’s in your #BlackGirlMagic playlist right now?
KWG: SMC: The Black Opera’s newest artist SoulGalaxyGirl, Jimetta Rose, Suzi Analogue, SZA, Solange, mid-2000s Amel Larrieux, Kelis forever, 90’s Kim Burrell, Nina Simone, Little Dragon and Hiatus Kaiyote.
SMC: Last book you read? What was great about it?
KWG: I read multiple books at once.
*The Four Agreements – it is the way I live my life. You NEED it.
*The Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes – GAME CHANGER!
*The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros – great storyline. Fun read.
*The Vortex, Abraham Hicks – this one is a trip in such a good way. You’d have to read it to get it.
SMC: One beauty product no woman should leave the house without and why?
KWG: Something for the lips. Don’t get caught out there with ashy-lip-itis, queens and kings!
SMC: Black/Brown Girl Magic means (to me)…
…it means I am a part of an epic, crazy, beautiful secret society! It’s like “fight club” – we are all members but don’t need to speak about it. We just know the magic exists, and we watch each other radiate the closer we get to one another. Our magic manifests in every move we make. It is special; it’s brilliant; it’s boundless, and it is un-freaking-touchable.