Alesha Ledeatte-Williams Talks … Hairdressing For The Stars

The people behind the scenes don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

We hope to change that. Let’s get to know Hair & Makeup artist Alesha Ledeatte-Williams …

Introduce yourself …

My name is Alesha Ledeatte-Williams. I’m a hair and makeup artist working mostly in TV and film but occasionally dabbling in other types of makeup when the opportunity presents itself. I’m British born of Jamaican and Antiguan descent. I grew up and still live in east London.

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …

A constant cycle of learning.

Tell us about your latest project …

My latest project is one of personal development. I’m taking 3 months off work to do a barbering course.

You currently do hair and makeup, so why barbering?

Often you’re hired based on skill so adding to the arsenal can only bode well I reckon. It’s important to upskill. Limited skill is a massive barrier to entry into this industry and being able to rise through the ranks.

What’s been the most impactful job to date and why?

Probably Queen Charlotte. Not many people notice but it’s rare that films or TV shows are set in this time period. Dangerous Liaisons, Moll Flanders, Pirates of the Caribbean, Vanity Fair, and Harlots, are just a few that come to mind, but some are remakes that don’t allow for too much deviation from the original story. Therefore, to have black people written in this period, free of the singular character narrative that we tend to end up with is even more rare. Shonda’s writing has made room for creative freedom with hair and makeup in my opinion. So I’m delighted that she created an opportunity and world for me to learn these skills.

Alesha doing Arsema Thomas’ makeup – Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
GETTING TO KNOW YOU

What’s your current plan B?

My approach to plan B is that I’m always thinking about it I suppose. It’s always integrated into my Plan A thinking. I’ve developed skills that are trades independently like with my barbering course, barbering is a vocation unto itself. So I feel confident that I can lean on the skills I’ve acquired to work if there is ever a lull – like perhaps now with the writer’s strike. There will always be TV and film work. I like to think I’m good at my job so I haven’t really thought about a backup. I feel other pathways will naturally present themselves if I stay alert. The industry is so vast that even if an artist were to move away from scripted TV or film specifically, there’s still so much more hair and makeup work out there, light entertainment TV, theatre, commercials, red carpet it really would be hard to just leave with so many different avenues to explore. I am an entrepreneurial thinker and that means that I’m always building my skill base because that will always allow me flexibility.

What are you watching right now?

Scandal – Kerry Washington’s makeup is exemplary. Everyone looks incredible all the time. The continuity is flawless, and of course, Shonda has written the bars.

What are you reading right now?

I don’t read anymore. I used to devour books but I don’t desire it. I don’t understand why that is but I hope to pick it back up soon.

What are you listening to right now?

Candace Brathwaite and Coco Sorrel’s podcast Closet Confessions and the various playlists I’ve amassed on Spotify that I can’t let go of.

The last thing you saw on stage?

Once On This Island at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Incredible. Everyone should go and watch it.

What’s on your bucket list?

I’d love to have shot something on every continent.

Celebrate someone …

I wanna shout out Dumebi Anozie. Quietly she’s been doing some great projects and is building a name for herself in this part of the industry. She’s worked hard and she deserves the opportunities she’s getting and I’m just glad to see her doing her thing.

Celebrate yourself …

It’s recently occurred to me that I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to choose the projects I want to work on. I’ve had options and also I’ve worked consistently since graduating from makeup school. Any gaps in my work have been of my own making where I’ve deliberately turned down work either to breathe and rest or to learn something new. As a freelancer to be able to sustain yourself financially during those times and be confident that other opportunities will present themselves is a position of privilege that I don’t take lightly. Many HMUA’s have left the industry altogether especially post/covid.

Alesha onset with Halle Bailey – The Little Mermaid

Whose footsteps are you following in?

I am carving my own path, which I think is a big part of being free. However, I acknowledge many of the black men and women across the industry who have paved the way in a very non-diverse world, for example, Pat McGrath, Matiki Anoff, Sheldon Edwards from HD Cutz, Joy Adenuga, Dionne Smith, Sharon Martin, Darcia Martin and Kevin Fortune to mention but a few. Some of whom I have had the pleasure of making acquaintance with and others as part of my future aspirations.

What’s Next?

Well, I’ll be working part-time in a barber shop so that I can build the muscle memory to not forget everything I’ve learned on my course lol.

Where can we find you?

Instagram: @Alesha_L_williams

Where can we see your latest work?

I played a small part in The Little Mermaid. I was part of the Sardinia unit. I went initially to be part of crowd with the intention of helping Halle out when she needed it. However, due to Covid and the time restraints we had, I ended up helping Halle’s stylist with her hair the whole time instead! So all of her outside beach scenes I helped with her Locs. I didn’t get credited though, but then so many incredibly talented people who contributed didn’t – including her nail tech Stephanie Staunton, who also did Melissa McCarthy’s nails.

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