The B-Side Get to Know Thuso’s Glam Team: Hairstylist Sharif Poston and MUA Rebekah Aladdin The Fall Issue
Thuso Mbedu glam team
the digital issue

Get to Know Thuso’s Glam Team: Hairstylist Sharif Poston and MUA Rebekah Aladdin

The B Side

Traditionally, the B side refers to the flip side of a record. The A side contains the more front-facing hits—the singles—but on the B side, you can get in a bit deeper with the artist. And quite honestly, there’s no better metaphor we can think of for the creative team behind a beauty look. They pull the references, scour the archives, and paint the picture you see on the big screen. The celebrity, model, or actor is the single with the most airtime. But the glam team? They’re the producers, conductors, friends, and family members. For lack of a less ubiquitous phrase, they make it work.

It has always been our mission to shine a light on the BTS of beauty, as the artistry of hair and makeup is an intricate, detailed exploration that lies at the cross section of aesthetics and culture. Why? Because the origin of a look is just as important as the look itself. The backstory deserves its hard-earned glory.

This time around, we’re introducing you to Sharif Poston and Rebekah Aladdin, the masterminds behind the hair and makeup looks for Byrdie’s ninth issue—The Balance Issue—featuring Thuso Mbedu. Below, join us in taking a peek behind the curtain, as their words are creative and empowering in equal measure.

Makeup Artist Rebekah Aladdin

On the inspiration for the beauty looks…

“Throughout the shoot, we showcased Thuso’s beautiful, glowing, melanated skin. Each look highlighted a single feature. The first look was graphic eyeliner; we wanted to create a fun, edgy look while still giving a minimalist and clean vibe. Look two featured frosted lipstick. It’s a nod to ’90s nostalgia, especially paired with bone-straight hair. Metallics and frosty colors are a cool and interesting way to play with light. The third and final look was centered around a faux bleached brow. I paired it with a softly contoured halo eye for an editorial flare.”

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On working with Thuso…

“Working with Thuso over the past two years has been so enjoyable. There’s a flow and ease to our glam sessions. She trusts me, and as an artist, that means everything! Thuso is tiny and shy, but she’s a giant in her craft. I have a lot of respect for her work ethic and drive. She’s going to leave her mark on this industry, and I’m honored to share this journey with her.”

On her early years and starting her career in beauty…

“I am from Pasadena, California. My growth in the industry had a flow. Although it felt like a slow climb, I had a lot of connections as an L.A. native that helped my progress. I paid my dues by collaborating with peers who were also working toward their come up. Relationships built on top of one another brought me where I am today.

“Actually, I started my career in beauty to fund my dreams of being an R&B recording artist. I was a senior at UCLA and making plans for a professional career in architecture when my dad suddenly passed away. In my grief, I found the courage to pursue my first love, music. My master plan was to become a celebrity makeup artist and barber as a ‘side hustle’ to financially support myself while recording music. I was derailed by a vocal injury, and makeup took over. I now find myself in the middle of a thriving freelance makeup career. It has been far more rewarding than I ever imagined. My favorite part is that I get to support other artists in pursuit of their dreams and share their special milestones.”

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On her career highlights…

“A career highlight was meeting and working with Anita Baker on the night she received her BET Lifetime Achievement Award. I grew up listening to Ms. Anita! I never thought I would meet her—let alone share this special night with her. We had a lot of fun and even worked together a few more times later that year.

“Another special memory was working with the legendary Lynn Whitfield for a T: The New York Times Style Magazine shoot, featuring a group photo with Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, and Kimberly Elise. Aside from sharing the room with these iconic queens, it was an honor to share this space with other top makeup artists and hairstylists in the industry. The energy in the room was so majestic and surreal as we all came together to honor the legacies of these brilliant, ground-breaking women. Truly iconic.”

On what beauty means to her and how it’s empowered her throughout her life…

“Beauty is a feeling. It’s confidence. It’s acceptance. It’s enjoyment. We use makeup as a tool to achieve and express these feelings. I find empowerment in being able to positively influence how people feel about themselves.”

On her beauty icons…

“My beauty icons are the It girls of the ’90s: Janet Jackson, Toni Braxton, Aaliyah, Naomi Campbell, and Halle Berry.”

On her advice to aspiring artists in the industry…

“Be kind, professional, and fair. A great reputation is your best friend in this industry. Everyone loves to work with people they enjoy, and referrals run this business.”

Hairstylist Sharif Poston

On the inspiration for the beauty looks…

“For the first look, we wanted to keep the natural beauty of Thuso’s hair. I’m always a fan of keeping things simple. I conditioned her hair very well and proceeded to style it in a soft twisted style with a side part for a little edge. I also trimmed any loose ends for a clean finish. Although Thuso loves her natural hair, she’s also a fan of trying new things. For the second look, I decided to style her with long, sleek tresses—26 inches—to give her what I call the ‘Naomi Campbell’. For the third look, we used a pair of rhinestone leggings from wardrobe and dressed it over her head. Creativity has no rules; just create what makes you feel good.”

On working with Thuso…

“It’s fun and peaceful. She trusts me to make her look good, which I love and respect. She pushes me to have fun and be as creative as possible. She’s shy but so funny at the same time. It’s so important to me for my clients to feel safe to be themselves around me. She allows me to be me. It’s been a blessing building this relationship with her.”

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On starting his career in beauty…

“I grew up in Philly. I always have love for my city. It taught me about hustle, street smarts, and people skills. That is so important in this industry. I believe I’ve always had an eye for creation and beauty. Ever since I was a kid, I would watch my mother go to the beauty salon, and she would come home looking and feeling good. Seeing her smile meant the world to me; it made me feel good. So I would be like, ‘Mom, can I play with your hair?’ I wanted to be a part of the experience of making her feel good. Fast-forward to my teen years I started experimenting with my friends, and the rest is history.

“The early years in my career were so humbling and a lot of hard work—assisting, training, and classes. I did a lot of free work at times to get the experience. I moved to New York when I was 19. I would do fashion week, which was fast-paced and chaotic, and it helped me hone my skills. I worked in high-end salons for about seven years doing styling, cutting, and coloring. It was a challenge finding my place in the Big City. But you have to put yourself out there and make yourself available for those experiences and networking. I’ve built many genuine relationships from when I first started with my beauty peers who’ve become my friends.”

On his career highlights…

“I never thought I would be blessed with a career like this. I didn’t know where hair would take me. I have so many highlights! Early in my career, I got a call to assist Vernon François for the cover of Essence—the cover star was Iman, which is iconic—and I was flabbergasted. Later in my career, I was asked to style Taraji P. Henson’s hair, and it went viral. And, of course, when I was introduced to Thuso, we’ve done so many great things together, including covers, red carpets, and press tours. I am grateful and absolutely blessed beyond words.

“Another memory that stands out is when I creative directed my first solo project, a photo shoot, with Thuso in honor of her character, Nawi, in The Woman King. I gathered a team of talented creatives (who are also industry friends) to make this photo shoot come to life. It was a day of beautiful vibes and magic. I felt so proud. A room of Black and Brown creatives, creating! The photos were stunning!”

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On what beauty means to him and how it’s empowered him throughout his life…

“To me, beauty is personality. Beauty is how you love yourself. It’s that thing that makes an individual unique in this life. As a person with insecurities like everyone else, I find beauty in self-care and a healthy lifestyle. When you feel good on the inside, it shines through, and that good energy is transferable to the people around you. That’s beauty.”

On his beauty icons and mentors in the business…

“Some of my beauty mentors are Vernon François, Ray Christopher, Tym Wallace, Larry Sims, Edward Morrison, Kendall Dorsey, and—of course—my beauty school teacher, Mrs. Gaye. These amazing people became my inspiration on a personal, creative, and professional level. Each one taught me the importance of taking my time, learning all I can, being true to myself, staying consistent, and the importance of community. I didn’t get where I am in my career by myself. I’m also inspired by new artists like Coree Moreno, Alexander Armand, Mitchell Cantrell, and Fesa Nu.”

On his advice to aspiring artists in the industry…

“My advice is to hone your craft. You never stop learning in this business. Find mentors who are willing to teach you, and be open to receiving knowledge. Be consistent and never think you know it all. Be flexible and available when possible. Creativity has no rules. Do what makes you feel good. Let people know who you are and make time for yourself. This industry can be very demanding.”

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