The B Side Get to Know Yara's Glam Team: MUA Emily Cheng and Hairstylist SherriAnn Cole The Revival Issue
Yara Shahidi in glam for Byrdie's Spring 2023 Revival Issue
the digital issue

Get to Know Yara's Glam Team: MUA Emily Cheng and Hairstylist SherriAnn Cole


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 Emily Cheng and SherriAnn Cole, the masterminds behind the hair and makeup looks for Byrdie’s 11th issue—The Revival Issue—featuring Yara Shahidi. Below, join us in taking a peek behind the curtain, as their words are creative and empowering in equal measure.

Hairstylist SherriAnn Cole

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On the inspiration for the hair looks…

“Oftentimes, my inspiration comes from the mood and wardrobe of a shoot. Yara’s first look was inspired by the structure of her Atelier Biser dress. The strong silhouette and soft feathers at the bottom inspired me to play into the structure of her hair as well. To complement it, I did a slightly asymmetrical bob, but I wanted to add interest around her eyes. I decided to create a block-edge bang with textured straight hair.

“The second look was inspired by a cartoon picture Yara sent to me. Definitely a first for us, and I love it! The hairstyle looks like Betty Boop with a mullet! From there, I created a wig using finger-wave shapes in front and added some longer wavy pieces in the back. The movement made for a special look.

“Yara is known for her braided looks, and the third look was an opportunity to incorporate her iconic textured braids.”

On working with Yara…

“In one word: A dream. She is an excellent, thoughtful partner and gives me the creative freedom and trust to create her looks. It enables my ideas to flow endlessly.”

On her early years and starting her career in beauty…

“The beauty industry found me 10 years ago. I found myself at a job where I was very unhappy, and my aha moment came from [focusing on what] brought me joy. For me, it’s all about making people feel beautiful. From there, I did some research and enrolled in beauty school. Once I started, I was definitely in my element.

“While I was still in beauty school, I was published in Vogue Italia four times. Once I graduated, I remember several people saying they expected to see me in Hollywood. At the time, I didn’t see it for myself as a single mother—but I live there now. With my mother’s encouragement, I practiced in my own space alongside [her] nail salon. My love for beauty began with my mother when I was 10 years old, so it was a full-circle moment. My grandmother, Sherry Ann Thomas, pursued a cosmetology license but passed from cancer soon after—we received her license posthumously. It was a surprise to my family, as she didn’t tell anyone. My mother believed it was Sherry’s goal for them to go into business together. I now use my grandmother’s name in my practice to honor her life.”

On her career highlights…

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“The fact that I have traveled the globe doing what I love with lovely people. Working in a Castle in France was also a very cool moment. Another is when I met Michelle Obama on the set of Black-ish. Major fangirl moment! It felt like meeting an auntie at a family reunion. She’s so gracious!”

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

“The term ‘beauty’ is synonymous with love to me. While I believe it all starts inside and emanates outward, sometimes the outward appearance can shift internal feelings. In that way, I am very grateful to carry the responsibility to help others discover and reconnect with the beauty within themselves. Beauty is all around us and ever-present; it just takes the desire to see it!”

On her beauty icons…

“Some of my beauty icons are Brandy, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt, Iman, and Solange. My mentors in the business are Felicia Leatherwood, Delane Sims, Diishan Imira, Elizabeth Cho, and Porshawna Mosely.”

On her advice to aspiring artists in the industry…

“We come into this industry because of our passion and love for what we do but don’t forsake or skip the details. Take the time to perfect your craft as best you can. Take the classes; work with the mentors; and then practice, practice again, and then practice some more. There’s always more to learn.” 

Makeup Artist Emily Cheng

On the inspiration for the makeup looks…

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“Yara and I have always loved playing with liners. We often send each other references of various ways to incorporate different shapes. For this shoot, we created three graphic looks that slightly varied from sharp to negative space to diffused with color. it’s interesting to see how even with the most minute difference in the angle or placement, it can completely change the eye.”

On working with Yara…

“Creative and collaborative! She loves makeup as much as I do, so it’s a lot of fun coming up with ideas together.”

On her early years and starting her career in beauty…

“I grew up in Vancouver and started at the Laura Mercier counter at a local department store called Holt Renfrew. It was a great start. I was able to work on so many faces and really practice my skills. To this day, most of my close friends are from my time there.

“I can’t recall a single aha moment, but a few years ago, my mom found a project I had made for school that said I wanted to be a hairstylist! I suppose I got pretty close to making little Emily’s dreams come true.”

On her career highlights…

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“Working alongside Peter Philips—someone I’ve always admired—on a Dior campaign [is a highlight]. And, of course, because [Yara] is one of my absolute favorite people and faces to paint. It was such a special day; it was a real dream come true. And all of the Met Galas!”

On her mentors in the business…

“Monika Blunder and Marla Belt are two people I assisted when I first moved here, and they are the kindest, most generous artists. I’m so fortunate to have had mentors like them.”

On her advice to aspiring artists in the industry…

“Work on as many faces as you can—all ages, skin tones, shapes, and sizes. Keep at it and don’t be afraid to reach out to people for opportunities.”

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