By Hannah Yakobi
Paul Venoit is a man of many talents. An accomplished make-up artist and hairstylist, he is renowned in Canada and abroad for his incredible work in the beauty and fashion industries, with a focus on making women feel empowered.
Venoit has worked with many celebrities, including Claudia Schiffer, The Rolling Stones, Kate Moss and Duran Duran. He has worked and appeared on Look-A-Like, Fashion Wrap, Canada’s Next Top Model and The Rachael Ray Show. His incredible energy and knowledge have also taken him to many Red Carpet events where he provided commentary, including the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Grammys, Emmys and the Oscars.
Venoit supports various charities and describes his own style as “urban rock’n’roll.” In this exclusive, he tells FAJO Magazine about his latest projects.
HANNAH YAKOBI: You’ve been to many different and very high-profile events. Do you have a favourite?
PAUL VENOIT: I think that the Red Carpet at the Grammys was definitely one of the most exciting Red Carpets I have worked on. You have a lot of musicians there, a lot of people who are representing themselves in a very casual way, as opposed to the Oscars where everything is very formulated.
In terms of the most interesting career experiences, for me it is the shows where I can offer tips to viewers on air: for example, when I was on the Marilyn Denis Show and we kicked off the National Breast Cancer Awareness month. My goal was to empower two women on the show [who were breast cancer survivors] and make them look their personal best.
How does working abroad compare to working in Canada?
I’ve worked a lot in the U.S., with Rachel Ray for example, and also on the Red Carpets. The difference is that they have larger budgets. When I’m in the U.S., I also make more television appearances and work that side of my career. When I’m in Canada – I’m at home. I have enough people around in Canada who keep me on my toes, and that is what I miss when I’m working abroad. I like positive criticism, and when you are not around people you know, you often don’t get that. Everyone keeps saying, “that was great, that was great,” but I’m well-aware of the fact that nothing’s always great – there is always room for improvement.
Do you have any lucky charms that you take with you when you travel?
I’m not superstitious, so I don’t. But I have a hypnotherapist who I visit when I have a big project. For example, I was doing the Red Carpet at the Oscars two years ago – and I have to tell you, I’m great with faces but horrible with names. So I got hypnotized to tap into the spot in the Universe, where I had access to all of these names. (laughs) And believe it or not, I probably had about an 80 per cent success remembering people’s names. The power of hypnotherapy had definitely changed the situation for me in a very positive manner. Also, I didn’t really realize the magnitude of the opportunity until I was in a car in L.A., when my driver picked me up at the airport. So I didn’t realize the magnitude of the opportunity until I got hypnotized! (laughs)
You’ve met and worked with a lot of celebrities in your career. Who was the most intriguing one?
I really like Kate Walsh. A lot. Not only is she a beautiful person inside and out, but there are also many layers to her, from her acting to her charity work. I was doing both her hair and make-up when she was launching her new program, and she was wonderful.
And I loved meeting Cher. She is a friend of a friend, so I met her on a personal note. All of her movements are so much more discreet in real life. The first time she flicked her hair in front of me, I thought: “Oh my God, it’s Cher flicking her hair.” I’d put her up there at the top of the list.
When it comes to hairstyling or make-up, some people say that it’s a skill that you can learn, others say it’s a craft or a talent. What do you think?
I think there are some technical elements that are the foundation and that you should know. After you have that understanding, it’s all about personal style. When I work with celebrities, my objective is always to make them look their personal best. I love to make women feel sexy and empowered, and I think that is the dialogue that you have, and an exchange of energy when you are working with people.
Make-up and hair can really change the way a person looks and feels. Some of the “Before and After” pictures on your website, for example, really showcase that.
Definitely. I grew up with nine sisters, so I’ve seen how beauty and fashion affected their lives, and how a bad hair day could ruin it for everyone around them! (laughs) I think that one thing that make-up and beauty can give to people is confidence. That is why when I was on Canada’s Next Top Model, for example, we asked the participants: why are you here, why did you choose fashion? It was interesting, because for a lot of people it is a certain validation that they get when people acknowledge that they look great.
You are an accomplished beauty master and can work in many different streams. What do you like doing the most?
I’m always thinking about what’s going to come up next. I love to do hair and make-up, but apart from that my career has taken on many different avenues: whether it’s working for various companies in a spokesperson position, doing fashion commentating for the Red Carpets, doing hair and make-up on set, being on television or writing for The Huffington Post. It’s all so diversified that when someone asks me I always say: there are so many things that I love to do and I love the business of this business!