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Michelle Obama’s $15,000-a-day Make-Up Artist

Posted by FactReal on November 12, 2011

[Derrick] Rutledge is the man behind the look of some of the world’s most famous names. A leading makeup artist, he gets as much as $15,000 for a day’s work and boasts a coveted client list, including two of the nation’s most photographed faces, Michelle Obama and Oprah, as well as singers such as Patti LaBelle, Shirley Caesar and CeCe Winans. Just last month, his work was on the covers of Essence and AARP, which featured Obama, and O, which featured, obviously, Oprah.


In March 2009, Rutledge’s phone started ringing repeatedly, but he didn’t recognize the number and didn’t answer. When he finally did, the caller said it was one of Michelle Obama’s assistants and asked if he wanted to audition to be her makeup artist.

“I thought I was being punked,” he says. But Rutledge’s name had been floated to White House officials after Obama’s Chicago artist got tired of commuting to Washington.

Rutledge was summoned to the White House to prepare Obama for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. He chose two foundations, one to highlight and another to even her skin tone. And he focused on her eyes. “She has the most incredible eyes, and people notice them immediately,” he says.

Two years later, Rutledge is Obama’s main makeup artist. His schedule is as grueling as that of any White House official in top health. Most recently, he flew to South Africa with Winfrey in her private jet, then to Chicago, then to Los Angeles. When the White House summons, he flies back to Washington, even for a day or two, as he did to prepare the first lady recently for promotional videos and the Congressional Black Caucus dinner.

With the demands of Obama and Winfrey, he has been forced to cut back many of his former clients, including LaBelle.

One Response to “Michelle Obama’s $15,000-a-day Make-Up Artist”

  1. buck said

    She needs all the help she can get .

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