Rubin and Williamson
Photo courtesy of Celena Rubin

In 2013, make-up artist Celena Rubin fought state laws regarding the industry and won. In the state of Oregon, make-up artists were required to have an esthetic or cosmetology license in order to work. Seeing this as an unnecessary barrier, Rubin contacted her representatives and senators to make a change. Legislation for SB836, which exempts hair and make-up artists working in film, television or theater production from unnecessary and unrelated licensing requirements, was drafted and submitted, and passed unanimously in the house and senate (See article in Issue #103).

Two years later, Rubin realized there was more work to be done regarding state law. According to Rubin, make-up artists and hairstylists were expected to apply a temporary hairstyle on models and actors, and were still required to have a cosmetology license to do this. She partnered with Representative Jennifer Williamson (D—Portland) for the second time to draft and introduce Senate Bill 699, which allows temporary hairstyling without a cosmetology license. The bill passed the house and senate on July 3, 2015 and went into effect immediately.

Below we talk with Rubin about her recent success and advice to others hoping to create change.

How will SB699 help make-up artists in the state of Oregon? Will it benefit the local film industry?
SB699 will absolutely benefit local make-up artists and the film and advertising industries in Oregon. [Even after SB836] something was still missing. Make-up artists and hairstylists are expected to do hairstyling on professional photo shoots, stage productions and non-union film and video productions in Oregon, which there are many. We still couldn’t do our job without a cosmetology license. Without creating another exemption, SB699, we still weren’t allowed to do our job without a cosmetology license, which almost made SB836 useless. Once again, it was made into another emergency bill and with the support of the cosmetology board, another bill was passed!

How big of a role did you have in drafting the legislation? What was that process like?
With SB699, all of my communication was with Madeleine Dardeau, Representative Jennifer Williamson’s assistant who was handling this bill. We first met in person to discuss what we needed to accomplish with this new bill, and then there were quite a few emails back and forth between Madeleine, make-up artist Terri Lodge and I, discussing the wording of it. It was a collaboration between the cosmetology board as well. Once the hearings began, the cosmetology board jumped in and expressed their concerns. At that point, we then adjusted the bill in order to make everyone happy. Just when we thought things were smooth sailing, the House Chair, a former salon owner, pitched in his concerns, and another adjustment was made that he felt was important. At last, everyone was happy and we were able to pass the bill.

Do you have any tips for others hoping to pass legislation?
Sure! The first thing you would do is find out what legislature you are a constituent for, set up a meeting and present your case with conviction including what problems it is causing, what can go wrong if the law isn’t changed and what makes it urgent to take action. You may need to get others to sign a petition of support or write letters of support to prove your point. The more support you receive from your community the better.

What drives your passion for pursuing these kinds of changes?
When I moved to Oregon from Los Angeles, because of the booming production industry, I assumed Portland would be a place I could continue my make-up artistry profession, a place my family would thrive in. When I found out I could not legally work in Oregon I was shocked. It was simply a matter of survival. It seemed logical that Oregon was ready and needed a change to support the film and advertising community, and since I was the one who stumbled upon this outdated law, I ended up being the one to initiate change. I never imagined I would be involved in changing laws, but when something is not right, I’m not one to sit back and accept it. I look for a way to fix it.

Do you foresee pursuing more legislative changes in the future?
The battle isn’t over for me. My dream was to open a make-up school in Oregon. Because of these outdated laws, the Oregon Department of Education told me that there were too many restrictions for make-up artistry in Oregon to open a make-up school. I was told my only option was to have a cosmetology school or teach continuing education to licensed cosmetologists to have a licensed career school in Oregon. That is not what I want to do! Although cosmetology is a much needed profession, cosmetology skills are not what I know or teach at my school for make-up artistry. I opened Art of Makeup in Washington, a state with no restrictions on make-up artistry, but I want to be in Portland. Now that these restrictions have been removed, my goal is to move my school to Oregon. I live in Oregon and I want to enrich my local film and advertising community with a local make-up artistry school in Oregon. That was the goal from the beginning, and I still plan to make that happen. I am hoping not to have to change any more laws, but if needed to achieve my goal, you will find me back at the Capitol!