Shu Zhang is first ever Chinese makeup artist to work on NBA players

Shu NBA
Shu Zhang with DeAndre Jordan

As a makeup artist, Shu Zhang has done it all. Her time both working and volunteering around the globe doing what she does has earned her a reputation as one of the best, and that is why she works with the best. From doing the makeup for actresses attending the Academy Awards, to perfecting the image of some of the world’s best athletes, Shu has had international success.

While working with the Chinese media company Tencent, Shu had the chance to work with not only her idols, but those of her native country. The NBA has been loved and followed by generations of fans in China, and Shu was the first ever Chinese makeup artist to do the makeup for their players. Tencent had recently began the NBA network exclusive copyright for 5 years. The Tencent NBA official Propaganda “Not Just Competition” in the Chinese market turned out successfully, so Shu thought to herself “I would like to volunteer to be involved in this.”

“Being the first Chinese makeup artist to do makeup on NBA players is an honor that Shu deserves. She is great at time control and adaptable under pressure,” said Jackie C. Lin, who was working with the NBA Official Propaganda as a producer at the time.

While working on the ad campaign for the NBA, Shu had the opportunity to do the makeup for all-star players Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. The players, with Shu’s makeup, were featured in various shots shooting baskets, dunking, and standing still, to promote the NBA.

“I feel easygoing and confident while doing makeup for celebrities, but male makeup could be tough. My application style is to guide the actor while coordinating the best makeup in a short time, before they lose patience and get less of a chance to bothered by the makeup,” Shu described.

Doing the makeup for each of the players was a very different technical experience for Shu. Chris Paul had a more sensitive skin type. To overcome any issue that would come up from this, Shu prepared medical level cosmetics and used a cotton pad. She applied a layer of anti-sensitive isolation cream before doing his makeup, and then evened out his skin tone safely and easily.

“Everything I put on the players had to be extra safe makeup, because on sport players, you have to prevent from any allergies or any other interferences that can impact their upcoming NBA game,” she said.

While working on Blake Griffin, whose skin was slightly drier, Shu knew to apply lots of toner before starting his makeup process. She then applied skin care products to hydrate, and gave him a more matte looking appearance with his wheat skin tone. She shaped his face using darker foundation, and then used light translucent powder to finish it.

While doing DeAndre Jordan, she felt extremely at ease despite his reputation as one of the best basketball players out there. She has lots of experience doing makeup for darker skin colors, which gave her the confidence to smoothly finish his makeup.

“They are not only amazing sport players but also have extremely professional work ethic,” said Shu. “DeAndre Jordan has an energetic and humorous personality, making him very easy to work with. For one shot, the production only had three chances to shoot his movement of a dunk, and aim to shoot and find facial expressions. This was a big challenge that Jordan seemed to do flawlessly, by being professional but also acting before the camera to achieve advertisement effects.”

As a makeup artist, she had to constantly work between shots to ensure the player’s real sweat did not ruin their makeup, and the fake sweat stayed on their face. There was also a time crunch on the shoot, as they were doing it in the LA Clippers Training Center. This was no problem for the makeup artist, as working with time constraints was nothing new to her.

“I kept a high efficiency in my work, doing everything I could to save time. Already being skilled in high speed makeup application, it helped me solve the problem of lacking time,” said Shu.

Her speed and talent thoroughly impressed all those she worked with, including Lin Wang, who was working with Shu on the NBA Official Propaganda shoot was the head of the art department.

“Shu is sufficient while working in high speed and still producing quality makeup application. She has an awareness for detailing, and knew to use highly safe makeup cosmetics on the professional athletes for this shoot, which is important to protect them from getting any skin irritations that could impact their game,” said Wang.

Shu’s bilingual background and flexible working style was invaluable to the process of working with both the NBA and Tencent. She values the diversified environment of working with both Western and Chinese teams. But it what truly made the experience was working with athletes, a new experience for her.

“NBA all-stars had been followed and loved by generations of Chinese fans, especially ones like Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin who are unreachable to them. I’m honored to be the first Chinese makeup artist for NBA players. It’s a great opportunity to get involved in,” she concluded.

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