WOW Presents Plus has crafted a slate of brilliant and original programming, and among them, "Painted With Raven" is a brilliantly hued competition show, just kicking off its second season (streaming now).
Hosted by the Emmy-winning makeup artist extraordinaire Raven, the series showcases makeup artists put through a battery of challenges that put the best of their skills front and center, judged by Raven and special guest judges. I sat down to chat with Raven about Season 2 of the show, her own career evolution, and the changes we can expect to see this year on the show.
Michael Cook: Can you believe that a show like "Painted With Raven" which was born during a global pandemic that showcased makeup artists all over the nation has truly become a sensation, with Season 2 just premiering Nov. 17?
Raven: I can’t, but I am so happy that it did. When I was told the idea for this and we talked about it in its infancy, I didn’t think it would work. Then I am sitting there looking at the executive prodders and the people who have created the best and some of my favorite shows, and I said, “Okay I trust you let's do this.” And here we are, Season 2
MC: What did you want to make different for Season 2 of "Painted With Raven"?
R: I always want to make sure we have a cast that is going to succeed. We want to make sure it is not going to be sacrificial lambs; the ones that are not good and some that are going to do great. When we are going through the casting, we are constantly going “I like this one more, I like this one” … You never want to set anyone up for failure and when it comes to this, you want to have to really go “no this one is the best”! That was the same with Season 1, and now each one of these contestants you can tell is really hungry for the win. They are not just looking to get a little further, they really wanna win. There should always be a fire, you should always go into a competition and want to win, that’s why you’re there. It’s great to have these eight contestants just as hungry as the first one, this year we did add one more.
MC: Have you ever looked at a contestant on "Painted With Raven" and seen a great deal of yourself in them and had them remind you of the way you once competed?
R: In a couple of them yes. I remember even thinking, “Get out of your head, be focused on yourself, and focus on what you do.” Because the second you do that, that is when you start to actually do better. When I had been in competing situations, I was always focusing on what everyone else was doing instead of asking “What do I wanna do” and then worrying about everyone else. There are times that I see that little bit of cattiness come out that we all have and then it gets dialed back.
MC: You are seeing the number of innovations that have come out through the beauty industry and you’re watching the contestants virtually make magic on "Painted With Raven" Season 2. When did you personally know that makeup would be much more than just a hobby?
R: You know, it’s weird because when I was in high school, I remember my friend Heather Olsen, and we’re still friends. I remember playing with her makeup and she had a cheap little pencil bag. I remember playing with her makeup and I remember taking her lipstick to do her blush, and doing things and saying, “I think I have a knack for this, I think this is what I wanna do.” I would always go back to that, even in my daily job in retail. I knew I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to do makeup, and I wanted to do something artistic and something where I am actually using what is going on in my head and putting it to use, it was always makeup. That is why I started doing drag. Twenty years ago is when started drag, and in the 80s and 90s, for a guy to put on makeup you had to be one of a few things like a rock star; you didn’t really do that. I always found a reason to try to put it on. I finally said, screw this I’m just gonna get in drag, why not? Then to see what the beauty industry has become because of the popularity of Drag Race … You go to these stores and the number of beauty products there are is unbelievable.
MC: It is interesting to watch your trajectory, and seeing you host "Painted With Raven" truly is your sweet spot in front of the camera. What has it been like sitting on the panel recently on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and visiting other franchises and their workrooms? You have become a den mother of sorts for the girls.
R: I wanted to be able to do anything I can and do more, it’s like, “I’m here let's do this.” I always get nervous, what if I say something that is off-putting or my idea doesn’t come off the way that I am trying to explain it? Then, you don’t want to give someone bad advice … "Oh my God that was awful, you shouldn’t have listened to that!” I love RuPaul and I love "RuPaul’s Drag Race," any time that they say, “Hey we want you to do this,” I’ll say, “I’ll be there. I’Il do it.” Even if it means not taking a break or getting a moment to pump the breaks, the time will come when you will be able to say, “I’m gonna sit down for a minute.” Take every opportunity as they come; I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
MC: On this season of "Painted With Raven," there was a little bit of drama. Did it come as a surprise to you?
R: It was kind of like, These are artists on a Zoom, how did this happen? As much as you try to avoid it or pretend that it s not there, there is always drama there is always something. There are always going to be those little things, whether it’s the voices in your head or the detractors that are going to cause a little rift in your life. I wasn’t that surprised, but watching it I was like “Oh my god I had no idea!” I had the opportunity to meet four contestants from Season 1 and they are just lovely, absolutely lovely, and I would like to meet the rest. I have met one from Season 2. You are with your tribe, you are with people who speak makeup, who love decorating, and you are going to have a rapport with them which is great.
MC: Who in your career, has given you the best advice of your career so far?
R: You know, it actually comes from RuPaul. When we were filming the very first season of Drag U, it was while Season 2 was airing. Social media was in its infant state, and I remember reading a couple of unsavory things about me. I remember showing up to set one day and Ru could see that I was physically just touched, he pulled me aside and I told him. He said, “Do not read anything online about you. Those are thing things people want to take, look at and click on”. This is also before I knew what clickbait was. He said “you know who you are, the people who you love and who you around know who you are. Every time read a million great things about yourself, you will read one that will break you and tear you apart; do not read them.” So I stopped doing that and it helped keep me in a state of mind thinking that I live in this beautiful rose-colored world, even though I know that it’s not true. You end up staying focused on the thing that matter, focused on the things that you should be doing. Being on Drag Race is a gift, and for a drag queen, it is the pinnacle. A lot of people start doing drag just to get on Drag Race now. When you leave Drag Race, you have the opportunity to go out and make things work for you. It’s not RuPaul’s responsibility, it’s not World of Wonder’s responsibility, it’s yours; I seized every moment, I showed up to everything that I could, I was on time, I did what I was supposed to do and moved on to the next. I always saw that I wanted to do more. Even though I didn’t win twice (laughs), I’ve landed in a place where I should be and I am happy with it.
"Painted With Raven" Season 2 is now streaming on WOW Presents Plus.