I had never met Chynee Kay before our interview, but I knew of her from Athea's fashion show events.
I always wanted to meet her... She was like the Wizard of Oz behind the scenes adding on to the magic of the shows she was putting on.
But I must say, I did not regret this interview.
We continued our conversation after the interview for another 2 hours and honestly, she is one of the smartest people I met.
Very well read and with a wealth of knowledge that could be beneficial to this world.
But you all get a taste of it through our conversation. Enjoy this week's Women Crushing It Wednesday... Chynee Kay!
All right. First, you're a makeup artist who also has a moniker. Your name is Janny Evans. But you go by Muck by Chynee Kay. What made you choose that?
I was actually given that name from 2008 (laughter).
My family and I stayed in Jamaica for almost 6 months. And my cousins have always joked around with me saying that my eyes were so chinky so they decided to call me Chynee. And my first name actually starts with a K. So that started Chynee Kay. I said that it would not stick. And then it stuck. And ever since then, my family and friends call me that. But my friends get it from my family. That's the joke. No one knew that I had this nickname when I came back home. And all of a sudden, because my family started calling me Chynee Kay or C.K., my friends started calling me that.
That's funny. So yeah, it has nothing to do with makeup.
Not one thing. So I just randomly was playing on words and stuff. So the MUCK part is actually an abbreviation, so it's like Make Up by Chinee Kay. You know, trying to figure out an actual name. Here you go.
That's well done. That's really well done. I mean, the creative side is also needed in your profession. And I find also, with regards to your profession, that you're more than likely unseen. How did you figure out a way to be seen?
I don't like to be seen. Is that bad? (laughter)
I'm not saying you personally, but for the business.
Me personally, no. For business, I go out of my way to network with other people whenever I'm doing shows, or I'm in spaces that are creative, like museums, art shows, things like that. I’ll network those ways. But other than that, you barely see me on my actual business page. If I'm working behind the stage, please don't talk to me. I'm very shy. Like, if it's in a new environment, I have to work my way up to get there. I can't just be spontaneous to make friends. It's like a hit or miss. In my profession, you have to be like that. But...
How does that translate with relationships?
Um, it's really hard when I have relationships. It could be a romantic relationship or relationship with friends. I'm very keen on holding my true self to myself versus like, if I know somebody that I'll be like very open and very casual with them and very loving. I know the type of person that I am. I am a very genuine and very loving and very huggy and all that jazz. It's hard for me when it's just strangers or like people I don't know. I'm very quiet and in tune with myself. I'm very observant at the same time. So they see things. But I'm just very shy. Very, very, very shy.
(laughter) So this interview must be...
Yes, outside of my comfort zone and outside my box.
So here's a funny question for you then. Every superhero has an origin story. What is yours?
Origin story? It's weird, because I know a lot of people that grew up in the hood or grew up in areas that were like that. I was a suburban kid. Always a suburban kid before Mississauga became a city or before Brampton became a city. I lived in both those areas, and both those areas were considered suburban, until more people came in. And I hung out with a lot of different ethnicities, different cultures. Growing up, my best friend was Korean. And I had another person who was Japanese. Those were my best friends and obviously, they moved away and we were little whatever. So then, just gradually, getting up to adulthood, I just kept to myself and really just took the time to understand me and understand my surroundings. I went to Applewood, and then I transferred from Applewood to Kennedy. I didn't like my school at all.
Not too far from Charlie’s, right?
That was the spot every day (laughter).
Um, but yeah, like, when I moved from Applewood to TL Kennedy, it was a big culture shock to me, because they didn't really act the way they did at Applewood. I experienced a lot of racist comments and had a lot of racist teachers. So I've experienced that side of what it is to be a black girl. And then I went to TL Kennedy, and it wasn't like that. I felt comfortable. And all a lot of people were saying how TL Kennedy was so bad. And it really was not. And from there, I really took the time to figure out what I wanted to do. I started doing makeup in the middle of high school. And I didn't really think of doing it as a profession. I wanted to go to school for fashion. So I ended up doing Fashion Design, Fashion Techniques at George Brown College. And the one thing I didn't like about the whole industry, when it comes to fashion is that it's too fast. People don't get to enjoy their work. They don't get to enjoy the process of it. They don't get to enjoy, like, why they love what they do. So maybe that was not for me. And then also, fashion is such a really small industry in Toronto. And if I really wanted to make it do something big, I would have to figure out a way to integrate in fashion areas like New York, Milan. I didn’t have money to integrate myself into that. So during this time when I went to college, my dad passed away. So I was on and off going to school, which is why it took me a very long time to actually finish school. I had to pay therapy fees, because I had to put myself to therapy. I was on a roller coaster, and I was just not myself constantly being angry, going through the process of grieving. And it was really bad because my dad passed away, at the beginning of me actually going to college. So I put myself in therapy for five years, paying for therapy for five years. And before that my mom was going through cancer while I was in high school. So the thought of that kind of scared me because she had breast cancer twice. And they were saying that she didn't have a high percentage of living. And it just hit me that literally, I could have no parents. And both my parents are like, my solid ground. They're the people that I go to when I'm feeling overwhelmed.
They’re your support system.
Yeah, they're my support system. My dad was my support system, not only for me, but for my mom as well. My mom was dealing with all that too. So I couldn't really rely on my mom that much at this point. By the time I hit my 3rd year of college, I had to pay for college after that, for the last two years of my college experience. So I was paying for therapy and paying for college. And living on my own for 3 years. And I was paying for everything on my own, by myself. And as I was, in and out of college, I was hooking up with Athea, she would encourage me to pursue my makeup artistry. And talking to my therapist, he would tell me to find creative outlets to focus my anger and grieving. So, I ended up doing that, doing a lot more of designing with Athea and designing most of the stuff from the shoot, and then doing a lot of the makeup stuff for her shows. I don't know if anybody knows. She is the one who has At My City. So I ended up having friends in college who invited me to do makeup for their shows. So it kind of started from there. And then getting out of college, I said fashion was not for me. And with makeup, I felt like I was not being rushed to do it. I'm enjoying it. I love what I do. I love the process of it. And I love being creative about it. Like I just don't only try to do pretty stuff. I like the special effects aspects of it. I love watching commercials and TV shows and how they do things. I'm kind of like that person that will watch Game of Thrones and watch behind the stage. See how everything works out. I did that with a lot of other shows. I used to do that with The Walking Dead a lot. So I got into that even more and then added doing nails and doing more things like hair and I guess the main thing now more of my friends would come to me. People would randomly just search me up. I had to learn how to be open. From there, just been gradually growing from there.
So I know you mentioned working with Athea & At My City. What was the biggest gig you got? Besides Athea's.
Okay. Um, it was for a show for my friend. She had a show coming up. This was back in 2013 or 14 one of them. She asked me to do all the models. She had at least 21 models. I asked one of my other friends who wanted to come in and see backstage. She helped me clean brushes and made sure everything was sanitized. That actually was a learning experience. I had to figure out timing and what works best in shows and what would work best with models. And what inspiration and what colors would go on different skin tones. I had to learn really quickly on the spot at the show. And there were males too. By the time that show was done, I went home. So from there, I kind of had to brace myself at the same time too. Because that was very overwhelming. That was the first show I've ever done by myself. Had to do all these all these female and males. That was my first first show.
What are misconceptions about you or your profession?
Um, a lot of people think that makeup can be done in like 20 minutes. A lot of people don't think that skincare works well with makeup. Skincare is your first step before you put your makeup on. So it takes time. I need like at least 45 to an hour in order to make you look good.
What is the misconception about you?
I've gotten people telling me that at first glance I look like a bitch. Am I allowed to say that?
Yeah, you’re allowed to.
I've gotten people who first meet me they think I’m aggressive. I'm not aggressive. Like, I don't mean to be aggressive. I'm just in the moment and my head’s constantly thinking. So if I offend you, I'm sorry, I don't mean to offend you. And I noticed people when they stop and I end up apologizing. So I always pick myself up and make sure that I know my surroundings and who I'm talking to. And I always make sure that I'm looking at somebody's face when I say something. I will say something, and then I'll look up to see their face. A lot of people think I'm mean, but I'm not. I’m very gullible. When somebody says something to me, I actually believe them. Because my household was very truthful, it just stuck to me, especially my dad. He was very honest. When he spoke, he was truthful to himself. Truthful to the people around him. And truthful to his own essence. So like, I just grew up like that.
If anybody speaks, and they tell you something about themselves, what reason do you have to think that they’re lying? Unless I’m gullible too.
On top of that, I'm very loving. It's really hard for me not to hug people or make sure that they're okay. Growing up, my dad, my mom, and myself used to take in people if they needed help. My house was like that. I just grew up like that. Especially in high school.
Nice. That's nice. That's nice. I'm guessing you have somewhat of a big family here. Right?
Yeah. Well, I have most of my dad's family here and most of my mom's family is back home.
With regards to your business and the expectations that your family may have with regards to your business, do you find that you get a lot of requests from them or that they ask for family discounts? And how do you manage those if you do?
I will give you the sale that's currently happening, but I will not discount my prices. I don't see the reason why I should discount myself because you would go to somebody else and pay the same price. Right? I put so many hours and so many years into my craft, that I know what I'm doing and I do it very well. So if you want quality, you're going to have to pay quality prices. So I don't discount it. I don't tell them no, I'm not doing that. If you have business you're gonna see but i'm i'm not the one.
What is the legacy you want to leave?
My legacy... I want people to see that they can be imperfectly perfect. A lot of people think that being beautiful, or building up to society's beauty standards is the way to go. But you can still be beautiful in your own way. I want people to understand that your beauty is not just what's on the outside, but also what's on the inside. I can help you, with your confidence, not just what everyone else thinks of you. You need to first think about what's beautiful for yourself. So I feel like that's one of the things that I want people to understand. I want my legacy to be that. I just want people to feel beautiful, because we're not taking all these materialistic things with us when we pass away. I understand that you want to set yourself up for your children and their children and their children. But you have to make sure that you're also helping people and loving people and making them feel worthy while they're here. I'm a big firm believer of faith and God so I would want to continue doing that, the way God sees His children in his eyes. I'd rather do that.
It’s interesting. I remember you mentioning how you never want to be seen in the forefront. Let's do a hypothetical. You’ve seen celebs like Black Chyna and Meg Thee Stallion beefing with their makeup artists online. Let’s imagine that one of those polarizing figures who is in the limelight wanting to work with you personally. Is there any scenario where you would say no to working with someone like that?
I mean, I wouldn’t say no. I would give them a contract that says that they’re not filming me. I will do your makeup. But I'm not for beef and I’m not for the hype. I'm sorry. I like to live my life low key. I like to make sure that my family are safe around me. I don't see the point of doing all that. I think that's the difference between me and those types of people.
Eventually, you would want to work with a celebrity as their personal makeup artist.
I wouldn't mind being somebody's personal makeup artist. It's just the fact that I still don’t want to be in the limelight. That's all.
Alright. Let's see. Let's do another hypothetical. Let's say you meet a young 18 year old Chynee Kay. What advice do you give her?
Girl, do it! Just do it. Start from why you want to do it. Really know why you want to do it. If you don't enjoy what you love to do, then it's not for you. I feel like a lot of us tend to go into something that we don't enjoy. And it does nothing for our soul. I would want them to make sure they enjoy what they do. Love what they do. Start from there and then figure out the kinks about it. But you have to make sure that you're humbled to yourself. You can't let other people allow you to get out of your character. The more you're humbled, the more you will get the recognition that you are deserving of.