Imagine if an actor won an Oscar for best actress after her first movie. Or a Grammy for Record of the Year as a teen. That's essentially what former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Jessica Kalil did, with makeup.
Kalil had been doing makeup tutorial videos on her YouTube channel for six months when she was among thousands of video entries in the NYX Fine Artistry of Cosmetic Elites (FACE) Awards Show. She earned the coveted title of Beauty Vlogger of the Year, topping five other finalists. Kalil received $50,000 and a year's supply of NYX Professional Makeup.
"I know I'm late to the game, but I feel like I have something to add to the YouTube makeup community," Kalil says. "I want to share my personality and showcase my work, my ideas and what I truly love to do. To me, I've been doing this my whole life, I'm just now showing it."
She started at age 2 by borrowing her mom's makeup box. "I would come out of my room covered in makeup," she says, then put on a show for her family members. "I have always painted my face and not only glam makeup, but to be like a character or creature and act it out."
During her college years in New Mexico, Kalil was able to parlay her passion for makeup into doing kid's parties and Halloween face-painting. Upon graduation, she followed her performance instincts and headed to New York City, joining the New York Jets Flight Crew professional cheerleading team and performing as a dancer and aerialist for Norwegian Cruise Line.
While performing on an eight-month cruise, she watched two of her former Jets Flight Crew teammates on the CMT show Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, and "it sparked something in me," she says.
"When my contract was up, I decided that I wasn't going back to New York and bought a one-way ticket to Dallas. I tried out, made the team and never went back to New York City," Kalil says.
She was able to again combine her passion for performing and makeup and share tips and tricks with her teammates during two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
"For the Cowboys games, we are on our own for doing our makeup," Kalil said. "I'd bring my entire makeup suitcase into the locker room. I had this yellow powder and certain lip liners that a lot of the other girls would like to use because it would really help with not sweating during the games."
While Kalil was competing to win Beauty Vlogger of the Year, she was challenged to create a story, script and short film in 24 hours following the theme, "The Magic of Makeup." (See the final product below.)
She got the Hollywood treatment, including "a huge Hollywood production team" that included teammates who had worked on Beyonce's Lemonade and with the band Imagine Dragons. Production took place over a 12-hour period and included three makeup changes.
"This was what I had dreamed about since I was a little girl," Kalil says. "I have loved all of the experiences I've had in my life, but nothing has made me feel this fulfilled. I have two degrees, a master's degree, danced for the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, but that moment of being on set and the whole FACE Awards experience was the best I've ever had. It made me realize that this is what I want to do and I want to do it big-time."