Day 185 - Justin (4th person I approached)
July 04, 2014 - Justin was sitting alone, reading something on his smartphone when I approached him. I started to tell him what I was doing when he told me that he had heard about The Stranger Project 2014 on the news. He said he’d be happy to chat, and with that, he put his phone in his pocket.
Justin was born in New Westminster, British Columbia (BC) at Royal Columbian Hospital and grew up in Maple Ridge, BC.
“My father got married and divorced before meeting my mother and then having me. I have a half brother and a half sister. They are 14 and 12 years older than me, so we didn’t really grow-up living together. I’m the only child that my parents had together,” he said. As a child Justin was diagnosed as being dyslexic.
“I was having problems reading and with my speech. I became uncomfortable and depressed. My parents put me into a private school where the teachers could spend more time with me and provide more structure to my learning. I went to a private school in Grade six and then I did Grade seven twice. I really believe that if I hadn’t gone to the private school and been able to build on my confidence I would have been in a much darker place. Repeating Grade seven helped a lot as well. I learned to manage the stress and build on my confidence, which enabled me to go to a regular high school, and go on to graduate,” said Justin. I thanked Justin for his willingness to share this part of his journey with me. His phone rang and Justin excused himself to take the call. Afterwards he told me,
“That was my wife. I’m waiting here to meet her. She’s in a wedding party tomorrow and I’m helping her get some errands done. She just asked me to go to and pick up a couple of things for her and then come back here to meet her,” he said. So Justin and I walked a couple of blocks together while he helped out his wife. It allowed us to continue chatting.
When he was 14, Justin knew someone who was working for the television series ‘The X Files’ which was, at that time, filmed in Vancouver.
“My friend asked me if I wanted to spend the day hanging around with him on set. I had the chance to meet Toby Lindala, the makeup artist who did the special effects makeup for the show. I knew then that I wanted to be a makeup artist,” said Justin.
“I was in the First Aid Cadets and I would help out with making injuries look realistic for our training sessions. I thought the whole blood and gore aspect of special effects makeup would be what I wanted to do. I was into art, drawing and painting. I started to do sculpture as another way to further my skills with makeup,” he said.
After graduating high school, Justin worked for a couple of years.
“I did a few different jobs. I was able to save enough money that when I went to makeup school, I paid for the ten-month course in full, the week before it started. My parents had told me that they wouldn’t be able to pay for all of my schooling. At the age of twelve I got my first job, a paper delivery route. As soon as I started working, my parents encouraged me to put ten percent of what ever I made in the bank towards my education. I started by putting $2 a week in the bank, and throughout the years to come, I always saved ten percent of whatever I made. It was a great lesson to learn to be responsible with money. I also gave my mother another ten percent and she put that in an account for me as well, in case I spent the money I was saving myself. Teaching me about money was a real gift from my parents,” said Justin.
After finishing his makeup course, Justin thought he’d go directly into film and television.
“It didn’t quite work out that way though. I had bills and rent to pay and it takes time to get working in the industry. So I started working in retail. Doing jobs related to makeup. It worked out well because I’d do make up in department stores and I started to make connections through that. Someone would like the makeup I did, and they’d tell somebody they knew who would then get me to do makeup for a music video, and it grew from there,” he said.
“It was a good experience because in school, I was focusing on special effects makeup. In the retail side, I was doing beauty makeup on at least five faces a day, five days a week. It really helped with my ability to talk to all kinds of different people and work with various skin types and age ranges. I did makeup for people from as young as seven years old, up to people in their seventies. It was good experience and made me a better makeup artist.” Justin now works for that same makeup school where he took his first courses.
We got back to the location where Justin was to meet his wife. Sure enough, timing worked out perfectly and she was there right on cue. Justin introduced me to his wife. I explained what we were doing to Justin’s wife, Amelia and we stood and chatted for a bit. They’ve been married for ten years and have a cat and a dog or “fur babies” as Justin said, smiling. Amelia told me all the various things she had been doing and still had to do as a bridesmaid for the wedding taking place tomorrow. Justin was a big part of Amelia getting done what she needed to do.
“I’m lucky to have him,” said Amelia.
“We eloped. It was so much easier!” #notastranger