Makeup looks easy, right? A little foundation here, a little liner there. Blend, brush, touch up, and off you go?
Not if you watch Sara Stoy do it—which you actually can do on YouTube. For the past three years, this 21-year-old Hamiltonian has run her own channel, MakeupBySaraStoy, which showcases two things above all else: Stoy’s camera-friendly countenance and the artistic skill that qualified her to make it to broadcast television.
That Stoy landed a spot on the second season of the reality competition show American Beauty Star is a lot less of a mystery if you watch even one of her YouTube tutorials. There are about three dozen video tutorials on her page, most highlighting what Stoy herself describes as easy, smokey, or sexy looks for a night out.
But she’ll throw you a few surprises. If you ever wanted to be a prettier-than-the-typical scarecrow or pumpkin for Halloween, for example, Stoy’s got you covered. And blended.
Her deft skills with brushes and makeup impressed the producers of Lifetime TV’s reality show enough to set her up in Atlanta for a few weeks this past summer. How she got there was a simple enough lesson to inspire anyone—she gave it a shot.
“I watched the first season,” Stoy said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I could so do this.’”
So she followed the show on Instagram, where the producers announced a casting call for Season 2. Stoy said she jumped at the chance to apply for a spot. The Steinert High School alumna didn’t figure they’d actually call her, but she didn’t question it when they did.
In some ways, Stoy said, getting onto the show seemed inevitable. For one thing, since she was a little girl, she felt she was headed for something big in life. Then there was her classmates’ assessment of her future.
“When I was in elementary school, I was voted most likely to be famous,” she said. “I’m bubbly and outgoing. People like that tend to make good TV.”
Starting on Jan. 2, you can see if she if her theory plays out. That’s when the second season of American Beauty Star debuts. The show runs 13 weeks, and concludes with a live finale, where viewers will vote on the final three contestants.
And that’s all Sara Stoy can say about what happens on the show. She knows whether she is one of the final three, but her response to whether she will be among the first or last to go is, “You’ll have to watch the show.”
Stoy did say she loved Atlanta and loved the whole experience of being on the show.
For one thing, there were celebs to hobnob with. The show’s second season is hosted by model Ashley Graham and its “mentor” is Sir John, who’s done Beyonce’s makeup. Judges include Leah Wyar, Yu Tsai, and supermodel Christie Brinkley.
For another thing, there was the pace, which Stoy said was quick, to say the least. The days were intense, filled with challenges that only gave contestants a few hours to get a task done, and those were stacked into long days over three weeks. For someone who’s developed a signature around the “easy, smokey, sexy” look, Stoy said a lot of the challenges shoved her right out of her comfort zone. But like all ventures outside the bubbles we make ourselves cozy in, Stoy said she learned a lot about what she can do, and now feels like she’s got a whole new sense of her abilities.
“It was so amazing,” she said. “I would so do it all over again.”
This coming from someone who admits she was scared to death to travel to a new city on her own for the first time. Turns out she didn’t go quite by herself. Stoy’s mother, Melissa, traveled to Atlanta, too, although she wasn’t allowed to stay at the same hotel.
Melissa Stoy, who works for the state Department of Human Services, doesn’t hide that she’s the protective sort. She went to Atlanta because she and her daughter had enough of a question mark in their heads about the legitimacy of the casting call to wonder if it might not just be some elaborate ruse to lure young ladies to what is—in all seriousness—the epicenter of trafficked young women in the United States.
The call was legit, though, and it turns out the two of them had a blast. So much so that both of them want to go back and spend more time in the city.
But Melissa Stoy is also protective about her daughter’s future, and finds herself increasingly wrestling with being supportive of her daughter’s passion for a career in makeup, which clashes with the kind of sensibility only afforded to someone who’s lived long enough to see how choices play out over time.
Stoy said her mother is actually very supportive of her. It’s just that she worries like, well, a mom worries.
“Makeup is great and all, but it’s very hard to get into,” Melissa Stoy said. “I still need her to go to college right now.”
Stoy is in college, actually. She’s at Mercer County Community College finishing up her associate’s degree in education. She’ll be attending William Patterson University after the spring semester at Mercer to get her bachelor’s.
She’s definitely interested in education, mainly smaller children, but said her heart has always been with makeup.
“I’d love to have my own store,” she said. “That would be the dream.”
Her daughter’s being on a show centered around professional makeup has softened Melissa Stoy’s opinions some.
“I’m super proud of her,” she said. But to see the industry from up close made her realize her daughter might actually be onto something. “It made me think, ‘OK, there are jobs out there.’ It feels like it’s possible now.”
Both Stoys admit to having regular arguments over exactly how Sara’s future should play out. But Sara realizes she has the advantage of youth, which gives her a couple years to figure things out. And both feel sure things will go just fine, whatever direction they go in.
With little else than a teaser trailer for American Beauty Star floating around before the premiere, it’s a lot less clear how the ensuing 13 weeks will go for Stoy. Talking to her in the interim, between filming and airtime, it’s hard to not think things might go rather well, though, given how relentlessly upbeat she is when she talks about the show and her life.
Stoy was not kidding when she referred to herself as bubbly and outgoing. She’s a rapid-fire conversationalist who seems to always see things for their possibilities. And she said the show gave her a taste for what she always thought was out there for someone with a little drive and a lot of talent—an actually glamorous career path in an actually glamorous field.
Her mom-worries aside, Melissa Stoy does not for a second doubt her daughter’s talents with brushes and palettes.
“I love her work,” she said. “And I’m not just saying that as a mom.”
When Stoy put her first YouTube video together, Melissa thought she’d have to pull out the ol’ “good job, Sara—because that’s what you do,” she said. But she has no doubt that if skill were enough to make a living, her daughter would make a good one.
And while she’s rooting hard for her daughter, Melissa Stoy said there is one thing that’s always puzzled her about Sara’s lifelong—as in, since she was a toddler—interest in makeup.
“When she does makeup, even when she goes into makeup stores, she just lights up,” she said. “I don’t know where it came from. I’m not into it at all.”
So where did this passion for makeup come from?
“To be honest, I have no clue,” Stoy said. “I just always really loved it.”