By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
New York-based actor, Maryam Basir, launched her business, Maryam Beauty, less than a month before SAG-AFTRA went on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)—effectively halting her TV and film work.
Although Basir said acting was something that found her, she always had aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur. After the Michigan native graduated from college, she moved to New York to figure out how to start her career.
“When I came to New York, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to own a business and be an entrepreneur,” said Basir.
But this dream would be temporarily postponed. While in a bank, a security guard approached her and asked if she was an actor or model. Basir replied that she was not, and he encouraged to consider taking up a career in show business.
Subsequently, she got an agent and started acting and modeling, securing several television projects. But, Basir quickly discovered that actors do not make as much money as society often thinks.
“It’s a dream job, but actors do have a lot of responsibilities at the end of the day,” said Basir. “Even though we may make more than what people think you could typically make in a couple months at a time, the jobs are few and far between. One job may need to last us for six months.”
In June, Basir launched Maryam Beauty, accomplishing her entrepreneurial aspirations and generating an additional stream of income to support her while Hollywood actors remain on strike.
Basir’s interest in makeup arose after becoming a model and actor.
“That’s when I first started to see the transformational effect that makeup can have on a person. I saw it in myself and all the other actors and models around me,” said Basir. “I just saw the magic that makeup could do and how it can really help enhance people’s beauty.”
Currently Maryam Beauty offers the brow stamp skit and brow perfect pencil kit. They come in black, dark brown, medium brown and blonde with a matte finish, and they are cruelty-free.
The former allows customers to shape their eyebrows in seconds. It comes with 10 stencils that accommodate different eyebrow shapes, spoolies and a stamp, and it’s water-resistant. The latter is similar to a standard eyebrow pencil, but it comes with two refills and sharpening sheets to prevent the pencil from becoming dull.
While creating the products, Basir said she was able to bring them to set for her makeup artists and co-stars to test. One was Tameka Elliott, a licensed esthetician and professional makeup artist.
Elliott met Basir in 2022 while serving as the makeup department head for a television project Basir was working on. One day, when Basir was in the makeup trailer, she asked Elliott to use her products to do her eyebrows.
“I loved it. I loved the ease of application,” said Elliott. “She had different stencils that mapped out different shapes of brows, so consumers aren’t walking around with brows that are different shapes. The stencil, the pigment and the application was amazing. We literally got the brow on in less than a minute.”
Elliott said depending on the product, filling in eyebrows can be cumbersome and time-consuming. But Basir’s products make the process easy.
“I’m very proud of Maryam. She’s a determined woman, and she’s destined for success,” said Elliott. “If she stays focused and continues to do what she’s been doing, I can see her brand being known worldwide.”
Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.