In The PathTM, we spotlight different women making a difference in the fashion, beauty, wellness, and medical aesthetics industries. Here, media personality Charmaine Johnise shares her road to success.
Voluntarily opening a window into your life takes a serious level of bravery from which most people shy away. For media personality Charmaine Johnise, signing up to be a cast member on a VH1® reality show in 2015 wasn’t just about putting her world on display — it was the serendipitous career move she’d hoped for since college.
The Louisiana native had always wanted to work in entertainment, and while enrolled at Howard University®, she originally planned to major in mass communications. “Because it’s almost a one in a million chance of becoming successful in the field, I changed my major to something that had a more tangible success rate — speech pathology and audiology,” explains the 29-year-old. Yet, her dream still found her, albeit unexpectedly, when she befriended the team at 9Mag℠, a tattoo shop in Chicago.
“The guys who worked at the shop and I got really close,” she shares. “They were creating a lot of buzz in Chicago for being a premiere tattoo shop — and VH1 literally just found us.” The network was about to start filming a reality show surrounding the day-to-day operations of 9Mag, and the shop’s owners recommended to VH1 that Johnise get cast, too. The premise of Black Ink Crew®: Chicago was to follow the employees of the tattoo parlor as they navigated the drama of day-to-day operations. Johnise was billed as the “flirtatious event planner,” and after a successful first season, she was able to use her newfound TV platform as a springboard to propel her career.
Now, in addition to locking in a prime spot on one of television’s most-discussed franchises, she has also landed herself a gig on a local radio station. “The program director of iHeartRadio's® 107.5 WGCI® reached out to me via DM on Instagram® and asked me to come in for a meeting,” she explains. “When I went in for that meeting, he let me know he saw a lot of potential in me and offered me a job as an on-air radio personality.”
On top of all of this, Johnise boasts an incredibly active Instagram® following of more than 744,000 followers. “The fact that I am doing exactly what I always wanted to do seems too good to be true,” she gushes. Here, she shares the medical aesthetics treatments she’s tried, the beauty products that make her look flawless on camera, the surprising item responsible for her glowing skin, and more.
Spotlyte: What's it like being both behind the microphone on the radio and front and center on TV?
Charmaine Johnise: It feels like I have the best of both worlds! I get to understand how to produce and engineer my radio show, and on the other end, I truly understand what it takes to be a personality.
Spotlyte: What do you get most excited about in your job?
CJ: The fact that I get to interview the hottest celebrities. It's [funny]: the celebrities watch my TV show Black Ink Crew: Chicago and they feel like they are being interviewed by a celebrity, while I am honored to be in their presence.
Spotlyte: How do you feel about the current landscape of the media business? How has social media impacted your career?
CJ: Social media is a great way of getting people outside the industry to know about your career. I always post a “call to action” on social media, so people can tune into my media outlets when I am live. Social media and [traditional] media go hand in hand. People are also launching their media careers on larger platforms that started on social media.
Spotlyte: What's been the biggest challenge you've faced as a media personality?
CJ: The biggest challenge that I have faced is people taking my role on Black Ink Crew: Chicago too seriously. Although I try to live my truest life on TV, people have to keep in mind that reality shows are for entertainment! We care about viewers and ratings.
Spotlyte: What has your experience been like, specifically as a woman of color, in the media business?
CJ: My experience is different than others’ because I have a reality TV show. I do feel that the media space is more open to working with women of color than they were in the past, but there are so few spots for us in the entertainment industry.
Spotlyte: In a crowded influencer-centric world, how do you stay relevant?
CJ: It's important to know what your followers want to see. A lot of influencers are posting anything for money, but not all money is good money. Your followers want to feel like they can trust you and the brands you are posting. If I don't use it in real life, I'm not going to post it for my followers to buy.
Spotlyte: Tell us about your beauty routine. Do you have different routines when doing radio versus TV?
CJ: I keep the same routine daily. I wash my face with cool water in the morning, use a primer, and get started with my makeup. I like to stick to the same routine, because my life is so busy. That way, I have my routine down pat, and I can literally do it with my eyes closed.
Spotlyte: Do you do your own makeup? If so, tell us what you use and what some of your favorite products are.
CJ: Yes, I do my own makeup. I start off with Mario Badescu [Skin Care]® facial spray, because I find it is easier to apply makeup with a moist face. I also use a beautyblender®, and I always make sure it's wet. I then use Becca® Skin LoveTM Glow highlighter drops as a primer to give my face a nice glow. Estee Lauder® Double Wear® is my current foundation of choice, and I also use Estee Lauder DoubleWear concealer. I prefer my concealer to be a shade lighter than my foundation.
Next, I use Too Faced® Born This Way® Multi-Use Sculpting Concealer for contour. I have a nice chocolate shade for my contour, so I can really define my face. As far as setting powder, I love Kylie Cosmetics®. It doesn't cake up and it sets nicely. To give my face a nice, even look, I use Estee Lauder Spiced SandTM powder. Then I apply ColourPop® eyeliner. I set my face again with Mario Badescu, and then I apply the highlight of my choice. I apply my lashes, and then I’m set to go about my day.
Spotlyte: Are there any glam secrets that go on behind-the-scenes of either radio or reality TV?
CJ: I go a little heavier on the makeup for TV when it comes to contouring, because when I actually watch the scenes that I filmed, [my makeup] looks better and more defined. I also remove my makeup with olive oil before I use makeup wipes, and I apply a little olive oil on my face after. I prefer olive oil because it has elasticity properties.
Spotlyte: What is your don't-leave-home-without-it beauty favorite?
CJ: I always make sure I have my Estee Lauder DoubleWear matte powder in case I get a little oily throughout the day.
Spotlyte: What's your skincare routine?
CJ: People always compliment me on my skin. Believe it or not, I really only use warm water, Neutrogena® makeup wipes, and olive oil to keep a fresh face.
Spotlyte: What's your anti-aging philosophy?
CJ: The better you feel, the younger you appear. Eat healthy, treat yourself with great beauty tactics, and drink a lot of water!
Spotlyte: What's your idea of self-care?
CJ: My idea of self-care is doing whatever is best to take care of yourself. That can include massages, getting hair and nails done, facials, even therapy — because mental health has a lot to do with how you feel and look.
Spotlyte: What's your stance on medical aesthetics? Have you personally tried any?
CJ: My stance is pro — I support people trying whatever they want to try. I have tried injectables before. I have gotten fillers, and I would recommend trying them, especially in the smile line area. I loved the results and would recommend the treatment to others.
Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, it has potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you.
Spotlyte: What's your current hair routine? What do you use and how often?
CJ: Being an African American woman, I have very thick, coarse hair. I like to keep it braided up, so it can flourish. For the easiest way to be cute and protect my hair at the same time, I wear wigs. I get my hair rebraided every four weeks, and I keep my scalp oiled for moisture.
Spotlyte: What do you think is next for the world of natural hair?
CJ: A lot of women of color have embraced their natural hair. Wigs and protective styles also play a big part in keeping our hair healthy. Now that we have moved away from perms, we are on the right track — more women of color will choose protective styles for healthy hair growth.
Spotlyte: When do you feel most beautiful?
CJ: I feel the most beautiful with no makeup and with my natural hair!
Spotlyte: What’s next for you? Any exciting projects in the works?
CJ: Season 6 of Black Ink Crew: Chicago airs December 4, and this season, I am stepping up to the plate in a major way. I can’t give any spoilers, so tune in! I am also a radio personality on iHeartradio’s 107.5 WGCI every weekend from 2 to 6 p.m.