- Words Josephine Amstad
Ellis Atlantis - drag queen, social media sensation and BBC's Glow Up Season 1 winner - catches up with Notion about what it was like appearing on the show, his career highlight so far, and how he got into makeup.
Former retail assistant Ellis Atlantis catapulted into the spotlight after appearing on the BBC’s hit show Glow Up in 2019. Judged by makeup legends Val Garland and Dominic Skinner, Glow Up showcases some of the UK’s best burgeoning makeup talent, following the ten contestants as they assist backstage on fashion shows, shoots, and the West End, competing for the winning title. Ellis was crowned the first-ever Glow Up winner and secured a dream contract following the show. However, the Bradford native was already taking the drag scene by storm for their bold makeup looks before Glow Up even hit our screens.
Graduating with a Fine Arts foundation degree from college, Ellis went on to study Fashion Design at University but soon realised he preferred getting the models ready rather than the design aspect. Makeup became a way to navigate his identity in the world; the outlet for creativity and self-expression helping him to realise the confidence to celebrate his individuality and become his true self.
Since winning Glow Up, Ellis’s career has continued its dreamlike trajectory. From assisting Val Garland at Cannes to having his own line with Ardell lashes, Ellis Atlantis’s work has been showcased by Rankin, Marie Claire Magazine, Kinky Boots, and the Beauty Bay Website. With over half a million Instagram followers and millions of views racked up on TikTok, Ellis’s voice is now firmly one of authority in the beauty community. Ellis will be appearing at the TikTok ‘For You’ house in Westfield, giving talks and makeup demonstrations all day on the 6th of August. Tickets are available to buy here.
Talking to Notion, Ellis dishes on how he got into makeup, what it was like to compete on Glow Up, who his dream makeup client would be, and much more.
Hi Ellis! How did you get into makeup? What made you pick up that first makeup brush?
My first calling to make up, so to speak, was when I was at Uni, we didn’t have the money or funds to hire a makeup artist for the Runway presentations we had to do, so I started doing the makeup. This then started to challenge my idea of my gender and who I am and I started to explore the idea of drag/being trans and it really just developed from there.
What is your favourite thing about being a part of the drag community?
For me the sense of family is what I love the most, you can be in a really good chosen family with people who get you and what you’re about and that’s so so special to me.
What was it like appearing on BBC’s The Glow Up? Did the competitive element of the show change your outlook on creating makeup looks? What did you learn from the experience?
Glow was a rollercoaster of emotions but it was so much fun and I enjoyed the whole process so much, that world is what I love so for me it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had with in the makeup industry. I wouldn’t say the competition element changed me or my thought process with regards to the looks I was creating because once I have my mind made up that’s it, I’m sticking to what I know. Ultimately glowy taught me that I am a talent and that I need to believe in myself more and really push myself.
Do you think Glow Up aided in starting conversations around drag in the UK at all?
I really don’t think that Glow Up has played a part in that community. I mean, I brought Glow Up to the drag community with regards to my followers seeing me on the show etc, but for the most part Glow Up has shown that make up artistry is a real art form that can be found in so many different communities like drag etc!
Since being crowned the first-ever Glow Up winner you have assisted Val Garland at the Cannes Film festival, created your own line of Ardell lashes and instructed beauty classes at the London School of Makeup. What would you say is a standout career moment for you?
This is a tough question, I honestly enjoy every aspect of make up and the jobs that I do but meeting my idol Angelina Jolie and supporting the launch for Maleficent 2/ attending the premiere was honestly so incredible.
What is your current favourite makeup look?
This is a question I can never answer because my mood decides what I love, some days it’s all black Smokey eyes and some days it’s being painted like marble, but one thing I’ve been doing a lot on myself is brown eyeliner, it creates such a softness to the eyes.
If you could do the make up for any celebrity, who would it be?
Angelina Jolie, she is so breathtaking and I honestly think she’s one of the most beautiful humans on the planet!
You have racked up millions of views on TikTok with your stunning makeup looks. You are one of the influencers appearing at the TikTok ‘For You’ House event in Westfield running until August 8th – can you tell us a bit more about the event and what to expect?
So the TikTok For You house is a really fun opportunity for me and my audience to meet, hang out, film tiktoks and just generally have a fun day doing what I do on TikTok, I’ll be teaching tips and tricks, talking Glow Up and just having fun with make up!
You also have a successful YouTube channel and over 500k followers on Instagram! If you had to choose, do you have a favourite social media platform and why?
I think for me I’m all about education and being able to break down makeup to make it easier for those who struggle or who want to better themselves. YouTube provides the perfect platform for me to be able to educate and teach my ways to my audience and it’s also way more personal which I enjoy more.
What advice do you have for those trying to break into the beauty industry?
I really don’t have much advice other than, be yourself and be nice! It’s far too easy to get sucked up into the fantasy and you become a monster, stay humble, stay nice!
What’s next for you? Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline?
I do have a few things in the pipeline but nothing I can talk about just yet!
Finally, what is your favourite song of the moment?
At the moment I’ve got Jessie Ware on repeat but the stand out song from her at the moment is “overtime”