Tally Bookbinder

Tally Bookbinder gives JLife’s Emma Steele a glimpse into her life as an internationally acclaimed celebrity makeup artist and hair stylist.

What do David Beckham, Suranne Jones, Gok Wan and Victoria Pendleton have in common? Aside from being household names, they are just some of the celebrities to grace Tally’s extensive CV. From working on the National Television Awards to featuring in HELLO! Magazine, Tally has come a long way since inadvertently making-up her sister’s face to resemble a 1980s popstar.

Manchester born and bred, Tally says she was an artistic and creative youngster but believed a career in makeup was a Hollywood dream. Fortunately, her dad had other ideas and enrolled Tally on a course at the Dawn Cragg School of Film & TV: “My dad was a saxophonist and he loved his job. He encouraged his children to do the same and I now instil this into my daughter, Georgia,” explains Tally. With a two-year waiting list for the course, Tally used this time wisely on the makeup counters of Lancôme and Estée Lauder.

Some years later, when a “mixture of circumstance and luck” left her styling and co-ordinating the fashion pages for a magazine, Tally realised she had a taste for fashion and an eye for styling shoots. By slowly making her way up the career ladder – networking, making contacts and joining the creative sector of a modelling agency – her hard work paid off when she landed a job as the personal makeup artist to Take That.

Tally spent two years with the band touring, working on TV shows such as Top of The Pops and styling music videos including their hit, Back for Good: “I knew for some time Take That were splitting up. When Gary and Mark went solo they both asked if I would join them – I continued with Gary and spent time in LA working on his Forever Love album cover,” reminisces Tally. “Once Gary took a back seat from music, I knew I needed to get back out there. Fortunately, the kudos of working with Take That meant other celebrities started to book me.”

Tally wasn’t short on offers from northern-based celebrities, including the Emmerdale cast, Maxine Peake, Angela Griffin, Gaynor Faye, Kym Marsh and Michelle Keegan. She also started to work on Coronation Street’s red carpet events – a job she still enjoys doing. It was while on a train to a red carpet event that the idea for Pro Makeup Academy came about – a joint venture Tally runs in Saddleworth with her friend and fellow celebrity makeup artist, Collette Casey.

“We are huge advocates of beautifully natural and pretty makeup; we don’t want to change a face or provide a ‘mask’. We are equally passionate about passing on our skills and industry experience to teach teenagers and women they don’t have to be a celebrity to look beautiful. We show them what to do with the makeup they already have and build their confidence,” enthuses Tally.

Back on set, Tally cites one of her proudest moments as being credited on the Children’s BAFTA award-winning adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Ugly Duckling. She describes another career high as doing the makeup for Alison Steadman, of Abigail’s Party and Gavin & Stacey fame: “I’ve always looked up to Alison and I was genuinely starstruck when I met her. I even asked for a picture to send to my mum – something I never do!”

Although Tally’s job is celebrity-driven, explaining that the intimacy of it allows her to form lovely bonds, friendships and relationships, she doesn’t just work with well-known faces. Tally keeps her feet firmly on the ground and enjoys doing hair and makeup for weddings and other events, with much of her work secured through word of mouth and recommendations. So with 27 years industry experience now under her belt, Tally knows the importance of being nice to people: “It’s amazing what obstacles you overcome when you’re nice. Knowing I can make someone relax and be happy by being nice, as well as making them look and feel good, gives me great job satisfaction,” says Tally, who adds, “I work with lovely people in a fantastic environment and get paid for it – it doesn’t get better than that! If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Tally – whose real name is Natalie – is named after her grandfather, Nat Bookbinder. When Tally got engaged to her now husband, Mark, they knew the Manchester Jewish Museum was their venue when they spotted a plaque dedicated to her grandfather: “It’s the only plaque the museum doesn’t have information for and my family are unaware of its origin. If anyone knows anything about it, I’d love to hear from them!”