Rodney Jon has never asked me to use my outlet to interview him. That’s the humility in him. I’ve known Rodney for almost 20 years and have seen the bulk of his testimony firsthand. I know his work ethic, I know his loyalty, I know his laughter, and I know his pains. That’s the reason that I’m not surprised by Rodney not asking for an interview. He’s a person who wants to “make the cut” like everyone else. There’s not a bone in his body that will use someone else for his benefit.
So, when Rodney hired a new management team and they reached out to me and pitched my friend to me as a prospective feature story, I gave them no clue that he and I were friends. I wanted to see how they were going to represent the talent that I know Rodney to be. And represent him they did. I called Rodney after I spoke with his manager, and I said “Somebody must have made it big because they have their people calling me to have them placed in the magazine.” Rodney instantly starts trying to guess who I’m talking about before I reveal to him that it was his new team. “WHAT??? You’re lying!!! What did they say??” my response was simple and honest, “They said all of the right things.”
Before we begin this story, I must be very transparent…Rodney Jon is truly one of my closest friends. So while doing this interview, I found myself in a state of nostalgia, pride, and gratitude. Rodney Jon captures the essence of determination and faith with his inspiring journey from financial hardships to Emmy-nominated makeup artist. Being able to tell this story not only makes me proud of my friend, it makes me more determined in my own journey.
Rodney Jon was born and raised in the Erie section of North Philadelphia. Considered to be one of the roughest parts of the city, and was where Rodney learned the importance of Spirituality. He would spend a lot of time in church growing up and as he matured, would eventually sing with award-winning gospel artist, and Philadelphia native, Tye Tribbett. After attending college for fashion marketing and making the transition into retail merchandising, Rodney was presented with a retail management position that would change the trajectory of his life…working for Aveda, a high-end beauty and cosmetics company.
One of the most transformative moments in Rodney’s career was making the daunting decision to take all of the knowledge that he learned about the beauty industry, leave a lucrative retail job, and focus entirely on building a personal brand as a makeup artist. The stark transition required immense faith, particularly when the safety net of a regular income was absent. In retrospect, the bold move was a pivotal point that led to Rodney’s success, demonstrating how stepping out of one’s comfort zone can lead to unparalleled opportunities.
Rodney’s path sheds light on the vital role of perseverance, strong support systems, and self-belief in navigating the precarious waters of the entertainment industry. Like many passionate artists, the early days of Rodney’s relocation to New York City were rife with uncertainty and financial challenges. A stint of sleeping on the A train and couch surfing epitomized the harsh realities faced while striving for a breakthrough in a cutthroat industry. Despite these significant hurdles, Rodney found solace and support in friends who offered a stable environment during tumultuous times. This underscores the monumental importance of having a robust support system when chasing ambitious dreams.
A defining moment for Rodney transpired during an assignment in West Africa. After prior struggles, this experience marked a turning point, introducing him to a realm of success previously unimagined. The life-threatening episode in Africa led not only to a profound spiritual reflection, but culminating in the launch of entrepreneurial ventures, including a unique hat line, M.A.D.E., and a skincare line tailored for multi-ethnic skin. These endeavors were not only extensions of Rodney’s creative artistry but symbolized a deep-seated desire to make a positive impact.
Rodney’s future goals highlight their commitment to nurturing the upcoming generation. The dream to establish a school agency and host an Instagram series called “Artistry Align” mirrors their dedication to giving back. Not only does Rodney wish to share technical skills, but also to impart the wisdom gained from navigating the industry’s complexities, and inspiring others to rise above adversity.
Recognition is sweetest when it comes after a long journey peppered with sacrifice and camaraderie. Bringing a personal touchpoint to the discussion, the crucial role Rodney has played in creating welcoming environments on set for celebrities that we would interview after he finished their makeup, would allow my interviews to be more personal and the guests would be more open. A space was created that most celebrities are not afforded during an interview.
Key to Rodney’s story is self-worth and the ability to self-reflect during the journey. It’s easy to become lost in the frenetic pace of the entertainment industry, but Rodney’s narrative serves as a testament to continuously believing in one’s capabilities. By recognizing and validating his worth, Rodney exemplifies the power of believing in oneself through every season of life.
Ending the session, Rodney encourages listeners to empower themselves, take control of their destiny, and believe in the unseen. The heartfelt conversation with Rodney Jon concludes with expressions of love and encouragement, serving as a beacon of hope for anyone with a dream waiting to be realized. Through faith, networking, and unwavering dedication, Rodney’s story offers an indelible lesson: the road to success might be arduous, but it’s a journey worth every step.
- Photos by Rey Fernandez