Meet Gabbi Pascua, the Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist

Meet Gabbi Pascua, the Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist


In this MEGA exclusive, Gabbi Pascua delves deeper into her career as a makeup artist, her definition of beauty, and the importance of representation in the industry

The world is certainly brimming with stories about beauty. Perhaps it began with a sense of play or a product of influence, but for Gabbi Pascua, it is a reflection of her family’s vibrant culture. “I grew up with a huge Filipino-American family on both sides. Everyone was in California, and only distant relatives lived in the Philippines. There were multiple generations of family members around having events at all times of the year, and because of all of the family gatherings, obviously, we would put on performances and I fell into dance as my sport and main hobby growing up,“ she reminisced about her early relationship with beauty. “I had to learn how to do stage makeup, and then my aunties would let me practice on them. Whenever there was a family party, I started to get asked to do hair and makeup.” 

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Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

Despite her success of being recognized by The National Television Academy with two Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards and five Nominations in the Outstanding Makeup category, the makeup artist remains humble, open, and grateful. “My mom, grandma, and aunties were my first introduction to self-care, beauty rituals, and wellness. Meanwhile, reading through magazines, getting ready for parties, [and] playing dress up for dance recitals or competitions all contributed to my initial draw and interest in beauty and the industry.” 

It’s a given that her talent and eye for beauty played a huge role in her career, but her passion, mindset, and hardworking nature shaped her to be the most notable artist in her field. Below, we explore her early chapters, the role of beauty in the modern age, and the importance of representation in the industry. 

Meet Gabbi 

Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

Gabbi Pascua has etched her name in the global beauty scene as a remarkable makeup artist. In fact, a dive into her digital portfolio speaks volumes about her expertise. However, if there is one thing admirable about the beauty creative is her long history in the industry. “When I graduated high school, I decided to go to beauty school instead of immediately applying for a traditional four-year college because I thought doing hair and makeup would be a fun side job to get me through college,” she recalled her early years. “It was slightly controversial to pick a trade over a traditional career, but my parents encouraged me to follow my dreams and really saw how much drive I had to pursue it.” 

Alongside her career in makeup artistry, Gabbi Pascua took the role as co-founder of ASOB Media, an outlet for creative ideas and conversations around beauty. “It’s been an adjustment to step off the TV sets and to jump into documentary sets I’m executive producing, but it’s exciting at the same time,” she shared. “ASOB Media is still at the beginning stages, but we’ve already been able to travel around the world and so I’m just looking forward to what happens next.” 

Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

Outside of the beauty sphere, the makeup artist shared her interest in wellness and travel. “Recently, I’ve been traveling around the world for the last six months and now, I’m working from Japan, so my current days off have been spent exploring whatever city I’m in,” she explained. “I’m either seeking the nearest immersive experience, whether it’s a spa, bath, workout, or beauty space for treatments. And I don’t know if some would consider traveling as a hobby, but even when I’m home in California, if I have the time, I always want to explore places through food, art, or events, and visit somewhere new, even if it’s just for an afternoon.”

On her craft

“I would say I’m pretty laid-back, but more of a laid-back glam artist,” Gabbi Pascua smiled when asked about how she would describe herself as a makeup artist. With her 12-year residency in the beauty industry, the creative has a clear vision of what her signature is: “I really like capturing an essence of effortless beauty, or looks that look polished, but not like you’re trying too hard. I always want my clients to feel like themselves, but also like they’re playing dress up at the same time. I never want to change anyone. If anything, I just always want someone to feel the most confident and comfortable in whatever look they’re wearing.”

Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

Given her breakthroughs and milestones, Gabbi Pascua continues to celebrate her roots. “As a Filipina makeup artist, I think having such a large family and built-in community provided me the ability to read rooms, build relationships, work through conflicts—but most importantly, nurture,” she shared. “When you’re on set, you turn into a little family with multiple personalities until the project contract ends. The ability to just relate and be with a crew of people on a day-to-day basis felt comfortable to me because it was my everyday growing up.” 

“I feel like, being a Filipina makeup artist made me so thankful for my cultural upbringing because it helped me really share a sense of warmth, love, and care within my immediate communities because that’s what I was fortunate to grow up with.”

On her beauty perspective

One’s definition of beauty is undeniably the best topic to delve into. “I define beauty as confidence. And when I experience people, it’s not about how one might look, but rather their energy and the way they can carry themselves and can move a room,” she explains as her take on beauty is one thing anyone can’t miss. “Beauty is sincere, kind, and inspiring. I also feel like beauty has a vibrancy to it. The most beautiful people, places, and things leave a positive impact on us. And that goodness, to me, is beauty.”

Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

Meanwhile, Gabbi also shared her insights into what the role of beauty is in the modern age. “I believe that the role of beauty in the modern age is to give everyone a sense of freedom. To allow for there to be a sense of self-expression however one might want to carry it out. Beauty, to me, is crucial to one’s overall wellness. If you feel good, you look good. For me, it’s about how I show up and care for myself first, and that’s directly connected with how I can show up in the world and for others.” 

As we dove deeper into the topic, we exchanged our moments when we feel the most beautiful and confident. “After a day at the beach,” she began. “There’s something about the way I feel when my skin is sunkissed, my hair seems to come alive once salt water touches it, and for whatever reason, I always feel the most grounded and like myself on days like that. I could be wearing sweats coming out of a shower with no makeup on and feel just so sincerely me. I think that confidence in just being myself is what makes me feel the most beautiful.”

On finding power in her beauty struggle

As mentioned previously, there is no such thing as a perfect relationship with beauty. In fact, the makeup artist shared an honest story about her own insecurities. “I was overweight growing up in the 90s and was teased, isolated, and called out as being fat over dinner tables. From nine years old, I hated myself and my body. I struggled with body dysmorphia, an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression, which led me to try to self-medicate through alcohol and drug abuse. So overcoming insecurities and self-acceptance has been my biggest challenge.”

Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

Gabbi Pascua admitted that insecurities still linger today. However, she found a sense of healing by creating a career that immersed her in the beauty industry. “To go from being challenged by beauty standards to then participating in campaigns and events that set the trends and fuel them—I got to feel a full circle moment,” she opened up. “Like I was in some sort of control, and a contributor to the current beauty narrative. And that perspective brought a sense of healing in and of itself.” 

“Ironically, beauty, or the obsession with it, was my first addiction and biggest struggle. But through it all, it became the vehicle to my biggest success story.” 

“Encouraging others helped encourage me, and the beauty community inspired me to seek the meaning of what true beauty really means to me beyond just makeup,” she added. “Ultimately, I overcame all of this by focusing on healing and seeking wellness. When I feel confident and grounded in my own body, I feel the most sincere, like I can do anything.”

On the importance of representation 

As a Filipino-American, Gabbi Pascua knows the value of representation. “I never found another Filipina that looked like me in advertisements growing up in the states, nor did I see another girl who even closely resembled me in magazines. The lack of representation did something to my perception of self-worth,” she pointed out. “I was objectively seeking unrealistic beauty standards that genetically, I would never meet. Today, I think that the industry across the board is much better, but I’m speaking from a perspective from the United States.”

Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

The makeup artist also did not miss to call out the lack of diversity in the advertisements in various countries. “It surprisingly made me feel conflicted as a Filipina-American woman,” she began. “I was so surprised at how triggered I was to only see one look being advertised everywhere here. We all want to belong—it’s human nature, and culture shock was one thing, but then a sense of being an ‘outsider’ truly set in and I had to accept that I’d only be an observer of their beauty standards, and not a participant.” 

She continued by mentioning that while she honors and respects other people’s cultures and their own beauty standards, the lack of representation has left an impression on her. And to end the topic on a very significant note, Gabbi only had this to say: “I think representation within the global beauty scene is very important.” Simple, yet meaningful for everyone, especially those who don’t really see themselves in the world of beauty.

On the future of beauty

In the realm of what is next for the beauty industry, Gabbi Pascua envisions the return of the glamazon. “I feel like we’re going to be led into looks inspired by ‘90s beauty icons mixed in with early 2000s flair even more than we are already seeing,” she shared. “I predict that Kevyn Aucoin’s Making Faces will begin to trend and the return of bold black eyeliners will appear in various forms.” 

Emmy Award-Winning Filipina Makeup Artist, Gabbi Pascua

Moreover, the makeup artist punctuated that she can foresee trends encompassing contemporary versions of worn-in rock and roll-inspired water lines to clean yet bold black liners that define eyes top and bottom. “A black liner will be the hero product yet again, and I predict smokey creases in dull grays and beige and browns will begin to trend, and mono-chromatic metallic and frost eyes will be seen all over the lids,” she mentioned. “Lips will be bolder—deeper reds, even more browns.” 

Both of us agreed that an influx of 90s trends is poised to make a comeback. But her least favorite look? Thin brows. “I won’t be participating in this brow trend, but all the hottest fashionistas will, I’m sure. I hope everyone learns how to block their brows so you save them instead of getting rid of them completely,” she laughed. 

Take it from the pro 

Of course, a beauty conversation wouldn’t be complete without an exchange of a beauty lesson. As we conclude our chat, Gabbi Pascua left an inspiring note for every beauty fan. “Do it because you love the craft.” She continued, “I hope this next generation is not caught up with the celebrity of it, but I do hope they fall in love with the beauty industry for its craft. Work on your artistry, hair, makeup, skin, nails—whatever it is. And let your work speak for yourself. Let your clients refer to you. And most importantly, do it because you love it. If it’s your passion, lean in. The beauty industry has so much to offer and so much room, always. I love the industry so much that I hope people sincerely love it in their own way.”

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