Aesthetic Activism: a conversation about MAC’s partnership with Angels in America

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

image courtesy of MAC Cosmetics
image courtesy of MAC Cosmetics
When Angles in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes made its Broadway debut in the early 1990’s, the looks of the characters in the seven-and-a-half-hour play were created in collaboration with MAC. Now, The Estée Lauder Companies makeup brand is instrumental in the reprise too.

To find out more about the business behind the scenes of the MAC / Angels in America partnership, Cosmetics Design checked in with Karen Reddy-Medeiros, executive director of global artist relations at MAC Cosmetics.

Cosmetics Design: ​Briefly say something about MAC’s history as a makeup artists’ brand and why the product is so appropriate for use in a live theater situation.

Karen Reddy-Medeiros: MAC ’s roots are in on-stage and on-screen beauty moments. Our very first customers were makeup artists, models and photographers looking for impactful cosmetics. Through artist relations, the brand places continued focus on supporting artists working in theatre, film, television, music and the performing arts.  We honor individuality, theatricality and artistry every day - working directly with a Broadway production, especially one as disruptive as Angels in America, reflects that.

CD: What led to the MAC / Angels in America collaboration?

R-M: MAC supported the National Theatre in London recently on the productions and Angels in America.  This lead to working closely alongside genius makeup designer, Giuseppe Cannas. The National Theatre then invited us to continue our partnership on Broadway. MAC and Angels in America were vanguards for approaching the subject of HIV/AIDs something that we have been doing since the early 90s.

CD: Why does MAC partner with theater shows? Please talk a bit about the business case for such a partnership?

The onstage looks in Angels in America are otherworldly so working with M·A·C’s bold collection is a fantastic partnership. Moreover, both MAC and Angels in America were both at the forefront of discussion on HIV/AIDs. This partnership isn’t just a showcase of our products but a strong testament to our values.

CD: How does the brand’s partnership with Angels in America fit in with MAC’s social responsibility initiatives? 

R-M: For us, partnering with Angels in America couldn’t feel more right. First, MAC is chiefly a group of storytellers, whether that be through our programming, our artistry, or our creative campaigns. Secondly, MAC, via the MAC AIDS Fund, has been at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS discussion since the early 90s. To date we’ve given over $480m toward the fight to end the epidemic and assist those living with the disease.

Our CSR efforts don’t just stop at funding initiatives. We do our part to make sure stories of hope and truth from the perspective of underserved communities get told. We’ve created two feature films – More Than T and It’s Not Over – as well as a digital series with Refinery29, Trans102, that do just that. Bringing Angels in America back to Broadway is a continuation of that journey. 

CD: Angles in America is a politically charged play. Please share your thoughts on why it makes sense for brands to take a stand or continue socially conscious initiatives in the current political climate?

R-M: Since the very beginning we’ve supported matters that are important to us, our family and our friends. Our credo is All Ages, All Races, All Genders. We want to do our part to advocate for both our customers and our employees.

Through the money raised from our VIVA GLAM lipstick we’ve been in the lucky position to not only call for progress but to actually bring about progress. Since 1994 we’ve raised millions for HIV/AIDS research, treatment innovation and education to help people around the world.   We hope to continue to use our platform to support causes important to our employees and customers.




Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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