Benny Cerra, a makeup artist from Carbondale, showed off his artistry skills and bared his soul during the finale of beauty guru James Charles’ “Instant Influencer.”
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for Cerra, 18, to secure the top spot, but he admitted to learning so much about himself during the competition.
“Honestly, this was the best experience of my whole entire life,” he said.
Between Cerra, Ashley Strong and Kailin Chase, Strong was named as the top artist and won the $50,000 grand prize, as well as the same filming equipment setup that Charles uses, valued at $10,000, and a collaboration with Charles on his YouTube channel.
Cerra, who is known for creating wild and creative looks on Instagram (@bennycerra), still gave his everything to the final challenge. The artists were tapped to create the next viral makeup look. Cerra chose to create an intricate look featuring an Ariana Grande “Dangerous Woman”-inspired leather-looking eye mask and bunny ears on top with a realistic bunny look on the bottom half of his face, complete with cotton fur and whiskers.
Cerra said the look represented that while he may look sweet, quiet and innocent, he’s also very fierce.
“I guess my whole life I’ve kind of been putting on a mask,” he said. “I’ve always (been) trying to act all happy, but I’ve always been very depressed, always felt like I had nothing and then I came here and I feel like I’m here for a reason and I matter.”
Charles, along with fellow judges, president of cosmetics brand Anastasia Beverly Hills, Norvina, and renown makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic (Kim Kardashian is a client), didn’t think Cerra’s look was enough to win the competition. However Charles still believes Cerra has a bright future ahead of him.
“Over the past few weeks it’s been great seeing you now as an artist, but I have loved watching your grow as a person,” Charles told Cerra.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT