Transgender Filipina lands dream job as makeup artist for the stars

NEW YORK — “My love for makeup started when I was a kid — I’m always amazed when I watch my mom do her make up.”

Ally Castillo never thought her love for makeup would take her places she never even imagined.

Formerly known as Alvin Castillo in the theater world, this former Kundirana singer, who was also a professional actor at Repertory Philippines, moved to the U.S. after graduating from college in 2000.

Castillo’s love for musical theater eventually brought her to New York City in 2013.

While waiting for that big break on Broadway, Castillo landed a job as a makes up artist for Christian Dior at Saks Fifth Avenue.

“What’s another field where I can still be creative, that I won’t be judged by the way I look, but with my abilities, that’s the reason why I went to make up.”

Castillo, who was still coming to grips with her sexuality at that time, said that for ten years she went to work dressed as a man.

“I presented myself then as a boy — the VP of the company even asked me are you just going to come to work, one day as Ally, and then when you don’t feel like coming as Ally, you’re just going to come to work as Alvin.”

Dior, a progressive french company, allowed Alvin to transition to Ally with the help of her trans-sister Angel, who transitioned a year earlier.

“It was a bit hard then, especially pre-Caitlyn Jenner time… but seeing my sister transitioned, and she being a registered nurse and a professional actress in Los Angeles, she became my inspiration.”

Working for another french makeup company Nars gave Ally the chance to work with some celebrities like Naomi Osaka — the reigning champion in women’s singles at the Australian and the U.S. Open.

After taking her allegiance to the U.S. flag, she legally changed her name to Ally Alvin Castillo, a name that embraced her past and present self.

Today, she works as full-time personal make up artist for the award-winning anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News, Nora O’Donnell.

Traveling the world where the news coverage takes her — she even had a chance to do former vice president Joe Biden’s make up during a CBS This Morning guesting last October.

“For me, just to do make up, doesn’t matter who, is very rewarding because — at the end of the day, you’re making someone look and feel good about themselves, and that’s really what I love about my job.”

From a department store counter make-up stand, to the studios of CBS and sets around the world, each of Castillo’s face canvass tells different stories – but it’s her own story of transition and acceptance of her true self that is inspiring others.

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