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How Afro-Latino Sedrique Olison Embraces All of Himself

By Antonia Naje Allsopp, Photographs by Brien Hollowell
Celebrate National Latin-American/Hispanic Heritage Month with us! Through October 15, we’ll be sharing various stories from the Latinx community — be sure to read them all.
In an adorably straightforward cartoon to explain his Mexican-American, bicultural, mixed-race heritage, cartoonist Terry Blas clarified the confusing terminology: “Hispanic” defines
language, while “Latino” defines geography. (“Latinx” is becoming popular, too, as it eliminates the male-female binary inherent in the original term.) None of these distinctions are defined by race. Let’s explore the many shades of Latin that grace us each day.

All the boys in his family have unique names — including titles. “Master Sedrique Lynn Von Olison,” he laughs. It’s an effortless, full-bodied diaphragmatic roar perfect for his towering six-foot-five frame, caramel skin and dazzling pearly whites. With a laugh as contagious as his personality, I find myself sunk, engulfed, all in. And that’s Olison’s advice to you, as well.

Embrace it. All of it. All of you — including your greatness.

A name like Olison’s spawns greatness from the get-go, we chuckle. “I guess so,” he retorts with a raise of his eyebrow and shrug of his shoulders that suggests he’d never considered such a notion. But it was real: The physical stature, the personality, the look — he fit the name that preceded it all.

For Olison, this no-holds-barred, jump-in-with-both-feet, feel-it-in-your-bones approach to life has worked. He does what he wants, when he wants and how you feel about it is not his concern. “This is me,” he explains. “You’re gonna love it or you’re not. If you don’t love it, I’ll pray for you. If you do — then let’s go. I’ve always surrounded myself with people who love me for my heart, not the exterior cover.”

Curious minds often ask, though, “What are you?” in an effort to place his look. “Latino, Dominican and African-American. Tiano Indian, African and Spaniard — I’m black,” he asserts. But his final answer? “I’m human. I’m Sedrique.”

He most recently found out about his Dominican Republic origins and immediately dove all in to learn about his family. “I booked a flight, went by myself and have been back many times.

Last fall, Olison celebrated his 26th year as principal makeup artist for the Denver Broncos cheerleaders, where he’d logged 237 games in both Bronco Stadiums, four Super Bowls, three America Bowls; worked on 22 calendar shoots and had done 492 cheerleaders’ makeup. “I love my job,” he beams. “They call me the face, boobs and abs guy.”

“You paint those on?!” I exclaim.

“We enhance,” he states, calmly. “We highlight.”

And that’s not all. Sedrique has also done the faces of models, such as Iman, Nikki Taylor, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks; actors Cloris Leachman and Whoopi Goldberg; and entertainers and politicians, such as Al Sharpton, Tatiana Ali, John Legend and Hill Harper. He’s worked for designers Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, as well as the brands Tide, Pantene and L’Oréal, just to name a few.

“If I can help someone conquer a goal, give them that confidence, live out that fantasy or just feel better about themselves through the artistry of makeup, then my job is done,” he shares. “I’ve been very blessed. I’ve been to places that I can say I wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for the makeup.” Iceland, Italy, Prague — even the smallest, most remote places of the U.S. fill his travel history. “It’s been a definite journey.”

In a final note, to wrap up advice he’d give to other in-betweeners, he thought back to all the cultures that make up his heritage — that make him who he is. “Don’t limit yourself. Embrace it all because that is you and that is the beauty of it.”

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