Jay Manuel was born on August 14, 1972 in Springfield, Illinois. He is a makeup artist, mostly recognized for his contribution as a creative director of the popular reality TV show, America's Next Top Model.


His mother is an Italian and his father is Dutch Malaysian. Raised by his adoptive parents in Toronto, Jay was a medical student who was also interested in opera. Jay wanted to be a professional singer, especially one that would get the chance to perform in an opera. He was told that it would take centuries to improve his voice. Even though Jay was hurt by the harsh words, he accepted the reality. He just did not have the physical gifts to sing in the opera. That is why he decided to switch to another passion of his, fashion.

America’s Next Top Model

Jay openly admits that he is a gay and the fashion industry is where he loves to develop his passion.

As a makeup artist, Jay began with famous clients such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Vanessa Williams, Iman, and Tyra Banks. He produced his own makeup line called Manuel Override and became the director behind Tyra Bank’s photoshoot for the reality TV series, America’s Next Top Model.

He was nicknamed as Mister Jay but he got fired because of a drop in ratings. The long running series hit disappointment because of the decreasing percentage of viewers. With just a million people watching the premiere episode, Tyra Banks confirmed that she needed to ditch out Miss J, Mr. Jay, and Nigel Barker. On her official Facebook, she stated that she was going to miss them and that it was a pleasure working with them. Nigel Barker also wrote in his blog that he will surely miss the cast because of the long friendship they developed together.

When asked by Beauty Con how he developed his personal style, Jay said, “Most people don’t even know this! I found this illustration of Flash Gordon where he was illustrated to be much more tanned than he usually is, but he had this white hair and I remember showing Tyra [Banks] and saying, “Oh my God, doesn’t this look like me!?” and she was like, “It’s SO YOU! You’ve gotta do this to your hair!” But we were in the middle of shooting cycle one of Top Model, and I wasn’t allowed to change my cut or color. I had a spikey hair style and this was in the early 2000s, so when the style went out I felt dated. But [Tyra] literally dared me to color my hair. So, the day after we wrapped, I went and colored my hair for the first time. I was so relieved when, after 18 seasons, I got to retire that look and could be a little more Don Draper.

The style may change but color will never change. The silver hair reminds me of my grandfather who was a tailor and he always had this immaculately parted and pomaded white silver hair. I love that it’s a little bit of that old world suited dapper look. At the same time, it does stand out with my color complexion tone — I wish it was my natural color! I feel like it’s a part of me now, it feels more natural to me.”


Apart from the hit series, Jay has appeared on TV many times including a cameo in the drama Being Erica, playing himself. He then moved to Canada to shoot the reality series that was a spin off from America’s Next Top Model, The new show was branded as Canada’s Next Top Model. He became one of the judges and host instead of the creative director.

He expanded his creativity by launching another line Attitude, for Sears in 2011.

As a world renowned makeup artist for celebrities, Jay has collaborated with influential photographers in the fashion industry, namely Herb Ritts and Annie Leibovitz. Jay is known for his sharp comments and an eye for the details. He is also a humorous guy despite his creative mindset and serious work ethic.

Jay Manuel Beauty Line

Jay started a new line of facial products for women of all colors. In an interview with Beauty Con, he described his motivation for the new line, “I wanted women to have a different experience at a counter because the number one complaint that women have when they approach a brand, especially in a retail environment, is that there’s so much to choose from. I wanted the color portion of shopping the brand to be very empowering, so that if you think of yourself as that classic woman, or an “iconic” woman, or “avant-garde,” I do all the color grouping within every color category for you. So I’ve tried to create that whole awareness [of the different looks you can go for].”

Personal Life

Being a gay man, Jay never actually confirms details about his relationship with a guy or if he would like the idea of getting married and having a husband. He has dated many men during his career and that keeps him in the attention of the paparazzi. His partners were hot topics but he seems to not want the public to know more than what he shows. His recent partner was Francesco Scavullo, an American fashion photographer who has a touch of glamor in every image he produces.

Because of his experience with giving advice on America’s Next Top Model, Beauty Con asked him to give advice to aspiring trend setters in the fashion industry, “Don’t do other people — do you. You really have to be yourself, and it sounds easy to say and flippant because we hear this message so often, but whatever you feel passionate about, you have to stick to. All the people who have been successful in the fashion industry were told to change but they stuck to what they did and it became what they were known for. Think out of the box. Use your social media, push your way in. Today, you have so many other resources at your fingertips.”

Last Modified: Apr 7, 2020

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