Diana Madison is a beauty influencer and the co-founder of Obsev Studios. She has interviewed the beauty industry’s most influential figures, learning their style and skincare tips firsthand. Diana is the creator of Glam Masters, Lifetime’s beauty competition series hosted by Laverne Cox where she serves as the show’s executive producer with Kim Kardashian West and Shed Media. We reached out to hear more about Diana Madison Beauty, a line of clean and natural skin care products made with millennial moms in mind, and her role in the film Mob Town.
Diana Madison is a social media influencer, entrepreneur, TV personality, actress, and producer. She’s the co-founder of Obsev Studios, a multichannel property that includes Hollyscoop, The Fumble, NerdWire, Obsev.com and Diana’s podcast, “Dream Big.” Her network reaches over 500 million viewers each month, and the brand’s channels recently celebrated over 3 billion views.
Interning at E! and “Entertainment Tonight” after college, Diana found a lack of on-camera hosting positions. Undeterred, she forged opportunities for herself. Diana created content and became one of the first YouTubers with a web-based talk show and interview series like those on network TV.
Diana’s shows air weekly on AOL On, Amazon, Roku, YouTube, MSN, Dailymotion, and DirecTV. She speaks to the most influential artists in the beauty industry and gets their pro tips firsthand. “Dream Big” has welcomed guests like Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, and John Legend. Each episode reaches over 325 million people across distribution partners and media coverage.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself, where you come from, and how you got started in the industry?
I was born and raised in Little Armenia. Growing up, I had the Hollywood Sign as my backdrop. I grew up in a very traditional and conservative Armenian household. My parents were Armenian immigrants and political refugees, who escaped the Soviet Union in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. My entire lineage consists of refugees: my grandparents on both sides were kids of orphans, who survived the Armenian Genocide and made it out alive as refugees in Beirut, Lebanon.
Los Angeles is home for us; this is where all of our family and friends live. When I started my career in Hollywood after I graduated from UCSB, my parents were upset. They wanted me to become a lawyer while I wanted to be on camera. Although my parents wanted me to go to law school, they were supportive of my career choices, telling all of our family members and friends to watch my YouTube shows. I started my career as a host, doing online videos, and now I am an actress. I never thought it would be possible because of my upbringing, but the acting was something I had in the back of my mind. The #MeToo movement gave me the confidence to pursue it with full force. There is a lot of talk about diversity in film and TV, which wasn’t the case ten years ago when I started. There is also a lot of talk about female empowerment and making more content that represents women. Empowering women with my work is in my DNA. This is what my brand all about. I focus on ethnic women like myself. I am lucky to have an amazing tribe of family, friends, and supporters who have helped me get to where I am today. I wouldn’t be in a movie now if it weren’t for my friends who listened to me, didn’t judge me, and went out of their way to make my dreams come alive.
One year before I filmed Mob Town, I interviewed Danny A. Abeckaser — the film’s director and producer — on my online show. I told him that I was taking acting classes and wanted to pursue working as an actress with full force. He listened to me very quietly and left my studio. One year later, he called me and said he was doing a movie called Mob Town, and he could see me playing one of the mob wives. That call changed my life, and it was a moment I will never forget. Danny took a chance on me and I am eternally grateful to him for that opportunity. On set, he took the time to explain to me how things worked, and how my scenes would go. He’s a fantastic director, and I had the best experience on set. Those two days on set were a dream for me, and no matter how many more movies I film, I will always remember my first experience.
Having worked in Hollywood for so long, do you feel you’ve ever been mistreated, or things were harder because you were a woman?
I love how many men and women in the industry are supporting the women’s empowerment movement. I do see a shift in the industry, which is exciting and refreshing. Looking back, I have been in many situations where people didn’t take me seriously because I was a woman. When I created the Hollyscoop weekly news show that aired on CW affiliate networks across the country from 2009-20014, I wanted to be the host. I was told that people weren’t ready to see a woman hosting an entertainment news show by herself. They told me I needed a male cohost to host the show. I remember being devastated that people thought I couldn’t carry a show by myself because I was a “woman,” especially a show that I created. Times are different now. It’s exciting for me to see that my daughter will not have to deal with some of the things that I dealt with in the past.
Do you have a self-care routine? How did it change after having two kids?
My self-care routine consists of using my beauty product, Glowtopia, by Diana Madison Beauty. I had the idea to create the product four years ago when I had my daughter Collette. I suddenly got a nasty case of eczema; I had hives all over my body. I was told by a dermatologist to look into “clean beauty.” I remember going to Rite Aid and looking at the clean beauty section and not being impressed by what I saw. I thought to myself, “Clean beauty is archaic and needs a renaissance.” I played with the idea in my head for a while, then my mom went to Morocco and brought back a product that contained this secret ingredient called prickly pear seed oil. My mom said everyone in Morocco was raving to her about the healing powers of the prickly pear. I didn’t like the product she brought back because it was too sticky, but I loved the effect of the prickly pear. So I decided to make it my passion project to educate myself more about products and create the perfect glow potion that would hydrate my skin and give it the extra glow it needed. I had just had Collette, and I wasn’t in a good place. I was suffering from postpartum and didn’t feel beautiful. This product, a clear oil, was my savior. It helped hydrate my skin, which is essential to prevent eczema and breakouts. The oil made me feel alive — it made my skin look fresh. I looked like I had slept for days, even though I was up all night with my newborn. Three months ago, I launched Glowtopia, and the response from the beauty community has been insane. I am so lucky to have the beauty community embrace this product and give it so much love. I use it day and night as is, or I mix a drop of it into my foundation. My good friend Rokael Lizama — a makeup artist to Hollywood stars like Beyonce, Ariana Grande, and Kim Kardashian — gave me the idea to mix a drop or two of Glowtopia into my foundation before a red-carpet event. You can see the difference.
What do you consider to be the most memorable moment in your career?
I’ve been lucky to have had many amazing career moments. I created a digital media company that began with one YouTube channel out of my parents’ house. I had many of my online interviews go viral. I executive produced the Lifetime show Glam Masters with Kim Kardashian West. Right now, it’s acting. I would say that although I’ve had many amazing moments over the years, nothing compares to those two days when I was on the set of Mob Town. I felt like this was what I was meant to be doing. It took me a long time to pursue this dream. I had to build a lot of confidence to go out there in the arena. I am here doing it, and I’m so glad I didn’t give up.
Tell us about “Mob Town” (out December 13th) and what we can expect from your character.
The movie Mob Town, produced and directed by Danny A. Abeckaser, was acquired by Saban Films. It follows local trooper Ed Croswell (played by David Arquette) as he foils a mafia summit in the rural town of Apalachin, New York, and exposes the mob’s brutal tactics to the world. The cast also includes Jennifer Esposito (Crash) Robert Davi (Die Hard), P.J. Byrne (Big Little Lies) and Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos). I play mob wife Maria, and I am friends with Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s character, Josephine Barbara. My scene is short but very sweet.
Of all the hats you wear (talk show host, actress, social media influencer, etc.), which road has been the most challenging?
Anything you do in life is going to be hard. There will be steep roads ahead, and you must have the tenacity to survive despite the challenges you face. It’s a human experience that we all go through, no matter what type of career we choose. Acting has been the most exciting for me as of yet because it challenges me. I never even knew how to feel my real emotions until I tried acting. You have to be able to confront and portray a lot of the feelings you deal with internally. Sometimes feelings I’ve always wanted to avoid or push to the back burner. I’ve occasionally gone through the motions of life like a robot. Acting has made me slow down and understand people and emotions. I find the work fascinating, and I am excited to be doing more of it.
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?
Yes, my advice is always to do it! Never stop dreaming big, and always believe in yourself. For a long time, I depended on other people’s opinions of myself. If I listened to other people, I probably wouldn’t be acting now. Just because something didn’t work for other people, that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I would advise people to listen to their intuition and follow it. You know what your heart wants, and you must pursue what sets your soul on fire. I like to say, “It’s important to dream big but not be a daydreamer.” If you want to start your own business, it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Nothing good in life comes easily, and you must be ready for a lot of good days and bad. Nothing is constant, and you must be prepared for that — especially in a fast-paced environment like the one we live in today.
Who are your top three fashion designers?
Michael Costello: He is my best friend and one of the best designers in the world. I respect his hustle and drive. Every time I wear his gowns, I feel like a queen; his gowns always flatter my curvy Armenian figure. I wear a lot of his dresses on the red carpet because he gets me and my style. He has also been supporting my career from day one, so I owe it to him to support him. I never forget the people who were there for me from day one; they all have a special place in my heart.
Ralph & Russo: I love their designs, and most recently, I met the designers at Paris Fashion Week. They make great red-carpet looks.
Elie Saab: I love supporting this Lebanese designer since my grandparents are from Lebanon. I love his gowns and ready-to-wear collection. Elie Saab was the first couture runway show I saw in Paris when I was pregnant with Collette, and until this day, I remember how amazing it felt to see his show in person. His gowns are works of art.
What are your top three must-have beauty products for winter?
Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Jackie Aina palette, which I am obsessed with.
My Artist Couture highlighter and my Elcie Cosmetics velvet lip gloss.
Makeup by Mario x Kim K Beauty collab part 2 — I would say to get everything from their collection because Mario and Kim have their finger on the pulse of the beauty world. Also, Mario is a fantastic artist and a great friend, along with Kim, and it’s essential to support your friends in the industry.
“Moms who hustle to raise their kids while ignoring themselves. I wanted to bring the spa to my house. That’s what Diana Madison Beauty is all about.”
Diana stars in the mafia drama Mob Town,” streaming on Netflix.
Follow Diana at:
Photographer: Filbert Kung @filbert_kung
Creative Director: Derek Warburton @derekwarburton
Stylist: Alexis Fallon @alexisfallon_
Makeup: Joseph Alarcon
Hair: Amaran Asylum at Ken Paves salon
Shot on location at The Chamberlain West Hollywood
Special thank you to Rose pr and The GuestHouse Los Feliz