‘The Lion King’ Makeup Artist Transforms WJZ Anchor Into Rafiki

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— “The Lion King” has roared into Baltimore, delighting crowds at the Hippodrome through January.

Mary Bubala gives us an inside look at what it takes to become one of the most popular characters in the musical.

Rafiki opens the Lion King with that powerful and beloved song: “It’s the circle of life …”

But before the sun rises and the animals are called to Pride Rock, Rafiki must get her makeup on.

Makeup artist Valerie Anderson has been doing Rafiki for three years. Through the power of makeup and her finely crafted skills, she can transform your 5 o’clock anchor into Rafiki.

She uses bright, water-based paints.

“Rafiki is basically the primary colors: red, yellow and blue, a little white,” Anderson said.

“It feels like I am getting a clay, mud mask, or something like that,” Bubala said.

Anderson uses precise strokes to create what looks like an intricate mask.

“Rafiki is basically the shaman, the wise woman, and all of it is very tribal markings and precise lines,” Anderson said.

The process of transforming into Rafiki takes more than 30 minutes, and dozens of special techniques are used to get just the right look.

The final touch is false eyelashes.

Starting with a very plain canvas, paint strokes fill in Bubala’s face until the transformation is complete.

And now that she sort of looks like Rafiki, she should sing like her, too, right?

Anderson does her best to coach, but in the end…

“I can’t do it,” Bubala said. “I can look like her, but I can’t sound like her.”

“The Lion King” is here through Sunday, Jan. 8. Tickets are limited but still available, including performances on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at 6:30 p.m.

More from Mary Bubala
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