The second that this 10-year-old’s newest project came onto our radar, we knew we had to share her as a FACE of the South. Last month, Farris Benko and her mom Gray, a wildly talented Charleston photographer, launched Farris Does Faces. The project grew out of Farris’s penchant for fun and funky makeup application. For years, Gray documented her daughter’s colorful creations on her Instagram page with the hashtag #FarrisDoesFaces, showing how Farris covered her grandparents and friends and mom’s friends with bright pink lipstick and blue eyeshadow and lots of glitter.
The well-received and much-loved photos led to a project that has been a year in the making. In an effort to teach her daughter about female empowerment and finding her own voice and strength, Gray introduced a new aspect to the makeup application. She and Farris have reached out to dozens of women with inspiring, strong stories to participate in the project. As she applies their makeup, Farris asks these women and role models about their stories, and they impart their wisdom on this 10-year-old girl (a strong, confident 10-year-old, we might add — no doubt thanks to her mother’s example and an intentional project like this!).
Today, we introduce you to the talented makeup artist herself, and she gives us the scoop on the project, her role models and more. Meet our newest FACE of the South: Farris Benko of #FarrisDoesFaces!
Tell us about how Farris Does Faces got started.
Well, I started doing makeup when I was a really little kid. I just kept doing people’s makeup, so my mom got this BIG idea that we could start this series. Now, I do makeup on women and learn their stories and their advice.
Who are some of the women you featured so far?
I did Kacey Musgraves’s makeup! It was VERY … well, I was very nervous, but it was fun. I realized she was just a person … and a really nice one! I went to her concert after and it was my first concert ever. It was so cool!
I also loved Emily Gray who was a paralytic swimmer.
If anyone in the world could do your makeup, who would you choose?
Taylor Swift! And Ellen, for sure. (Gray laughs, “She’s been obsessed with Ellen since she was a baby!”)
What’s the coolest thing you have learned about someone since you started?
Ummmmmm. Well, the astronaut (Nicole Stott) told me about how they go to the bathroom in space. They strap themselves down so they don’t float away!
What do you think it means to be a strong woman?
It means not being afraid and following your gut … not letting fear stop you from reaching your dreams.
Speaking of dreams, what do you want to be when you grow up?
An actress and a lawyer and an artist and a director and a fashion designer and a CEO
Who is a woman you admire and why?
My mom. How much she got me into this and how much she’s done to help me.
Who is your dream guest of Farris Does Faces?
A lot. Dolly Parton!!!! I love Dolly.
And, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lizzo, Ellen, and … so many!
What else do you like to do?
Acting and drawing.
What is something that might surprise others to learn about you?
My spirit animal is a turtle.
What is your favorite food?
Pizza. Oh, ice cream! Ice cream! Ice cream! (From Gray: “It rules her life.”)
What was the coolest part about being on the “Today” show last week?
Getting to meet all of those cool people! The hosts were so nice.
What are your big goals for Farris Does Faces?
We really want to turn it into a book! A coffee table book that we could hold in our hands.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?
Wear more crop tops. That’s what Jenny Mollen told me. Be yourself, be kind, and just start. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re gonna do, just start. Do something small every day.
Do you have any of your own advice you’d like to share with us?
Be yourself and don’t let anybody hold you back!
What are three things you couldn’t live without (besides faith, family and friends)?
Ice cream. I could not live without ice cream. I couldn’t live without paint or pencils. And I couldn’t live without animals.
Thanks so much, Farris! We can’t wait to see what’s next for this fun project. All photos taken by Gray Benko.
For more inspiring FACES of the South, visit our archives Farris Does Faces.