CCM student wins USITT Make-up Design Award

Tiara Jones speaks on her professional successes and CCM experience

Story by CCM Graduate Student Chet Rhodes

The UC College-Conservatory of Music is thrilled to congratulate current masters student Tiara Jones, who was recently named winner of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Young Designers, Managers, and Technician Award for Make-up Design. Jones was recognized as part of the USITT24 Conference and Stage Expo, held in Seattle, Washington, on March 20-23, 2024.

A longstanding pillar of excellence in entertainment design and technology, the United Stated Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) recognizes outstanding young designers, managers and technicians. The awards “honor the best entering our industry, support creative work, recognize lifetime achievement, and celebrate research.”

Tiara Jones at the USITT conference. Photo/Provided

Tiara Jones at the USITT conference. Photo/Provided

“I am very thankful to have incorporated all the work I’ve done as a professional in the industry,” Jones says. She learned of the USITT award very early in her collegiate experience, and has now come full circle, winning the award in the final semester at CCM before she graduates this spring.

A Design and Architectural Studies graduate of UC DAAP, Jones tells of how she ended up pursuing an MFA in Make-up and Wig Design. “Both of my parents attended and met here at the University of Cincinnati, as well as my older sister who took CCM classes, so I have had a long family history at UC as well as in-depth research about the Theatre Design and Production (TDP) program at CCM. I made sure that after I received my bachelor’s degree in design, to go straight into pursuing my Master of Fine Arts at CCM!”

Jones has accomplished much in her time at CCM and is a passionate entrepreneur, licensed cosmetologist, and a well-rounded designer. She has held numerous professional positions, including Wig and Make-up Staff Artist at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico, and she has organized and presented in master classes and workshops. Recently, she was hosted by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s Leading Ladies. “I did a live demonstration on the Old Age Theatrical Makeup Technique,” Jones says. “This gave me so much motivation to continue my pursuits in my craft as well as being able to teach others.”

Tiara Jones. Photo/Provided.

Tiara Jones. Photo/Provided.

“I am very grateful to be the first student in the Make-up and Wig Design program to be an Albert C. Yates Fellowship Recipient,” Jones shares. She also won two CCMpower awards to “develop DEI Events to help with research, conversation, understanding and to better the performing arts.”

Presented by CCM's DEI Committee with support from CCMpower, the award helped fund a "Bridging the Gap" workshop at UC in March 2023. Planned and organized by Jones, the workshop focused on hair and make-up techniques for BIPOC performers. Jones invited guest speaker Jerrilyn Lanier Duckworth to present the "Bridging the Gap" workshop at UC's African American Cultural and Resource Center. Jones is planning another event with the CCMpower award she won in 2024.

“I believe that CCM will help open doors for any TDP student who has embarked on the collegiate journey,” Jones says. “Studying at CCM gives me the creative platform to research and design musicals, operas, and dramas as a Make-up and Wig Design student."

CCM's production of "Once On This Island." Make-up and wig design by Tiara Jones. Photo/Mark Lyons.

CCM's production of "Once On This Island." Make-up and wig design by Tiara Jones. Photo/Mark Lyons.

During her time at CCM, Jones has worked on the design team on many productions, including Once On This Island (musical), Fellow Travelers (opera), Frankenstein (play) and more. CCM's Theatre Design and Production program educates and trains designers and technicians in various disciplines: Make-up and Wig Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design, Stage Design, Props and Scenic Art, Stage Properties, Stage Management and Technical Production.

The MFA program in Make-up and Wig Design There includes various classes on theatre design, productions, business, make-up artistry, wig styling, and much more. "In this program we learn about how to run a production, collaborate with other designers, as well as learn how to develop a character to fit the storyline.” Jones also highlights business and marketing classes that are part of TDP’s curriculum, noting how vital these skills are for artists.

“After all of the hard work that I have put into CCM and my program, I am very excited to see all of the opportunities I will embark on after graduating from CCM.”

Tiara Jones. Photo/Provided.

Tiara Jones. Photo/Provided.

Tiara M. Jones is a licensed cosmetologist, makeup artist, and wig Designer from Alexandria, Virginia. Her professional work has been seen at The Santa Fe Opera, The Carnegie, The Glimmerglass Opera Festival, New York Fashion Week, as well as the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where she will be obtaining her MFA degree in Makeup and Wig Design this Spring 2024. She has designed the wigs and makeup for various productions including Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, She Loves Me, Sunday in the Park with George, Fellow Travelers, and much more. Tiara loves to give back to her community and has held numerous workshops for people to learn about diverse makeup applications and hair prep/styling, including CCM Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs, Glimmerglass Opera Festival, The Santa Fe Opera, as well as conducted a theatrical makeup demo for Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park’s Leading Ladies group at CCM. Tiara has worked with various Broadway wig designers including Broadway’s Wicked Wig Designer, Tom Watson. She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning in Apparel Design with a minor in Architectural Studies. Tiara plans to continue working in the Film, Television, and Theater industry after graduate school as she has numerous design opportunities lined up straight after Graduation.


Each year, CCM Theatre Design and Production faculty and students travel to the national USITT conference. In 2024, MFA Stage Properties student Hattie Fann received a stipend from the Ohio Valley Section of USITT to travel to the conference in Seattle. CCM's USITT student chapter also raised funds to help cover travel costs for students. Three undergrad students (Corvo Hopkins, Mia Teboe and Shelby Allred), 7 graduate students (Clara Cavins, Patrick Kiernan, Tiara Jones, Erin Donnelly, Debbie Heyl, Amber Slater, Kali Ashurst and Fann), and 5 faculty members (Michele Kay, Elizabeth Payne, Emily Porter, Kevin Lawson and Charlie Calvert) attended the conference. 

Learn more about CCM's USITT student chapter.

Featured image at the top: Tiara Jones working on make-up and wig design. Photo/Provided.

Headshot of Chet Rhodes

Chet Rhodes

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Currently a Bassoon Performance master’s student at CCM, Chet received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Utah. He has held positions with the Salt Lake Symphony and the Utah Philharmonia.

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