Music

Meet TNT, the Glam Squad Behind Countless Latin Music Stars: ‘We Have to Create Something That You Cannot Do Yourself’

In our franchise “The Stars Behind the Stars,” Billboard Latin and Billboard Español editors share stories that have yet to be told, directly from those who aren’t often in front of the spotlight. Think “todo lo que no se ve detrás de cámaras,” or “everything that happens behind the scenes.” These unsung heroes are essential to an artist’s team and its foundation. Today, we highlight the founders of TNT Agency, Hector and Alejandra Barraza.

Hector and Alejandra Barraza were young entrepreneurs in Chino Hills, Calif., then they came up with their big idea. Hector, whose background is in marketing and sales, worked training salespeople. His wife Alejandra, a cosmetologist, borrowed one of his spaces to give a makeup class.

“It was my aha moment,” Hector says. “With my background and experience in marketing, we put together a nice package to market classes, and we became a makeup school.”

At the same time, Alejandra began to provide makeup services for a growing roster of clients. When she could no longer do it alone, she started to train other glam artists. And so, TNT Agency was born.

Today, 20 years later, TNT is “the premiere glam agency for Latin Grammys, Billboard Latin Music Awards, SESAC Latina and even the general market Grammys,” says Hector. Artists and teams who’ve walked those red carpets have no doubt seen the TNT squad: some 20-30 young women dressed in matching uniforms, all looking like a million bucks and armed with their glam gear.

Hector, the agency’s beauty director, is in charge of marshaling the troops and sending artists to wherever they’re needed. It’s a unique scenario, he says. By calling one person — himself — a client can get up to 45 makeup artists dispatched. Alejandra trains the team, and all glam artists have to undergo TNT training before they can join the agency at an event or gig. All use the same products and protocol.

TNT trains approximately 600 individuals a year, who come from all over the country to TNT’s headquarters in Chino. This allows Hector, in turn, to offer services to clients in most major U.S. cities. In addition, TNT has added a third component to its services: It produces its own cosmetics under the TNT brand.

On the eve of the 2024 Latin American Music Awards in Las Vegas, Barraza — this month’s “Star Behind the Stars” — told us the story behind TNT, what sets the agency apart, and what are the new trends in makeup.

Growing from gigs to an agency of this size sounds daunting. What was your big break?

The agency became very popular because we started to do beauty segments on Univision’s KMEX station in Los Angeles. Every Wednesday at 5 am Alejandra had a beauty segment called “Eternamente Bella (Eternally Beautiful).” And this is where we started to meet interesting people in Los Angeles like Cristy Solís, Marco Antonio’s wife. One thing led to another. The world of networking works, and we ended up in really cool peoples’ homes. And these people had people who produced shows, and that’s how we got some pretty big breaks, providing glam services for artists and then executives and then the production.

How much time do I need to look beautiful for a show?

All our artists do makeup and hair. A full service, one glam artist, is about an hour and a half. Our glam is very personal. What I might think looks good on you, you might hate. So we tailor every look to the client. What is it you like and what do you feel comfortable with? And our job is to take it up a few levels. We have to create something in your style that you cannot do yourself. Otherwise why hire us? That’s why people tell us, “I could never do this.” That’s exactly why you contact us.

What is the TNT touch?

It’s a flawless finish. It’s supposed to look very natural. You will look polished. There’s so much that can go wrong in a makeup application.

Has anything changed dramatically in the glam world in the past few years?

This is fashion so it’s always changing. The way you do your brows is not the way you did it three years ago. You have to be up to date on trends. There are two worlds: Social media and production and we dabble on both. It changes rapidly because this is very what’s on trend and how you incorporate it. What you see on TikTok you can’t necessarily apply in real life.

Newest trend?

Cream blush is probably the hottest thing out there. It’s light, it goes easy on the skin, it’s glowy, it’s smooth. Cream blush is the thing. People are putting it on their cheeks, on their nose. People of all ages are using it. From the 13 year old to the older individual because it’s not drying.

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