"As a dancer, I'm pretty much self-taught. When I was younger I took ballet, tap, and jazz for about a year, but I hated it—I didn't like being told what to do and how to move. But I fell in love with hip-hop. I used to make up routines just for fun, or I'd learn choreography from music video clips, and I'd dance in my room. Hip-hop is just freeing. It's very much about making it your own, and doing it how you want to do it. The more unique you are, the more you're appreciated and celebrated. When you find something that gives you that purpose, you can't turn it off. It's always calling you.
So when I was 15, I dropped out of school and started my dance crew, ReQuest—that's the group that was with me in Justin Bieber's "Sorry" music video, so they've been with me a long time. At first it was just for fun 'cause there wasn't anywhere I could really dance in Auckland, which is where I'm from and where I live now. We would just perform for free wherever we could, at festivals and places like that. I would choregraph the routines, mix the music, and then we'd perform it. It grew from there... We did America's Next Best Dance Crew and Dancing With The Stars, but it wasn't until I was 21 that I started getting noticed by bigger collaborators. Am I old? [Laughs] The first big collaboration was with J.Lo. Her management called me because they saw my work on Youtube and they wanted me to work on her tour. I died. They were like, ‘Can you come next week?’ And I was like ‘Yeah!’ Next thing you know I’m doing three or four numbers for her world tour and I haven’t stopped since.
I'm inspired by a lot of artists, especially in terms of style. I always loved when Lil Kim color-blocked—it never looked random. And Missy [Elliott] and her Adidas, she was never afraid to look like a tomboy. I like to look different. Like, I shaved my head when I was 18 and I was bald all the way up 'til last year. Only recently did I start growing my hair back. I like the idea of being bald because it made me feel free and I felt like a rebel. It was very empowering to me to be bald but still be a woman and still be hot. It was probably one of the best things I’d ever done. And if you asked me if I wanted to shave my head today, I would probably do it again.
Since I've been growing it out, though, I've been bleaching it. I get the roots retouched every few weeks by a guy back home in Auckland. He's so good. I never have to tone it, he's that good! I use Olaplex and just leave that in overnight once or twice a week, if I feel like it's really going through it. But I like it like this. I never want to look like anybody else—I'm not afraid to take a risk.
I represent how I feel through colors. Like, hair, or clothing, or makeup, it's such a cool way to express how you feel. And I'm obsessed with makeup. My foundation is Mac Studio Fix Fluid in NC37, and when I dance, it does not move. The MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC35 doesn't move at all either. When I perform I’ll use the MAC Blush in Frankly Scarlet, which is pretty harsh for every day but looks great on stage. And then—have you heard of banana powder? It’s kind of like a finishing powder with a yellow base, so you look more glowy rather than a paint base. That looks great on my skin. My bronzer is MAC Give Me Sun Mineralize Skinfinish. I like it because it’s not too shimmery. It's gonna look nice and natural if want to tan my legs real quick. I don't have all my brushes with me, but I have this Sephora Pro-Featherweight Powder Brush for body stuff.
This is the key to life—Benefit Brow Zings in Dark. Everyone is all about brows these days, and this is so natural. I just comb them and use the Brow Zings, and then I use this Anastasia Brow Brush to fill in—a light shade for every day and a dark shade for performing. MAC Brow Set is also really cool. Filling in brows really stresses me out when I can't nail it, but that's so easy to use. I just bought Lancôme Grandiose Mascara and it’s so nice. I like it for the bottom lashes especially—they must have designed it that way? On stage I'll do a fake lash, and MAC makes big dramatic ones which I love.
All that you really need to know is that MAC Ruby Woo is the most important lip color and it's the color of life. It’s what I was wearing in the "Sorry" video. I like that it’s a little dry, I love that it’s not gonna move or be glossy or anything like that. And the shade of it is also really nice. I think it suits any tone and I’ve tried a lot of reds, but this is still my favorite. If I’m trying to be precise, I just line with MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Kiss Me Quick and then fill it in.
All Murad. Since I was 16, I had really bad acne—my whole family did—but I got put on Accutane and that knocked it out for me. Your skin goes dry, but it's worth it, instead of having acne for the rest of your life. I still have to stay on top of it, though, and Murad is the strongest stuff I can find that isn't too harsh. I just think it's a really dope brand, especially for people with acne-prone skin. I use the Essential-C Cleanser, Toner, and Day Moisture, which is SPF 30+. My sister is 28 and she still gets acne, and I bought her the Murad, and it cleared her skin right up.
For the past two weeks, I've been really good about using this Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask, it's a mud mask and I think it's all natural. I was using it for the VMAs, and it's incredible! I don't have time for other things, which is why the mask is so good, because you're just chillin'.
I always get acrylics and gel, that way they never go anywhere. One week they might be green, another they might be pink... It’s however I’m feeling. And always this shape, the cat nail. I got into it when one of my girls turned up to practice with her nails like this and I thought it was so sick. I just thought it matches my personality. Don’t mess with me, I’ll scratch you out. [Laughs] Somebody just asked me why I do my nails like this, and I told them, if someone comes too close... [Shing]"
—as told to ITG
Parris Goebel photographed by Tom Newton in New York on September 1, 2016.