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Music video director Hannah Lux Davis went from doing makeup to breaking records with Ariana Grande

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Ariana Grande's music video director used these 2 tricks to land gigs

Lil Wayne would be rapping in an underwater bedroom.

This was the concept that put Hannah Lux Davis on the map as a music video director when the video for "Love Me" was released in 2013.

In the years since, the 32-year-old director has worked with top artists like Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande. Davis directed Grande's "Thank U, Next " video, which broke YouTube's record for most views within 24 hours of release, according to Billboard.

But before she was writing creative treatments for Wayne and smashing records with Grande, Davis says she had to create opportunities for herself. "There was a time when I literally said yes to everything," Davis tells CNBC Make It.

Director Hannah Lux Davis on the set of Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" music video
Alfredo Flores

When she first started directing in film school, Davis would self-fund her projects. By covering costs for the artists she worked with, Davis says she was able to create more music videos and use them as calling cards.

After film school, Davis worked as a production assistant on music videos and commercials, but she says she found that role wasn't setting her up for success. An entry-level position, production assistants can be responsible for tasks like getting coffee, shuttling crew and equipment or making copies. Davis felt it "was not going to be the path for me to sort of continue to grow or really get into the conversations with the people I needed to be in conversation with."

A person who could have those conversations, Davis noticed, was the on-set makeup artist.

She decided to go to cosmetology school and use the role to gain better access. "I would do their makeup, and I would have creative conversations with the people on set, regarding my job. I wasn't like going out there and like scoping out as a director."

It was while she was doing makeup on a set that Davis met a commissioner, someone who works with record labels to hire production companies and directors. She had been helping out with more than just makeup on set, and the commissioner was impressed by her work ethic. "He ended up giving me the opportunity to write a treatment for an artist named Lil Wayne."

Enter the underwater bedroom idea. Convinced she wasn't going to book the gig, Davis submitted what she calls a "balls to the wall, here's like a word vomit of ideas" treatment.

"He ended up really loving it," Davis says. "Wayne ended up really loving the idea."

After that, one collaboration led to another: Lil Wayne, Drake and Future; Ciara and Nicki Minaj; Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and Ariana Grande. Davis says it all comes back to her willingness to try anything starting out.

Music video director Hannah Lux Davis has collaborated with top artists like Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Lil Wayne.
Hannah Lux Davis

"I know it sounds crazy, but saying yes to everything and just being like, 'How can I help you? How can I help you?' because it only is just going to give you more experience under your belt, and you're able to make friends," Davis says.

Career expert and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch says that making genuine friends is a far superior long-term professional strategy to the traditional networking tactic of handing out business cards. "Human beings help friends, not 'contacts,'" Welch says. "Focus your energy on forging authentic business relationships."

"It really does all come back around," Davis says. "Karma is real, and it's just really good to just have a good attitude, no matter what job you have."

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