Red carpet confessions from Pittsburgh entertainment insiders
February 26, 2017 12:00 AM
The red carpet at the Academy Awards is long. It can take celebrities about an hour to make it through, stopping to pose for photos and chat with media along the way.
Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images
Artists paint Oscar statues for the 89th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. "It’s a huge production, and you don’t really get that sense of it when you’re seeing it in a photo or a segment. You don’t get a sense of how big it really is," says Curtis Kelly, senior vice president east coast director of BrandLink Communications.
Sarah Silverman in the press room at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Celebrity makeup artist Brett Freedman, a Monroeville native, will be helping the actress and comedian get ready for the Academy Awards this year.
By Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
For fans of film and fashion, the Academy Awards is the epitome of entertainment. How often do we get to see our favorite stars dressed to the nines all in one place?
But there’s lots that we don’t see that goes into making the night oh-so-glamorous, from the red carpet arrivals to the after-parties that cap the occasion. To gear up for tonight’s Oscars, three Pittsburgh natives who work in the entertainment and fashion/beauty industries share some behind-the-scenes secrets.
Celebrity manicurist Casey Hermanis a Clinton native now based in New York City. She’s done nails for New York Fashion Week, magazine shoots, fashion campaigns and red carpet events and has worked with Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet, Drew Barrymore and Michelle Williams. See her work @CaseyNails on Instagram.
Undercover celebrities: The stars like to get hotel rooms near where they have to go. Everyone is staying under crazy, funny pseudonyms. That can get awkward.
All hands on deck: Normally we have a couple of hours [to get a celebrity ready]. It’s a lot of multitaksing. The stylist is getting their stuff ready, and they’re waiting for jewelry. Hair, makeup and nails are all getting done at the same time. It’s probably not as relaxing as a spa mani/pedi situation. It’s usually a little more abbreviated treatments.
Be prepared: I might get a heads-up about if a person has gel or acrylic nails. Basically when I go to do a job I’m ready for anything. I show up with literally hundreds of bottles of polish in different colors. Because it has to dry, I really have to get it done as quickly as possible. Then they have to get dressed. If the nails aren't completely dry, a lot of times I’ll have to gift the polish to them so at least they can touch it up.
Brett Freedman (pictured below) is a Los Angeles-based makeup artist who grew up in Monroeville. He has his own line of brow products and is the creative director for Reba McEntire’s makeup collection. For this year’s Academy Awards, he will be working with comedian/actress Sarah Silverman ... so far.
(Courtesy of Brett Freedman Beauty)
It all starts with the dress: Once the color and shape or style of the dress is chosen, the talk of hair is next. Is the hair up or down? What styles does the actress like? Does the actress have a high forehead? What hairstyles has she worn before? You don’t want anything similar. Very styled, polished looks can give a simple black dress interest. A pattern or busy dress would call for a simpler hairstyle. Once the dress and hair are nailed down, talk of makeup comes into play. Play up eyes or lips? A bold eye and a pale lip are always flattering. It may get boring, but that look is a safe and always pretty go-to.
Myths and misconceptions: The red carpet is long! The bigger the event, the longer they will move from the photographer bank or interviewer to the next. The Oscars red carpet can go as long as an hour. I think the biggest misconception is that it’s tense and the actresses are jittery. Not the case. We leave extra time so the glam time can be nicely paced.
Don’t over do it: It’s not uncommon to style more than one person [for a red carpet]. I generally only do two, max — one before the show and a second for the parties. Once, years ago, I did five people. I started with a Euro reporter in the morning and packed up and jetted to the next until 9 p.m. This is when I was starting my career and a little more scrappy.
Curtis Kelly grew up minutes away from Ross Park Mall. Now he lives in one of the fashion capitals of the world, New York City. He’s worked in public relations for six years, during which time he’s been part of red carpet events connected to the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the Coachella music festival. He’s the senior vice president east coast director for BrandLink Communications, a firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles.
Curtis Kelly (Photo by Sean Gnomes)
Red carpet politics: For public relations teams, it’s a balancing act. It’s making sure that all of your press is getting what they need, but also making sure all of the talent is happy. You want it to be fun for everyone. That can be challenging sometimes. You’ll have aggressive celebrities who don’t want to walk the carpet or aggressive press that wants to ask a bunch of questions. It’s a huge production, and you don’t really get that sense of it when you’re seeing it in a photo or a segment. You don’t get a sense of how big it really is.
No comment: If it’s more of a gossip media outlet, celebrities will tend to not speak to that publication or they’ll request to have those questions approved ahead of time. It’s not an uncommon practice. Usually the larger the event, something like the Oscars, there is a ton of celebrities and 10 times the amount of press, so it’s nearly impossible to field all of those requests.
RSVP, please: Depending upon the event, you’ll have someone who is the “celebrity wrangler.” That person is very well connected in Hollywood, and they’ll extend invitations to parties and to walk the red carpet. Sometimes celebrities are paid to attend the parties, depending upon the size of the party. The Oscars is a little different. In that situation, you’re actually having people turning other people away. It all depends on the clout of the event.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG. For more fashion coverage, visit the Stylebook blog at www.post-gazette.com/Stylebook.
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