So here we are.
This past Sunday night, I was called into action as an emergency replacement to be the announcer of the Writer’s Guild Awards ceremony in New York. This sounds glamorous. It was not. (Standing in the cramped, cable-strewn shadows for several hours straight, even in one’s most comfortable cubic zirconiums and chunkiest heels, is not often listed amongst the dreams of high school seniors.)
I had a great time doing it, though, and even with that pinched-nerve feeling in my legs, it was fun. And part of the fun was pretending that wearing lipstick mattered.
Ten years ago this month, I had a similar situation when I was in the City Center Encores! production of Carnival. I was one of two puppeteers. Note: I did not play a puppeteer, I was a puppeteer. Brian Stokes Mitchell played the puppeteer, and because the puppets were Muppet-style (and also because Stokes, while a great guy, is not a puppeteer), it was my job to make it seem as though he was flawlessly puppeteering the characters that he was voicing. In other words, my face was never seen, and my voice was never heard onstage throughout the entire show. I only wiggled the dolls.
(This is how I got my Equity card, by the way.)
And yet, I put on an entire face for it. The whole deal: mascara, liner, lipstick... mostly because I did eventually come onstage for the curtain call. Mind you, I came out for the curtain call holding two large puppets in front of my beautifully made-up face, which did distract more than a bit from my cosmetic handiwork, as I knew it would.
But it wouldn’t have felt real if I hadn’t caked on the spackle pre-show. Makeup is about more than covering flaws or creating a look... to me, sometimes it’s about the ritual and tradition. If I didn’t put on makeup for Carnival, I wouldn’t have felt like I was truly part of the show... or that I’d earned that Equity card.
Just as if I didn’t put on makeup or faux sparklies for the WGA Awards, it wouldn’t have felt like the special event that it was. And that probably would have been reflected - even only subconsciously - in my voice.
People like to envy voiceover artists with a wistful gee, they never have to put on makeup... they can go to work in sweatpants... and sure, I don’t always go to voiceover auditions with a face on. But if I’m lucky enough to book a gig, even if it’s “faceless,” you can bet that I’m putting on lipstick. It respects the job and makes it real.
And hey, audio engineers are people too. They should get to see a nice crimson lip now and then.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.