When we see red-carpet spreads in magazines, we are often left with feelings of inferiority. The women's dresses have haute couture labels, and the men's suits are tapered to the millimeter. Awards nominees look better on camera than we could ever dream for ourselves.
After the show, we see recaps on television telling us why so-and-so’s dress was all wrong, even if we thought it was amazing. Or someone gets caught on camera scratching an itch — or any number of other faux pas — and the whole world talks about it for an entire week. It’s a little intimidating.
My first red-carpet event took place this past weekend, at the SAG Awards in Los Angeles. I, like yourself, had many predispositions about how the nominees and their companions might appear and behave throughout the event. I'm happy to report, though, that my experience could not have been further from my worries.
I’m going to bust a few myths and dish the truth about celebs on the red carpet.
Right down to their makeup. Whatever filter television networks and film crews use when shooting, I need to get one. How they manage to sprinkle fairy dust just so around these stars as they’re being filmed is truly a feat. The truth, however, is they look just like our neighbors, our friends and even our family members. They may even have a few hairs out of place, an eyelash on a cheek or a crooked tie.
To break the age-old fallacy about the camera adding 10 pounds, I can tell you with certainty it does not. Every honoree and presenter I saw looked precisely the same size as their onscreen alter egos. Thanks to the magic of high definition, what you see is what you get.
Contrary to what one might expect red-carpet behavior to be, stars did not turn their backs to others in favor of a momentary limelight, to participate in E! interviews or to make sure their "good sides" were facing the cameras. At the mere shout of a first name, many headed directly to admirers to chat, shake hands, sign autographs and take pictures. For the most part, all were very warm and receptive to the attention and affection they received.
Attendees were just as excited as fans to see the nominees. It wasn't above or beneath entertainment journalists to whip out their own phone to snap pics of a nominee alongside professional cameras. (Oh, the cameras! Have I mentioned the number of cameras at this event?) Nor was it taboo for any of them to take selfies, "us-ies" or group shots — something I did not expect to see. It was a lot closer to real life than I imagined.
One thing I loved most about the SAGs red carpet was the affection shown — the belly laughs, the smiles, the physical connectedness — among nominees, their friends and their families. They gave real hugs, unconcerned about whether their outfits would wrinkle or their makeup would smudge. Some gave strong pats on shoulders to their friends. Some even high-fived in approval of others' fashion choices.
Stars were confused, unsure of correct entrances and exits and lost people with whom they'd arrived. Some blew past interviewers entirely to get inside in the interest of saving time. They craned their necks to see over those in front of them, they tripped on the bottoms of their dresses — just like we do — and tried to right themselves when their shoes took them off balance. Their minds (and feet) didn’t seem to operate any differently than ours.
As they say, we all put on our pants one leg at a time.
Not once did I see a dismissive wave, a dirty look or a celeb turn his back on someone beckoning his attention. If a reporter introduced himself and asked for a few moments’ time, the stars were more than obliging. As I mentioned, many headed straight over to the bleacher seats to greet fans, family and friends. There was no sneering, cattiness or pettiness between the nominees, as some sources might have us believe.
I was relieved to see that. That’s not to say no one appears to have had work done, because that would be clearly untrue. But close up — and I mean really close up — I had the pleasure of seeing many wrinkles, crow’s feet, jiggly thighs and untoned triceps. And for that, I couldn’t be happier. Let’s face it: Some standards set by the film and TV industry are impossible to achieve. The physical diversity of the nominees was a refreshing reflection of real life.
There were no peacocks at this affair. No one strutted along the red carpet, sashayed, or otherwise worked it, even when they were wearing the most stunning dresses. They behaved like any one of us would, smiling, hunching, leaning, shifting and sporting their very own trademark looks. This affair was neither a fashion show nor a beauty pageant. Every honoree I saw shined with his or her own unique brand of beauty.
Many times throughout the afternoon, I heard nominees thanking fans, family and friends for coming out to support them. The nominees were as humble on camera as off. And the winners were as gracious during their acceptance speeches as they were before they entered L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium.
So, there you have it, folks. Stars are just like us — awkward, friendly, disheveled, humble, unique, kind and funny. But maybe just a little more famous.
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