Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm Ready for My Close Up

When I got called in for a sitcom audition one of the things my acting coach told me to do was to find the M.A.C. store nearest to my audition and have them do my makeup. No, he was not suggesting that I’m heinous but there’s pretty and then there’s Primetime-TV pretty. Depending on the role it’s either go glam or go home. Actually it’s a weird combination of glam-natural; an effortless beauty that’s not all that easy to pull off in HD.

In general I’m late to the makeup game. For years I was making it happen with chapstick and a smile. But being on camera requires a lil’ bit mo. I’ve become more comfortable wearing makeup and competent applying it but I know my limits. On the morning of the audition I did the best I could at home and followed my coach’s advice. 

There was a M.A.C. store right across the street from my audition. I went in extra early, sans appointment, and threw myself on the mercy of the makeup brush. That’s when I met Azana. You know how you expect a personal trainer to be fit, a hairstylist to have a great haircut, and a doctor to be a healthy non-smoker who can run 10 miles a day and walk with a B12 bounce? Well Azana was the makeup artist version of all that. She was gorgeous. Her makeup? Flawless. Her personality? Warm and engaging.

She asked me what time my audition was. I told her I had to be there in an hour. She said she only needed 20 minutes, handed me some make up wipes, and instructed me to take off all the makeup I had painstakingly put on. I was kinda hurt because I didn’t think I’d done too bad of a job. I just needed a little umph. But you can’t ask for help and then dictate how someone gives it to you. If she wanted a fresh palette to work her magic, I was not going to argue.

As I wiped off my best efforts, Azana moved smoothly around the store assembling the tools she needed. She not only asked me about my skin type and how I normally liked to look, she also asked me about the character I was playing. Her questions did not feel random. In fact, I felt like my answers informed the choices she was making on what to use on me. Without me saying anything Azana totally got the whole glam-natural thing and that makeup, good makeup, should enhance not overwhelm. But of course she did. She was a walking example of it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. All makeup artists, especially working at a store like M.A.C., look like that. Um, no. No they don’t. Sometimes what people can do for others they cannot necessarily do for themselves, and vice versa. There was no guarantee that Azana would do as good a job on me as she had done on herself. This was our first time meeting each other. I was essentially, trusting a stranger.

But Azana and I talked as she worked and the stranger status diminished significantly. As the conversation became more personal I think we were both surprised at how much our lives overlapped: travel, college, grad school course of study, work ethic. Two jobs and going to school? How do you not admire that kind of hustle? Yes, we were even comparing the quality of various campus parties from our undergrad days; mine admittedly a little further behind me then hers. As our life intersections grew I wondered, how are we not already friends?

This was not an idle gabfest. Azana’s brushes were steady moving, and she periodically checked in with me to make sure we were still doing good on time. When she was finished she held up a hand mirror and said, “What do you think?” I was flabbergasted. I was like, “Wow. I’d go out with me.” What impressed me the most was that I still looked like me and not some unrealistic runway, circus clown version of me.

As I was leaving the store, everyone wished me luck. I walked out looking and feeling fabulous, which is how one should feel when going on an audition. Scratch that. That’s how one should feel period. I don’t yet have the skill to recreate what Azana did for me, and I’m okay with that. I’m just glad to know that it can be done, especially now by a friend.

The Urban Erma, the longest running column on, was created and written by stand-up comedian Leighann LordListen to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher RadioWatch the video edition on YouTube.comIf you enjoy The Urban Erma please leave a comment, Like it on Facebook, follow on Twitter, And share it with your friends. (Share it with people who are not your friends and maybe they will be.) Get her free e-books of The Great Spanx Experiment and Sometimes I Wish Facebook Had a Hate Button. 

1 comment:

Lorna with Sisterlocks said...

You look gorgeous. You and I are not far apart in terms of complexion and MAC is the only makeup I wear. Women of color have a helluva time finding makeup that does not look pasty or red or just wrong. I'd like to see you write about that as a blog article .