My mommy friends and I often plan events to satisfy both our mommy obligations as well as our mommy needs–hence the holiday parties for our children in addition to ‘mommy’s night out.’ In October of 2011, I hosted a Halloween party for the kids at a local restaurant. The party was a nice mix of good friends and new acquaintances.
One of my new friends introduced me to her husband, Peter. Peter was very friendly and mentioned that his wife told him that I was a celebrity make-up artist. Turns out Peter is the part owner of a production company, P3 Entertainment. In addition to being a partner and lead editor, Peter’s role is to oversee all of P3’s projects and develop new ones. We talked for a while and he expressed an interest in branching out and trying to develop a show that involved the beauty industry. I told him about me and the surgery and the PTSD. I told him about my idea to do a show that went beyond doing makeovers for people who simply had bad hair color and made bad fashion choices. He handed me his card and said that he would reach out to me sometime soon. At that time, I took his words with a grain of salt. I have worked in this industry for a long time and I am used to people blowing smoke up my ass.
You can imagine my surprise when Peter emailed me a couple of days later:
It was great meeting you on Sunday. Thanks for organizing the party. We had a blast.
I was talking to my partners about your idea of doing makeovers for cancer and other patients and it is really resonating with us. My production partner knows someone who works with cancer patients as a nurse at a local hospital. We were talking to him yesterday and he said breast cancer patients participate most in this kind of work. There is a program funded by a charity. They come to cancer centers and give women tips on applying makeup. This type of ‘intervention’ is done during treatment, usually after they lose their hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and feel bad mentally, as well as physically. The loss of hair usually occurs at 2 weeks post first treatment. And then it doesn’t grow back for months after treatment so it can be a very long time.
I think you are really onto something here. It would be a great show that would actually benefit society as opposed to the numerous reality shows out there now.
I know you have been doing this on your own, but if you want a production partner, we would love to develop this with you. We produce, shoot and edit our own pitch tapes so we could do one for this if you wanted.
Let me know what you think
Thanks and hope all is well.
Well I’ll be damned! I thought. Finally someone in this business that is true to his word. Finally, someone thinks we can possibly sell a show about helping people rather than exploiting them.
I met with Peter and his partners at P3 several days later. Within four weeks a production agreement was signed. Initially we thought about doing a casting call or asking one of the cancer patients to participate, but I thought the MacPherson’s story was captivating. Plus, since I had a personal connection to them, I knew that I could really give my best to filming the pilot episode.
Peter explained that we were going to make a sizzle reel. A sizzle reel is a 2 – 5 minute video that highlights what a show is all about, its purpose and its passion. A sizzle reel is intended to be a ‘tease’, to leave viewers wanting more. This is what we would show to networks when we were pitching our idea.
I emailed Christine after Thanksgiving. I had to tell her a few little white lies, but they were all for a good reason. I told Christine that I was being given the opportunity to film a pilot for my own TV show about women coping with life-altering circumstances. I asked her if she would consider filming with me to help me produce my sizzle reel. Christine was so excited! I didn’t tell her about the makeover portion of the program. I explained to Christine that with my show, I wanted to take a real inside look at how families come to terms with a difficult circumstance and what they do to move forward. I also thought it would be a great way for her to promote her non-profit charity, The Butterfly Mission. It was hard to keep the makeover portion a secret from Christine, but I really wanted to surprise her.
From looking at her Facebook posts since 2009 until the filming, I could see that she had begun to care a bit less about her appearance–no doubt as a result of the stress. Still, Christine is a beautiful woman who possesses a kind of beauty any woman can be envious of. She can roll out of bed, throw her hair in a ponytail, put on some sweats and look great. We should all be so lucky. I love make-up but I also need it too. I need concealer. I need to highlight, blend and blush my way to looking like a natural beauty. Christine is a girly girl who loves make-up too, but Mikey’s diagnosis left her feeling like she didn’t deserve or need to treat herself to frivolous pampering. She felt like these were shallow and unnecessary wants, not needs. All she wanted to do was to help her son. Rightfully so, she had committed herself to advocating for Mikey and on behalf of other families who have children with Autism. But, in the process, she had given up on doing things for herself. I decided it was time to remind Christine that treating herself to a haircut and a new lipstick every now and then was okay.
I started rallying my troops. I called my friend Shawn Salim, a celebrity hairdresser and a stylist at Pipino Salon in New York. I also contacted a fashion stylist. I emailed Michael, Christine’s husband, to tell him about the plan. I was nervous to spill the beans to him because I know how hard it is for spouses to keep secrets from each other. I didn’t hear from him for a few days and I got worried that he might be totally against the idea. Turns out my email ended up in his spam folder. He emailed me a few days later and told me he loved the idea and he was excited.
Peter and I decided to film the pilot over a two-day period in January. It was too much work for me to try to cram everything into one day. Not only was there to be a hair, make-up and clothing intervention, but most importantly, we needed to tell their story. I wanted to show the world the reality of day-to-day life for a family with an Autistic child.
I spent three weeks preparing for the interview. I watched several YouTube videos about Autism. I was shocked at how many videos seemed to highlight only the negative aspects of raising a child with Autism. There seemed to be very few that truly told the stories of each family in a way that didn’t leave you feeling sorry for them.
It was important for me to tell their story with dignity, grace and compassion. I wanted to show the world that there were millions of people coping with life altering circumstances who like the MacPherson’s, made a choice to dwell in a place of love.
The MacPherson’s and families like them deserve to have their stories told.