As an actress, and more recently a writer/filmmaker, walking the red carpet has become par of the course. But I’ll never forget the sickly, daunting feeling I had in early 2010 when my limo pulled up to some Sunset Blvd-something (I was too nervous to notice which Hollywood theatre I was being delivered to) for the premiere of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The publicist took my jacket and purse, and then ushered me onto the long red carpet that was lit up like a Christmas tree on ecstasy, as if casually feeding me to a cage of lions. I remember shuffling in front of what seemed to be a never ending row of ferocious paparazzi photographers who were all calling out my name as if I should recognize who they were as well. The pictures on Jetty Images from that event remain etched in internet history to tell the story.
Last night I walked the red carpet for the opening night event of CinefestOz, a Western Australian film festival, and caught myself marveling at my now relaxed approach as I remembered that little deer in headlights (my former self). I thought I’d put together a “things to know” list for those who are red carpet virgins, like I once was.
1. If you don’t have access to a mirror before you walk the red carpet, be sure to have someone discreetly check your teeth for food, your face for makeup smudges, and straighten out your clothing. There’s nothing worse than bright red lipstick on your front teeth or a skirt that’s travelled west-ward around your waist.
2. Breathe. “The camera doesn’t lie”, so anxiety and fear normally read as clear as day on camera. The greatest favor you can offer yourself on the red carpet is to not forget to breathe.
3. Rather than randomly darting your eyes from photographer to photographer, start from one end of the row of cameras and slowly move your eyes along the line to the other end. They’ll likely call out your name and try to catch your attention out of sequence which may make you a little jumpy, but stick to this line system and you will ensure that everyone gets a clear snap of you. In other words, you’ll seize your moment. This is particularly important if you are walking the carpet with someone else. If you follow no system then you and your red carpet partner will be most likely be posing for different cameras. As if with a partner in crime, allow your eyes to travel together along the line. Team work.
4. Repeat: I am natural I am unique and the camera loves me.
5. While it’s Ok to take a little bit of direction, don’t feel you have to do whatever the photographers tell you to do (“face me!”, “to the side!”, “chin down!”, “over here!”, “big smile!”, “bigger smile!”, “stand really close together!”, “look sexy!”). Remember, they’re just dudes with cameras who have nothing better to do that take pics of you.
6. Don’t take it too seriously. People who see red carpets as if it is their “moment” usually look pretty stupid, and probably need to get a reality check. It’s really all quite silly (smoke and mirrors and all that) so have a sense of humor about it and roll with the punches!