Maybelline New York held its press launch earlier this month featuring their latest matte products: White Superfresh Liquid Powder, Hypermatte Liquid Liner, and Creamy Matte Lipstick. The event also featured the finalists for the #MaybellineNYFW #MakeItHappen campaign. Our final challenge was to do a five-minute interview with Maybelline spokesperson Georgina Wilson. Continue reading to watch the video and find out what went down behind the scenes.
New York-themed songs from an eclectic Spotify playlist are blasting one by one on seamless crossfade, backed by the hum of the AC. The smell of brewing coffee intermingles with the green tea droplets percolating in the humidifier. It is a clear morning: outside, the sun is perched on one of Ortigas’ skyscrapers, preparing to rise higher and scorch cars and city-dwellers in bright heat. From my window thirty stories high, everyone below walks like they have a plan. I don’t. Not yet.
I am interviewing Georgina Wilson later today at a Maybelline New York press event. The global beauty brand launched the #MaybellineNYFW #MakeItHappen campaign last September. Part of it was a blogging contest, and I’ve made it to the Top 15. The grand winner goes to New York Fashion Week as Maybelline’s official correspondent, so today, finalists are doing a sit-down with the doll-faced endorser in a showcase of skills.
In my room, I sit surrounded by my blogging gadgets and Maybelline makeup. Outfit options hang on the arm of a nearby chair. The laptop screen shows a list of questions I can ask Georgina: How was New York Fashion Week? What’s your Maybelline must-have? When did you first realize you’ve made it? Where do you see your career headed a few years from now? Who inspires you to achieve? Any motivational advice for girls who want to follow in your footsteps?
The cursor has been blinking for twelve songs. Is that it? Maybe something more memorable? Blink. Blink. Blink. A dozen others will ask her these. Blink. Blink. Incorporate the branding in those five minutes, too. Blink. Blink. Blink. You need to shower. Right. As the first few beats of Alicia Keys and Jay-Z drop, I concede and grab a towel.
As my panicked thoughts drift in the soap suds and foamy steam, a most wonderful cliché of clichés happen: I get my idea in the shower.
Welcome to New York
I arrive with Anton at Whitespace three hours early to secure the first interview slot and scope out the venue. There are cardboard icons of the Big Apple: skyscrapers, the Brooklyn Bridge, street signs.
On Superfresh Avenue, a pop-up counter features Maybelline White Superfresh products alongside competing brands of two-way cake foundations below P400 for the Ultimatte Face-Off, to be tested for staying power against oil and sweat.
EyeLoveMNY Avenue spotlights the Hypercurl Volum’ Express waterproof mascara and the Hypermatte Liquid Liner, Maybelline’s latest eye innovation for intense matte black.
Creamy Mattes Avenue displays Maybelline’s matte lipsticks for the Mad About Matte Lips Showdown against competing brands under P1,000.
In the center of the hall is a talk-show set: backdrop, LED screen, couch. My instincts as a producer for GMA and ETC kick in. Main camera here. Supporting camera from that angle. Redhead on this side. Reflector there. Second redhead as hair light. Check if recording works, set color balance, test the lapel mics. But today, I’m not here bringing my legit equipment and production team. I am here bringing my game, to show what I am capable of doing if I am sent to New York. More content than form.
We bring out my “videography gear” (Sony A6000 digital camera and Samsung Note 5) and place them on cocktail tables, propped up by the glasses from which we had just drunk iced tea. We test the “mic” (iPhone 6S) to be placed on the sofa. Guests trickle in as we set up, a perceptible buzz of overlapping conversations slowly filling the room. A lady in black uniform comes up to us offering a smile, crostini, and macaroni from Cibo di M. Aha, Little Italy. Even the catering keeps with the New York theme.
An hour passes, and then another. Georgina could walk in any minute now. I spend my wait at “Times Square” with fellow finalists Nicole (right) and Melissa (left), one of my roommates in Bangkok.
In a few moments, Georgina enters the hall. She takes in the scenery and holds her phone up to Snapchat. Many follow suit, except she is the view they admire. Maybelline’s first Filipina celebrity endorser is radiant in her dark blue dress, her perfectly smoky eyes complementing her nude-coral-beige matte lip color—is it Touch of Spice mixed with another shade? It suits her creamy complexion beautifully.
As she walks toward the set, I wait for the music to soften and give way to an opening spiel formally announcing that the interviews are starting. It does not: okay, so this will be a private one-on-one, and what comes of it would be the final entry. Georgina and I take our seats on the couch.
She seems relaxed and receptive—in the twelve years that I’ve been interviewing local and foreign celebrities, this is as good as one can hope for in a subject. All trepidation leaves me. I press the little red button on my phone and play my own intro spiel in my head. Let’s kick things off with our first finalist, Shai Lagarde of Love Chic.
S: Hi George, how are you today?
G: Good, do I have lipstick on my teeth?
S: No naman.
G: (laughs) Okay.
S: All right. So I’m gonna start all of the interviews by asking you the questions starting with the letters N, Y, F, and W.
G: That’s cute.
S: For letter N, it’s NEVER. 2015 has been a big year for you—you have Sunnies, you have Besties, you have hosting, and you have Fashion Week…
S: …but what is something that you’ve never experienced that you wanna experience this 2016?
G: Maybe, skydiving? Something daredevil-y. I haven’t done that yet.
S: And then, Y is for YOU. I’ve actually met you in 2005 at the Ateneo Library steps.
G: No way!
S: I was writing a paper on “beauty and brains.” And you were in Eco-H [Economics-Honors course] and you were an up-and-coming model. I was just thinking, so much has changed since then… what if you could go back to those library steps and talk to young George? What is one thing you would tell her?
G: I just think it’s so important to kind of really enjoy each moment. Not worry about what’s gonna happen, ‘cause that will never happen again, or it won’t happen in the same way. And I still feel that in every moment of my life na parang, each second is so important. Like a lot of the time in life, we worry about other things, and I kind of just say, just trust that there’s a plan. I didn’t expect to be doing this now, but, you know, I am, it’s cool, and I’m having so much fun. So I think just really live in the moment.
S: Okay. For F, it’s FILIPINA. You’ve seen first-hand all the Fashion Week shows last September. While you were there, what tricks have you learned first-hand that you would like to give to Filipinas as well?
G: Probably make-up tips. Like the way that they use lipsticks, sometimes they use
as eyeshadows. The versatility of the way that they play with the products. It’s the same products that we have, but every culture interprets them differently. That was really interesting. I thought Filipinas might like to.
S: For the last one, W is for WORDPLAY. It’s gonna be rapid-fire. I’m gonna shoot out random words that would spell MAYBELLINE—
S: For example, M for Makeup, and you just give me the word that…
G: …pops in my head.
Halfway through, things that can happen at these things happen. A technician who probably does not notice the cameras walks across the set a few times to install standing microphones on both sides. The music becomes more upbeat. The conversations grow louder. I imagine man-shaped swooshes and dangling microphone cords being uncoiled by a pair of hands, appearing in some shots of Georgina and me talking. I imagine the noise drowning her silken voice in the voice recording. I start to doubt whether it was a smart move to eschew heavy-duty equipment for something more portable for New York, before realizing that this, too, is an opportunity: to show how I work and improvise in live situations. I can always crop and fix my way through the unwanted clips and repair the sound in editing. I snap right back in the moment.
S: So. Manila—
G: Too short.
G: Best book ever.
G: Something I’m not but I want to be. (laughs)
G: Again, something I’m not but I want to be.
G: It’s kind of like, it’s a state of mind. It doesn’t have to necessarily be… You learn when you’re older that luxury are things that aren’t branded as luxury. It’s like time. It’s time with your friends, it’s time to explore the world. And also, it doesn’t have to be expensive in the sense that there’s so many products that feel luxurious that aren’t expensive. Luxury isn’t a function of money.
S: I agree. Independence—
G: It’s really the best thing. It’s what my parents gave me very early on and it has shaped so much of who I am in my decisions.
G: Natural… What’s coming to me is like, healthy food. (laughs)
S: That’s okay! Last one is E, Empowerment.
G: E, Empowerment… I just think that it’s such a great era for women to live in nowadays. Women empowerment is everything. We’re living in an era that our ancestors worked for.
S: All right, that’s it for me. Thank you so much. You’re such a role model for a lot of
young women for all that you’ve achieved.
G: Thank you!
I see why she makes a suitable Filipina ambassador for Maybelline New York. As an empowered woman whose beauty and confidence has taken her places, Georgina Wilson embodies the spirit of the brand. I ask to take selfies and she gamely poses, then sees me off with a smile and a wave.
I make my way back to where Anton had been standing watch over my gadgets. Two tiny pots of mac and cheese, a tall iced tea, mand an embrace await me. I check my phones for messages. My parents, siblings, two cousins, an aunt, a London-based friend currently traveling in Australia, and a college friend working as a photographer and designer in actual New York. Messages from different time zones: How am I? How did it go? Did I remember this or that tip? I can do this! Heart emojis.
I took part in this campaign for the grand prize—the culmination of everything I love and know how to do. In the months of its run, however, I took with me something just as precious as winning: I was able to just do it. I got to balance my work as a corporate manager, graduate studies, creative pursuits, and personal life. With the support of my loved ones, I got to be one of the women Maybelline’s “Make It Happen” was created for:
“Dedicated to the ladies who never cease to dream of possibilities and goals that they want to achieve, the new anthem is inspired by those who are passionate, motivated, and determined to succeed, no matter what difficulties may come their way. This anthem celebrates the moment when these women stop for a second, look in the mirror, and have the private moment when they cheer themselves and decide that yes, they can make it happen. Because the world’s No.1 makeup brand believes in women who never settle for second place.”
The first placer will be announced in March, the month I turn 30 and my blog turns six. It would certainly be the perfect chapter-marker. Regardless of the results, though, my #MaybellineNYFW experience in itself will always be worth celebrating.