Thursday, September 24, 2015

HOLAwave: Our Adventure at the 2015 Emmy Awards, Part 3

[HOLAwave represents a series of guest blogs by industry insiders giving informative and educational tidbits for the Latino performer. They can range from acting and auditioning advice, tech tips, legal advice, marketing, producing tips, and so on. Get caught up in the wave– the HOLAwave.]

Our Adventure at the 2015 Emmy Awards

[HOLA member Susanna Guzmán had a recurring role in the first season of the Emmy Award-nominated Netflix series "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". As such, she and her husband, HOLA member Anthony Ruiz, were invited to the Emmy weekend. Ruiz tells us what it was like to be at the Emmys.]

It's 7am. Woke up drunk, exactly as I went to bed. That’s good,  cause that usually means it was a good party.  I figured out why California is in a drought, they using up all their water making ice cubes for mixed drinks. 

Anyway, today is the day, EMMY DAY! Although the telecast starts at 5pm (8pm ET), we start our day at 12:15pm. That’s when our car carries us off to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel to prep the ladies with makeup, hair and in some cases, accessories. We men just have to shave and make sure not to spill ketchup on our rented tuxes. Talking about suits, here’s a piece of advice to my male HOLA members when you come to Los Angeles for any award show (and you will come), bring your suits from New York. There isn’t a tux in L.A. to be found during any awards ceremonies. 

At 9am, my finger still hurts from my battle with that zipper from hell!  I wonder if I can get the makeup lady at the Wilshire to do a little magic on it, after all, it’s my waving hand! My wife wakes up and off we go downstairs to get our FREE breakfast provided by our hotel. El Lay has a lot of FREE stuff... I like this town.

We go to the serving room wearing dark sunglasses because our eyes are still blood-shot and sensitive from all the boozing. Since arriving in this town, every event, every party, every Escalade has had tons of booze, and it’s FREE. Thank you L.A. people.

It's 11am. Time to get dressed. My wife's dress has no zipper so I feel very calm. I shower, shave and put on my suit. Then I get out of the way and sit next to the air conditioning to watch as “The Ritual” begins, my wife Susanna dressing herself for the Emmys. Unless she calls you, don’t move– just sit and watch. It takes less preparation to land a man on the moon, then to get a woman dressed for a formal evening event. Especially an event that will be watched by 30 million viewers. 

As she puts on the final touches of makeup, the phone rings. Our driver has arrived. Now comes that moment when a woman realizes that they have no place to carry their stuff and their purse, which cost a small fortune, can only hold one single-ply tissue. In my opinion, it should be against the law to design a pocket-less dress or a purse that can’t hold a .357 Magnum gun comfortably.  I pack the stuff into any available pocket, then off we go.

It's 12:15pm. The ride to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is quiet; we just sat back, grinning and appreciating the journey. We arrive at the Wilshire where Susanna gets whisked away for 20 minutes of hair and makeup. Then, everybody on the bus! That would be the Netflix party bus, where more champagne greets everyone. Our fellow commuters were cast members of "Orange is the New Black", "House of Cards" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". For laughs, they had Pabst Blue Ribbon for OITNB, champagne for House and, of course, pinot noir for UKS. We arrive at the Staples Center, through the rear, away from the crowd. We hear them in the distance... it’s awesome. Quickly, they get us out of the hot sun and into a giant all-white waiting area, were food and drinks await us.  There’s also a row of hair/makeup/wardrobe for anyone who needs touch-ups. If you remember the “empty glass bottle” and the “straw broom”, well here is another stupid moment. As you walk on the red carpet they give you Fiji water with a straw in it, but once you go towards the lobby of the auditorium they take away that brand and give you another brand (called “Emmy” water), then when you enter the auditorium they stop you again and take away all the bottles. Only in L.A. 

The red carpet is divided in the middle by a red rope. One side is for interviews, the other side is for non-interviews. The interview side has a raised platform that runs the full length of the red carpet, which is about as long as a New York City block. Along the runway, are side-by-side booths of different entertainment news organizations (People, "Entertainment Tonight", etc.). Either way we are all walking under the same HOT sun. Once inside the Staples center we mingle, take pictures and chat with friends. The Staples Center does have drinks and popcorn for purchase, they’re not free, NOT FREE?!?!  

At 4:45pm, the president of the Academy steps out and tells us how to behave and when to clap. Then on huge screens the countdown begins and off we go. “Live from The Staples Center, the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards”.  At about 15 minutes in, there is the first commercial break. First ones out of their seats are the “SUITS”, the lawyers, agents, studio heads to get a drink at the lobby bar. Once the show starts if you are not in your seat or at the bar you must stay in the back of the theatre until the next commercial break. 

Finally the ceremony ends. Everyone is tired and hungry. So out of the theatre we go, turn the corner and cross the courtyard then through another series of tickets/security sections, where we finally walk into the Governor’s Ball in the Los Angeles Convention Center. To say that the venue was magical is a major understatement. No camera can capture the beauty of a huge space dripping in delicate crystals. In the center is a two-level raised stage that has a band and and singer performing and slowly rotating. It was VERY impressive! We find our table among over 500 tables in this huge venue. Awaiting us at our table (we were sitting with other UKS cast members with whom we also sat next to at the  Staples Center) was a wonderful poached pear salad with goat cheese, figs, spiced walnuts, etc. Following this arrives an amazing beef tenderloin with potato, mushroom, yucca chips, etc. Finally, "a luscious Ghana brownie with popcorn Chantilly and baby bourbon caramel", etc.  I say "etc." because each detailed description on the menu is about a paragraph long and "ain't nobody got time for dat".  Know it was all extremely DELICIOSO! The entire table was delighted and satisfied. By this point Susanna cannot take wearing her shoes any longer and I devise a plan to give her my socks as the place is large and dimly lit that no one will notice.  So we both begin to bend over and fiddle with our feet as our dinner companions look on curiously. Susanna goes to the ladies room and returns with a little nylon baggie with L'Oreal hairspray, lipstick and eyeliner that were given to her for flushing (yes, FREE).  

Now it's 10pm. It's time to partaaay so we call our driver Mike and his Escalade. We ask him to first stop at our hotel so Susanna can get her flats, we do that and then we’re off to the Netflix afterparty which is at the infamous Château Marmont. What a cool ass joint!  Down a driveway you arrive on a cobblestone front, they check the guest list and then you enter a lovely foyer with alcoves leading to different parts of the Château.  There is a roped off staircase leading upstairs which is off-limits (I'm pretty sure that’s where Garbo hung out). There are also two sets of French doors that are flung open. Through the first set of French doors is an indoor sitting room with piano, couches and snack/food set-up.  The DJs (one male, one female) are tearing it up. Through the second set of French doors is an amazing courtyard with couches and hanging lights. We hear the music here as well and the environment is giddy and joyful. Susanna begins to get her dance on soon after her first champagne glass. We are under the stars again surrounded by stars. At one point Susanna is sprawled on a couch smoking a cigarette and a lovely young woman approaches us and makes Susanna an offer she can’t refuse– “I will trade you this Emmy for a cigarette”– so Susanna took the deal and fiddled with her Emmy while the woman stood by entranced with her cigarette. Susanna felt it was an unfair trade and gave the woman back her Emmy, but not before licking its wings. The woman won as part of the writing team of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (man, what was her name?!?!). 

[Clockwise from top left: Anthony Ruiz and Susanna Guzmán meet up with fellow HOLA member Vanessa Verduga; mutual admirers Ruiz and Lea DeLaria; Guzmán and Alan Cumming; Guzmán and the infamous "Emmy licking" moment.]

The party is still going on at 1am, but sadly, we have to get back to our hotel. Susanna likes to pack the night before and we have about 55 lbs. (as later weighed at the airport) of swag ("stuff we all get") to organize. So now this journey ends and yet it's only begun, because if anything this has taught us it’s that this business is a crazy, wonderful crapshoot. One day you can be grilling burgers for a barbecue in your "barrio backyard" and the next week you can be walking the red carpet and toasting champagne with Alan Cummings.  Thanks for reading along, guys, I hope you also enjoyed the journey. (We sure did.)

Anthony Ruiz is an actor, playwright, screenwriter, director, cinematographer and photographer. Most recently he acted in the films Daughter of God (written and directed by gee Malik Linton, and starring Keanu Reeves, Ana de Armas, Mira Sorvino and Christopher McDonald) and Custody (written and directed by James Lapine, and starring Emmy Award winner Viola Davis, Ellen Burstyn, Hayden Pannettiere, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Olga Merediz); and in a commercial with John Leguizamo and (once again) Olga Merediz.

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