That was the question I pondered after receiving a call sheet the night before a L’Oreal commercial that listed me and “BK” under the talent section. I knew Beyonce Knowles was contracted by L’Oreal, but in all my experience, I had yet to hand-double for an African American. I’m fully aware of the extensive post-production work on these commercials, but wouldn’t there be an additional effort required to match our skin tones? After all, we weren’t shooting the sequel to Avatar.
I’ve worked with a number of celebrities over the years, but I have never been as excited as I was about the possibility of meeting this superstar. I’ve admired Beyonce for years, putting her in a category of esteemed artists that include Prince, Jim Carrey and Olivia Newton John. So I kept my fingers crossed that BK was in fact the Queen B herself!
It’s no wonder I arrived on the lot the morning of a bit giddy…
When I met the Assistant Director however, I refrained from revealing my eagerness, and successfully kept myself from grabbing him by the collar and yelling, “IS IT BEYONCE?? WHERE IS SHE??!”
Instead, I remained calm and professional as he guided me to a warm room upstairs, where, next to the couch, was a massive amount of mascara.
Suddenly I hoped this mountain of mascara was NOT an indication of a fussy director, who had reserved this colossal quantity for my insert shot requiring innumerable takes later that afternoon.
As I pondered and prayed, celebrity manicurist, Bernadette Thompson, entered. I had worked with this talented nail tech before, and asked nonchalantly, “So…Um…I noticed on the call sheet…”
“It’s Beyonce,” she quickly responded.
Adding after a perplexed pause, “She is light.”
I shared with her my excitement, admitting the last time I was this star struck I was in Whole Foods watching Sheila E pick through mangos.
As soon as my nails dried, Bernadette and I walked to the craft service table, poured some tea and sat on an outside bench absorbing the brilliant February Southern California sun.
Then the moment came… Beyonce, in all her satin robed glory, dewy flawless face and freshly coiffed lighter-than-usual ‘do’, rolled up on a golf cart accompanied by a big bodyguard in a slick dark suit and shades, an assistant who was better dressed than most couture runway models, and a hair person adorned with accents of black leather.
And much like my moment with Shelia, I carefully avoided eye contact, trying to appear fully immersed in my Earl Grey as her majesty, along side the bling-brigade, walked by seemingly unnoticed.
Alas, that’s as close as I got to The Fiercest Of Them All.
A few hours later, the AD informed me that production was running behind schedule and I wouldn’t be needed. Although this was not the first time I’d been hired and held all day, this was the first time I wondered if those in charge may have been equally as surprised to see me in my pale flesh, as I was to see Beyonce…