It was February 2; and just the night before, I had to cancel my passport renewal appointment to be able to spend a day with Megan Young. This was not the original plan, however. The day this assignment was given in my Media and Society class, I figured I could contact her younger sister, Lauren, and ask to spend a day with her in one of her tapings. It turned out, after exchanging “fE-mails” (facebook emails), that all her tapings have finished, and that I should try contacting her sister instead. She helped me do just that, and in minute’s time, I received a phone call from Megan Young herself.
She convinced me to reschedule my passport renewal appointment because that Wednesday would be the best day to spend with her, given she had her Channel V taping and a hosting gig. I could not pass this opportunity, so I did reschedule my appointment and made sure that the whole afternoon would be freed up for a day with Megan Young.
Channel V is a lot less glamorous than I expected. Much like the size ratio of rooms in ABS-CBN, the makeup room was literally like a cupboard beneath the stairs as seen in Harry Potter. This only goes to show off the capabilities of the technologies of media – allowing optimum performance in such spatially efficient areas. Based on the logic of safety, this is the most economically efficient way to be. Maximum profit is always the key. What I did like about the room was their make-up set – MAC all throughout. Megan even told me that this brand gives them free products all the time. My envy level went beyond the roof.
There is a reason why all three, Megan, Cliff and Solenn, beautiful and genetically gifted set of people were chosen from the pool of VJ hopefuls. Aside from having the God given graces of beautiful bone structure, they exuded a confidence, had great charisma and chemistry with the camera and the people watching them from the other side of the television set. Although it was the first time I was introduced to VJ Cliff, he treated me as though we have always been good friends. They all had such positive energy, and their aura was one where people… strangers such as myself, could feel welcome at the get-go.
Being where I was, behind the cameras and away from active participation, it got quite boring. Nothing was really there for me to do (although, thanks to my high school Mandarin classes, I taught Cliff how to pronounce “zai jian” properly since no one else knew how), other than observe the people who had all the knowledge it took to create a shot ready for print.
Howard Becker was right when he said that producing art requires so much more than an individual effort. One crew member had to turn the camera from Standby to Recording, the other had to be the Clapper, the other the editor and “scroller” of the teleprompter, and the other had to open and close the door for hours and hours on end – really nothing glamorous about what they do, yet they are all still very relevant. Even the VJ’s job, other than being dressed up and looking great, take a stressful turn when they can’t get the words out right. Take after take after take, unless they get the whole spiel right, they have to keep repeating from the beginning. Trust me when I say, their job is a lot harder than it looks, especially when the energy level has to be at its highest point when the camera’s little red light is on.
I want to side track, however, and talk about the men behind the camera a little more. As I’ve said, there were many very plain and repetitive jobs that were being done throughout the shoot. It just made me curious as to why they would hire more people than needed. Why couldn’t the clapper be the scroller as well? Need there be a separate person to open the door besides the people already there? I didn’t quite understand it, and I could not imagine the job getting hindered if the extra people weren’t there. However, I understood that this was how they have been doing things for the past n years. It works, and it’s probably the most efficient and cost minimizing input combination possible. Yes, I have been studying for economics… this is what happens. I start blabbering about the Lagrangian equation…
Moving on… Megan and I were at Channel V until around five thirty in the afternoon, her actual taping only lasting around an hour because we had to rush to her hosting gig all the way at Quirino Grandstand. It admired me how she was very hands-on with her work, asking for script editing when she felt as though her spiels were getting boring out of proportion. She worked having her audience at the back of her mind. She knew what they cared about and what they wanted to hear. She was very forward with what she wanted and proclaimed her ideas with respect towards the production staff. She wasn’t just the pushover celebrity. By negotiating boundaries, she pushed within her occupational role and showed me that their opinions matter when they want it to matter.
Already around half an hour late for her call time, she rushed to get to her house to get into her hosting clothes… smart casual, their theme was. At her humble abode, I met Adrianne Concepcion, her stylist. He taught me a thing or two about the trends this season and laid out four pairs of outfits that were all host friendly. His heavy influence and knowledge about Megan’s style came up with a two pieced outfit consisting of a glimmer shimmery high waist skirt, a long sleeve see-through top with a beige bando, Aldo shoes, and accessories to match… all from Forever21.
In the world of celebrities, stylists are one of the most important backstage personnel they will ever have. They are artists who help sculpt how the celebrity is known. Every accessory is hand-picked and paired with loud or dainty outfits, depending on the occasion. They give the celebs a character, and it is their job their subject looks unique and gorgeous every single time they are seen somewhere important. Most might not understand the gravity of their work. However, after spending just half a day with him made me realize the impact he has on Megan’s career and how painstaking his job really is.
Arriving at Quirino Grandstand, a place quite far from my Katipunan home, I expected busy bodies swarming the backstage, chaos in the dressing room, and celebrities from left to right. However, to my surprise and disappointment, there were only a few familiar faces. The staff was the most friendly I’ve ever encountered – and I say this with much sarcasm. As Megan was rushed to the stage with the other hosts, Adrianne and I were stuck inside the dressing room. It was the most uneventful and unproductive time of my life. We felt no hospitality other than from Megan’s publicist or manager. From seven to around eleven thirty, we waited, and I can’t say patiently, for her to finally finish – especially because she was only supposed to be hosting for two hours and not four.
Seeing her enter the room was probably the best feeling I had that entire night. Adrianne and I could not wait to get into the car. She was kind enough to drop me home as her and Adrianne think of what else they could do for the night. It was unbelievable they were not yet done. For them, the night was still very young.
Now that I sit here and ponder about my day trip with Megan, I have realized one very important thing about what she does. Beyond the glitz and glamour of her status, her job is just another job. There are many, long stretches of boring and stress and pressure from peers and colleagues, yet there are little moments that really make it worth all that hard work for. There are perks, and there are downfalls. I can only guess that the reason why they strive to stay in their jobs is the fact that their benefits outweigh with great amounts their sacrifices.
With many thanks to Megan Young, I now understand the life behind the limelight to be quite an affair. It brought to life already known facts and surfaced many hidden aspects about the people we love to envy. It taught me to pay great respects to those brave enough to tackle this industry. And it taught me to appreciate my own, quiet life - not that I wouldn’t want to be seen on TV or on billboards one time in my life (laughs).