Cosmetic Executive Women’s Carlotta Jacobson on life in front of the camera.
This story first appeared in the August 12, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Saturday, May 21–Sunday, May 22
My brush with fame happens every year at the end of May. This is when I go on the Today show for the CEW Beauty Awards segment to present the most innovative and exciting products in the industry as voted upon by our members. As I get “into part,” I put on my editorial hat (from my beauty editor days) and prepare for the few moments when I feel like a celebrity. Preparing for Today isn’t so glamorous—it’s hard work. Over the weekend I can think of nothing else. I’m completely immersed; I go over every product in my head at least 100 times—all 26 winners. I narrow down all the product info to three key points, which I recite out loud—over and over again. I write them down. I test myself.
Monday, May 23
Liz N., a producer on Today, calls me. Of the 26 winners, she’s giving me four minutes to talk about eight of them. We agree on the products that make the strongest story and which can be demonstrated on air. She wants me to demo the Ojon hair mousse, which comes with its own built-in brush. Now I add dispensing the mousse on my hands to my rehearsing routine. Over and over again.
Tuesday, May 24
The Today show car picks me up at 8 a.m. Instead of focusing on the show, I concentrate on what I’m going to eat when it’s over. Except, I’m on Weight Watchers. I arrive on set. I feel loved. Everyone swarms around me. I know it’s all about the products they want to try, but it helps me relax. I take on the persona of a beauty advisor, giving advice, handing out products. I’m met on set by Natalie Morales and Ann Curry. I’m always struck by how warm they are. Natalie is a beauty: tall, thin, great skin. I’ve known Ann for seven years. She doesn’t age. She is breathtakingly beautiful and kind.
The actual on-air part of it goes by in a blur. Photos are taken. Back at the office, I get calls from two people I haven’t seen in 20 years, e-mails from viewers and our Web site is going crazy… Here’s what I learned from my brush with fame: I can’t be a newscaster. Product names are too long. But most important, I learned that beauty creates a bond, and that products make people happy. What else could I hope for?