On the day before my birthday this year, I was given a gift of a lifetime. I was invited to walk down the red carpet for the premiere of Mary Poppins Returns.
Is there a review coming? Oh yes. It’s a lovely movie but you’ll have to wait to hear more about it. What you will hear about is how little ol’ me ended up realizing a few of her childhood dreams by walking down the red carpet in Hollywood.
If you were following my social media at all during the last week in November, I was just as thrilled to be in Los Angeles for the LA Auto Show, one of the biggest in the business. There are a few that every car enthusiast has on their list: Detroit, LA, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Frankfurt (I’m still working on those last three). Nissan’s invitation to attend the LA Auto Show and their pre-show technology forum, Nissan Futures – Electrification, Autonomy & Connectivity was only sweetened when I was only invited to be one of a handful of their media guests at the premiere of Mary Poppins Returns.
Here’s the first question you might be wondering. What does Nissan have to do with Mary Poppins Returns?
At the LA Auto Show, Nissan unveiled its brand new Nissan Altima for 2019 with an emphasis on design and technology, both of which were key to making Mary Poppins Returns a success to match its predecessor.
And let’s face it. Taking pencil to paper and bringing a design to life is exactly what happens when getting ready for a red carpet event. Here’s exactly what happened on my magical day and night in Hollywood.
Getting Ready for the Red Carpet
While the LA Auto Show is held in downtown Los Angeles, the red carpet premiere is on the other side of town in Hollywood. Nissan shuttled all invited guests to The Hollywood Roosevelt, a historic hotel built in 1926. In fact, it was the location for the first ever Academy Awards! The hotel is within walking distance of the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, the location of the premiere. All that was required was a few hours of pampering and a short walk to the red carpet.
After checking in, I had a security escort to the Penthouse where we reconvened for a quick lunch and an afternoon with the Hollywood glam squad. Nissan offered us with cheeseburgers, french fries, and ice cream sundaes while getting ready. I nibbled a bit but chose to sip on champagne while getting ready in an effort to keep my red carpet figure (or lack thereof) intact.
First stop was HAIR. I am horrible at styling my hair and knew only that some sort of curls would be nice. Let me just tell you that I didn’t know my hair could do the things that they made it do. With a combination of hair products (and a lot of them), some teasing, and a ton of curls, I couldn’t wait to see how it looked. Yes, I was facing away from the mirror the entire time.
But before my hair was revealed, my makeup artist stepped in to make some magic happen. Did I also mention I’m horrible at makeup? I don’t typically wear a lot of makeup but for this night, I was all in. We decided on smoky eyes, pink lips, and EYELASHES FOR DAYS.
In just a short 90 minutes, I was ready for the big reveal. I felt beautiful and awkward at the same time. Does that make sense? It was so not me but it was lovely to see myself finally go Hollywood!
After my glam session, I pinned my hair up for a quick shoulder massage before getting ready for the premiere. I mean, a girl can’t walk the red carpet feeling tense, am I right?
(FYI – the men in attendance had their own pampering sessions with some serious barber shop action.)
Downstairs at the Mary Poppins Returns Nissan Pre-Party
If anyone knows me, they know I am notoriously late to everything. But the Nissan Pre-Party? I was the first one there! To say I was a little excited is an understatement. I posed for our mini-red carpet and sipped on cocktails in the lounge where the golden age of Hollywood used to meet and greet.
I can’t tell you how absolutely fun it was to see everyone come together with their hair and makeup and red carpet outfits. It was attending a fabulous costume party! And it wasn’t just the women. While we all fawned over each other’s dresses, I loved seeing the men step up their game, especially with Mary Poppins-inspired attire.
Off to the Dolby Theatre
Just before heading out, we were greeted by Disney personnel who provided us security badges for the red carpet. Although I didn’t plan for a lanyard with my red carpet dress, it’s a must. If you’re not wearing that badge, you’re not getting on the red carpet.
With our badges on, we walked the block or so past the generators and tents blocking off Hollywood Boulevard and through security. We wound our way through the outdoor mall that houses the Dolby Theatre walking on red carpeting but not yet reaching THE red carpet.
NOTE: If you have the opportunity to walk the red carpet, keep your eyes open at all times! As we were walking, we casually passed Matt Damon on his way into the theatre. I missed him because I was too busy fangirling over Sean Giambrone (Adam from The Goldbergs). We wound around just a bit more before… THE RED CARPET!
Walking the Red Carpet
The red carpet is an experience for all invited guests to enjoy. You can walk as long as you keep moving. And as you walk, you might just stroll past celebrities like John Stamos or Lin Manuel Miranda. And if you see a big fluttering of activity, it’s probably just John Krasinski with his wife and star Emily Blunt, looking like an angel.
Don’t worry. You won’t be getting too close to them at that point. They’ve got their handlers moving them down the part of the red carpet where the paparazzi hang out. I could hear them shouting, EMILY! EMILY – LOOK OVER HERE! Alas, no one called my name and I was ushered behind the section with the paparazzi.
After posing for a few photos, it was time for the main event. THE MOVIE!
The Dolby Theatre Experience
The Dolby Theatre, formerly known as the Kodak Theatre, is where the Academy Awards are typically held. But it’s also a regular old movie theatre. On the way in, we were handed neoprene bags for our phones, which were then hermetically sealed. Or probably just magnetically locked. Either way, that phone was under lock and key once I entered the theatre. And it killed me not to be able to take photos at this point because…
Free popcorn and sodas!
The theatre had buckets of popcorn and ice cold bottles of water and soda sitting out for all the guests. I grabbed mine and headed to my assigned seat where I chowed down after realizing that this would be my temporary dinner.
As were were sitting in our row waiting for the stars to shuffle in and for the movie to start, I casually glanced over and saw John Krasinski, Matt Damon, and Bob Iger all casually chatting in the theatre aisle. Like, THEY WERE RIGHT THERE AND I COULDN’T TAKE A PICTURE. Can you even imagine what power plays were being discussed?
Fun fact: John Krasinski was drinking Diet Coke, just like me!
We continued to look around playing “spot the celebrity” and came up with Camryn Mannheim, Caroline Rhea, and Weird Al Yankovic. And at the last minute, Dick Van Dyke was escorted in.
Then, we all sat and watched the movie together with applause after each musical number and a standing ovation at the end.
Stars – they’re just like us!
The After Party
If you’re an invited guest, you’re invited to the after party. A few floors up, there’s a massive tent erected full of fun movie tie-ins and photo opps as well as tons of food and drink. Imagine my conundrum when I arrived – I wanted food AND drinks AND celebrities! I quickly found all of them!
There were plenty of celebrities throughout the party and I literally rubbed elbows with Lin Manuel Miranda. Although I didn’t meet him, he seemed super nice and genuinely happy to be there. He even went out of his way to meet the little girls that came over to see him. (FYI – if you want to get up close and personal with a celebrity, bring a cute little kid with you!)
I also got close to all of the stars of the movie. I waited in hopes of saying hello or grabbing a selfie but they were all kind of busy doing the Hollywood thing. And I was trying to seem cool so I hung back. Until…
The biggest thrill for me was walking past Sean Giambrone from The Goldbergs. My hands were full of food and drink but he saw that look in my eyes. That look that said, OMG, I’m a really huge fan and I want to meet you and take a selfie with you but I’m currently tongue-tied and my hands are full and WHAT DO I DO?
He graciously said, “would you like me to come back to your table?” Um, YES. How generous was that?
I fawned over him and told him how much I love his show and how The Goldbergs has single-handedly addressed every single awkward moment of puberty with my son so that I don’t have to! Soon, the whole Nissan table was fawning over him and he was genuinely thrilled. What a nice guy. Seriously.
After my night was made, I made a few more rounds. I had a few celebrities pointed out to me but no one that I recognized (clearly I need to watch more TV). But I did have a reunion of sorts with plenty of other blogger friends who were there as invited guests of Disney.
The AFTER After Party
As the party wound down and the celebrities left, we headed back to the hotel where it was creeping closer to midnight (and my actual birthday). I felt like Cinderella and didn’t want the clock to strike midnight. Alas, a 4:30am shuttle to the airport meant that I had time to take off my dress, post a few photos, and grab a few hours of sleep before flying home to celebrate my birthday with my family.
I probably looked a little ridiculous in my comfy clothes and glasses the next morning with my smoky eyes and false eyelashes underneath. But the remnants of Hollywood stayed with me for the rest of the day making it one of the most memorable birthdays ever.
A huge thanks to Nissan for including me in this fantastic event!