What It's Actually Like Prepping Actresses for an Awards Show

Manicurist Deborah Lippmann let us in on the whole process.

By: Laurel Pantin

To an outsider, there are few things more glamorous-sounding than prepping for a major awards show. The hair! The makeup! The gown! The bottomless champagne! Pretty great, right?

But what about the people behind all that extra-special pampering? Well, it turns out its pretty great for them too. Ahead of yesterdays Tony awards, we asked manicurist Deborah Lippman (who we just learned has quite the set of pipes herself!) to give us the rundown of her day prepping Laura Linney and a Dear Evan Hansen star for the big event.


7:00AM: I’m up early because I can never sleep the night before the Tony Awards – I’m too excited – but today, I am also so, so tired! I had such a busy day yesterday. I was at the Music Box Theatre in between performances of Dear Evan Hansen, where I did the nails of Rachel Bay Jones (who plays Evan’s mom, Heidi), her darling daughter, Miranda, as well as Laura Dreyfuss (who plays Zoe Murphy). I would love to see Dear Evan Hansen sweep the awards, it’s my absolute favorite this season (I’ve seen it three times). I chose Tiny Dancer, a delicate soft, sheer pink, for Rachel’s manicure, and Shape of My Heart, a strong, more opaque pink, for her pedicure. For Rachel’s daughter, Miranda, we created a custom shade using an iridescent blue-gray-green, Wicked Game, over We Are Young, a super fun fuchsia. For Laura Dreyfuss, I used Baby Love, a pretty petal pink, for her manicure and Shape of My Heart for her pedicure.

8:00AM: Before I start my day, I make an emergency visit to my dentist, Dr. Jeffrey McClendon on 5th Avenue, for a quick smile tune-up. I have a horrible habit of clenching my teeth when I’m nervous or when I’m doing a client’s nails, so he helps keep my smile perfect.

9:00 AM: Once I’m back at home, I need to keep busy before all the excitement kicks in! We are so lucky that our apartment building has the most incredible gym, so I pop into Mercedes Club for a quick cardio workout to get my energy level up. When I’m back at our apartment, I throw all of my manicure towels in the wash to make sure they’re clean, fluffy and sparkling for today. The Laundress Whites Detergent is the absolute best at keeping your whites white, even if you’re not a domestic goddess.

11:00 AM: I’m working with a few different clients today, so I check and re-check my kit to make sure I have a ton of polish shades, treatments, and tools so I’m ready for anything. After that, I hop in a cab to head uptown for my first client.

12:00 PM: I arrive at the Hilton Times Square to see a friend, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, who works at my alma mater, Arizona State University. Colleen is the executive director of ASU Gammage, the university’s performing arts center, and is the only Tony Award voter from Arizona! For Colleen, I use Rolling in the Deep, a deep midnight blue, to complement her gorgeous dress. Colleen gave me incredible insight on the voting process, it was such a fun conversation. We went over every single category, along with her top picks and thoughts on the night’s underdogs. We have a mutual obsession with Dear Evan Hansen, so we are both pulling for a Best Musical win!

1:30 PM: I hail another cab to head uptown for my second client, who I’m not able to mention, but she’s an incredible woman and we had the absolute best time! And she also shared my love of Dear Evan Hansen…I haven’t met someone who isn’t rooting for them today.

4:30 PM: I arrive at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, where The Little Foxes shows, to meet the talented and lovely Laura Linney, who has just 90 minutes for full glam, following her matinee performance and before she needs to be in a cab to Radio City. I adore Laura, and we had the best time. We chose my color of the summer, from my latest collection, Stargasm. It’s a stunning rose gold shade that is flattering on every skin tone. Simultaneously, while I’m working with Laura, my good friend Nick Barose is working with Cynthia Nixon, another star from The Little Foxes. Cynthia is also wearing my polish – I love the support – and to match her dress, her team chose Baby Love.   The backstage area at The Little Foxes is so very tiny, but the energy is palpable. This entire weekend, I’ve experienced nothing but love and support for each other and the community as a whole. There were hugs and kisses everywhere I looked.

6:00 PM: With everyone from The Little Foxes ready to go, I head back out to the Theater District and just walk up and down the streets. That’s when I discovered the Hamilton memorabilia store.  In all my years, I’ve never seen a store dedicated to just one show. They were closing up shop, but I was able to talk my way in for a few minutes, and it’s now on my to-do list to go back. The store stocked just about everything, but there weren’t any nail polishes, and I would LOVE to create one…

7:00 PM: I get home an hour before the show starts to clean the apartment and throw my used towels back in the washing machine. My dear friend Marla Maples is coming over for a viewing party. Right before it starts, I send my husband, Jude, to the bedroom because I plan on blasting the television and singing every moment I can.

8:00 PM: I pop some popcorn, because let’s face it, it’s a food that’s difficult to mess up. Kevin Spacey’s opening was brilliant – simply amazing. One of my favorite moments was when he, Robin Wright and Michael Kelly were on stage with Lin Manuel Miranda, it just doesn’t get much better! There were so many other highlights. How about Bette Midler talking over the music? Just let her speak as long as she wants…she’s Bette Midler!! When Ben Platt performed, I dragged Jude from the bedroom; even he loved it, but Ben is amazing, so who can’t appreciate that voice. Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone’s performance was another that I watched over and over again. Dear Evan Hansen’s win for Best Musical was incredible. Anything can happen at award shows, and there’s always going to be upsets, but in my heart of hearts, I knew they would win. I’m beyond thrilled for the cast, the writers and everyone involved with the show – they are so very deserving. I’m completely effusive when I watch television, and tonight was no different – I laughed, I cried, I sang—it was everything I could ever want from the Tony Awards!