One Final Flowery Paper For Pat Conroy

One Final Flowery Paper For Pat Conroy
by Dawn McCoy

Pat Conroy on the greatest gift...

Pat Conroy on the greatest gift…

It’s raining tonight in Los Angeles, and I can’t help but be reminded of my belief as a child that anytime it rained, God must be crying.
It seemed like it rained for every funeral I ever attended until I was in high school.

I read my first Pat Conroy book in 8th grade.
My big brother loved Pat Conroy, and had referenced a pivotal line from The Lords of Discipline in his high school commencement address:
“I WEAR THE RING.”
7 years later, I would base my own commencement address around the same quote, dutifully paying homage to both my beloved big brother whom I had failed at trying to be, and to the author who inspired me all along the way in that failed process.

Pat Conroy so permeated my literary, intellectual and emotional growth and experience as a teenager that in 9th grade, Mrs. Mrozek suggested that I read other authors because my writing tended to follow suit in Conroy’s voice in that it was utterly, deliciously – and sometimes, terribly – flowery.
Her note on many of my papers was simply: “Avoid corn.”

I did not.

Flowery writing would be my saving grace in graduating high school, getting into college, and graduating college in 3.5 years.
It would also be the basis of my career in Los Angeles: understanding the power of words and the emotions they can invoke, when delivered honestly and beautifully, with a little nod to prose, poetry and alliteration.

I thank Pat Conroy for that.

I also thank Pat Conroy for writing about his fractured family, suffering from mental illness, abuse, addiction…and southern heritage.
He dutifully detailed all of the beautiful ups and downs, and dramas and traumas, with little judgment or hindsight…but with plenty of honesty and heart.
He made me feel less alone by communicating that even in the craziest of families, the underlying current that keeps everyone together truly is love.

I have often compared my own father to the father character in Conroy’s “The Great Santini,” and I suppose I always will. The patriarch in that book resonated with me in ways few other characters in fiction have managed to do, probably because he was a fictional character based on a nonfictional man. In fact, he was based on Pat’s father – so specifically so – that his mother famously took the book as evidence to the judge in her divorce case against Pat’s father, years later.

As I sit here tonight, heartbroken, I ask myself why I mourn so deeply for this man.
After all, I didn’t know him apart from the home he maintained on my bookcase.
Well, part of me mourns because when we’re given that frequently asked parlor question, “Who would you invite – living or dead – to your dream dinner party?” Pat was always my first answer. I honestly thought that one day I would make it happen, and we would sit there swapping southern tragic tales of foiled families over our recipes for shrimp’n’grits, peach cobbler and sweet tea.

I also mourn because he has been such a constant in my life.
Years after reading all of his books, some twice, I would find myself working for Barbra Streisand, who directed and starred in the adaptation of Pat’s “The Prince Of Tides.” I remember standing in her laundry room, looking up a phone number in her address book, when I spotted Pat’s phone number.
I can finally admit that I called the number, heard his voice, and then hung up like a giddy schoolgirl.

Much like family, he has just always been a part of my story.
And, now his story has come to an end.

Here’s what I learn from this…as I’ve learned before, and I pray I won’t learn again.
Don’t wait.
Reach out to people.
Tell them why you appreciate them. What their work has meant to you. What they mean to you.
Let them know their value to you and your world.
And do it all, without expecting nothing in return.

I will never forgive myself for not sending a single letter to my favorite author to thank him for what he has given me.
So, please don’t make that mistake.

Thank you, Pat, for showing me that while we are the product of our parents, it doesn’t mean that we have to walk the same paths as our parents.
Their stories are not our stories.
And our futures have little to do with the past, unless we give the past that kind of control.
You are the best teacher I ever had.

“I find happy an elusive word, but I do feel something good going on.” (Pat Conroy)

Grammys 2016: Kickin’ It With Clive & Cover Girl

Most little girls grow up, dreaming of becoming a princess or something…but, me?

A girl and her dream come true

A girl and her dream come true

I grew up, dreaming of award shows and living the Hollywood life.

Cover Girl made a dream come true for me, thanks to a memorable evening - and a memorable look, with these delicious products!

Cover Girl made a dream come true for me, thanks to a memorable evening – and a memorable look, with these delicious products!

Well, dream granted!!!

Never have I been reminded of that dream coming true more than when I was asked to attend a behind-the-scenes look of The Grammys with Cover Girl and attend the annual Clive Davis pre-Grammys gala at The Beverly Hilton, the night before the big event.

While I would attend The Grammys and an after-party with friends the following afternoon, my pre-Grammys party was strong on Sunday, thanks to my friends at Cover Girl.

My Cover Girl Grammys glam experience started with a behind-the-scenes tour of Staples Center, where The Grammys would be held the following day.

Getting a behind-the-scenes sneak peek  of The Grammys

Getting a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of The Grammys

We walked the red carpet, saw Kendrick Lamar rehearse for a bit, and rode up the “escalator to heaven” where winners go to the press room after they win their Grammy(s).

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And, the day just got better and better.

To prepare for Clive’s party, Cover Girl sent over the Glam Squad to do my makeup and get me all dolled up with some of their prettiest products.

Clad in black for Clive's party

Clad in black for Clive’s party ℅ ABS by Allen Schwartz

I wanted my makeup to be as fun as I felt (hey, ABS by Allen Schwartz deep plunging neckline!), and wanted to channel a little bit of that little Dawn who used to dream of such a magical day, back while  was singing in chapel in my school days.

Award season-Sandra Bullock was my inspiration

Award season-Sandra Bullock was my inspiration

Look I was going for? Award-season Sandra Bullock. After all, my first Hollywood job was being her stand-in in Miss Congeniality in Austin, so it only makes sense that my dream would come full circle, in FULL color!

Cover Girl Oh Sugar lip balm in Sprinkle is as SWEET as it sounds!

Cover Girl Oh Sugar lip balm in Sprinkle is as SWEET as it sounds!

So, we stuck with a perfect, perky pink lip with Cover Girl Colorlicious Oh Sugar! Vitamin Infused Balm in Sprinkle, dewy, glowing skin thanks to Cover Girl TruBLEND Liquid Makeup foundation, a pop of natural color on the cheeks with Cover Girl TruBLEND Blush in Medium Rose, defined eyes with Cover Girl TruNaked Eyeshadow Palette in Roses, and lots of lashes, thanks to Cover Girl Plumpify Lash Blast Pro.

The best part? Each of these products is $10 or under!!!

That evening, I attended what was – quite honestly – the best event of my life: the Clive Davis pre-Grammys Gala.

I sat at the table with Cover Girl, Procter & Gamble and three other influencers who were as over the moon to be there as I was.

My place at the table at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammys Gala at The Beverly Hilton

My place at the table at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammys Gala at The Beverly Hilton

So, with all of the events I get to attend, why was this one so special?

Well, here’s but a small selection of some of the artists who performed: Dave Grohl, Beck, Barry Manilow, Melissa Etheridge, Fetty Wap, Earth Wind and Fire, Adam Lambert, Jack Antonoff of Fun, Andra Day, Elle King, Meghan Trainor, Chicago, and the piece de resistance…CARLY SIMON! Yes, you heard me.

CARLY. SIMON.

She sang “You’re So Vain,” and the whole room of wall-to-wall celebrities were dancing and singing right along with me.

It was one of those life-making moments I shall never forget.

I was happily surprised after the 6-hour gala to see that my makeup hadn’t budged a bit, so I decided to do the whole makeup routine again for The Grammys the following evening, when I attended with my friends, Mike & Aphrodite Camello. Changing it up a bit from straight strands to beach-waved locks, I was going for an Emmylou Harris meets Loretta Lynn country vibe to celebrate all of my friends in from Nashville who were nominated.

On my way to The Grammys!

On my way to The Grammys! Dress ℅ Eliza J

Afterwards, I hung out at The Mavericks’ after party at Velvet Margarita with my Grammy-nominated friends,  The Mavericks

Post-Grammys-partying with The Mavericks

Post-Grammys-partying with The Mavericks

and one of my dearest friends, director Trey Fanjoy (who also happens to be not only an award-winning video director herself for Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift, but also the wife of Eddie Perez, the guitarist for The Mavericks.

With my Nashville sister and dear friend, video director Trey Fanjoy at The Mavericks' post-Grammys party

With my Nashville sister and dear friend, video director Trey Fanjoy at The Mavericks’ post-Grammys party

And, while my Cover Girl makeup lasted beautifully and flawlessly all night long…

Thank you, Cover Girl, for a Grammys look that lasted!

Thank you, Cover Girl, for a Grammys look that lasted!

after 4 days of non-stop going and glamming, it was time for this girl to say good night.

Good night, Grammys! This girl was happily exhausted.

Good night, Grammys! This girl was happily exhausted.

‘Til next year, Grammys.
Can’t wait to do it all over again, Cover Girl.

 

xoxo,
Dawn

Haters Gonna Hate? Ashton Kutcher and I aren’t having it.

Haters Gonna Hate? Well, I'm not gonna have it.

Haters Gonna Hate? Well, I’m not gonna have it.

H A T E R S. G O N N A. H A T E? well, I’m not havin’ it. ✋

And, neither is Ashton Kutcher.

Thanks so much, Ashton, for featuring the #KissAndMakeup anti-bullying campaign with Bystander Revolution &  Tarte Cosmetics – and the small part I play in it – on your Aplus site and social media channels today.

Taking a stand against cyberbullying and cruelty is a no-brainier for me, and many of you out there. But, that’s not the case across the board, unfortunately.

Ironically enough – and, basically proving the point of the whole campaign – there are negative, bully-style comments below the picture on Ashton’s Facebook page. 😒

When will it stop?

When we MAKE it stop.

Tell your friends.

Teach your children.

Share with your teachers.

Send love when you can to those who need it.

Defend those who are defenseless.

And, take a stand.

Yes, even if it’s just on social media.

Especially on social media.

The power of social media is just that: POWER.

It can remind people that there are people behind the pictures. While it’s true that haters are gonna hate, it’s also true that that hate is usually rooted in something much deeper and much darker.

I truly believe that if we drown all that hate in loads of love, those haters aren’t gonna be hatin’ for long. Love is just too powerful a potion for them not to drink. 🙌

The Serial Killer Living Inside Of Us All…

This picture is me kicking fear's butt.

This picture is me kicking that serial killer called Fear’s butt. Take that, sucka.

This is a picture of me kicking a serial killer’s butt.

See, this past weekend, I was asked to audition for a film. 

I was thrilled…ACTING!! My original dream that brought me to Los Angeles.

My costar from a short film from years ago said he wanted me to audition for it, and I was terribly flattered. 
In fact, I got all excited and then…I read the script.
The character description read:  “a pudgy, hard-looking 48-year-old diner waitress.”
Oy.
 
It never occurred to me of course that my friend might be asking me to audition because I was a good actor or that he enjoyed working with me. 
Nah, fear and ego took me straight to, “You CAN’T do this because it will be admitting that you are that person you were always so scared of becoming.”
While I’m CERTAINLY not skin and bones, it took a minute for my ego to have an absolute meltdown. “You can’t do this! You’re acknowledging your greatest fear.” 
And, that’s exactly the reason I did it.
Because: 
a) it’s ACTING – a field that literally hinges itself on being who you’re not
b) my weight/appearance is not my greatest fear any longer (nor should it have ever been), and 
c) I need to loudly recognize in my actions the difference between fear and reality, for it’s a mighty thin, often blurry line; and, if you ask me, it’s fine time someone called fear out for posing and dressing up like reality. 
 
So, I went on that audition, and channeled my Granny Alice, who was a diner waitress.
I even paid $50 to put it on tape. I wore NO makeup, a plaid shirt, and didn’t even look in the mirror before I went before camera.
And, you know what?
I lived. And, it felt good. Heck, it WAS good. Good enough to get the part?
Who knows? That’s absolutely none of my business.

And, sure, It felt liberating and all that.
But, it also felt mighty fine to yell “F— YOU FEAR!!” right in that sad, scared little guy’s face.

It felt so good, that I decided to break up with that little f—‘er.
And, in doing so, I’m able to proudly share my story with you.

So, here’s the takeaway for you:
Is there something you’re scared to do? Maybe you’re not doing it because it doesn’t seem “realistic” enough?
Well, here’s some REAL realism…

Do it anyway.

Fear is like a clever serial killer – the likes of Ted Bundy – and he has only one purpose: to look pretty and harm us, while operating under the guise of keeping us safe.
But being creative and daring – and dreaming? Well, that is ANYTHING but safe.
You must think of fear as a serial killer – who serially kills not helpless women – but any dream you might dare to dream.
I don’t know about you…but I don’t have time for any serial killers in my life, unless Benson & Stabler are hunting ’em down. 
Nope. I’ve let that serial killer known as fear kill quite enough dreams for me, thank you very much.

No thanks, fear. I’ll let you keep me safe and protect me from REAL harm, but, I will NOT let you keep me from my dreams. No longer.
And, here’s the thing I’ve learned.
I strongly believe that when you exert just a little bit of bravery into that dream energy, your dream meets you at the gate in spades. “Oh, you auditioned for that part that scared you to death and made you face your ego?” It says, “Bravo!!! I’ve got another audition for you as a reward.” Yep. That’s what I’ve experienced in my 9-lives of a life.
The more you show up – and you’re not scared to fail, the more you’re met with success.

 

It all began with Adirondack chairs…

With casting director, and dear friend, Sarah Katzman

With casting director, and dear friend, Sarah Katzman

I met this beautiful birthday girl, casting director Sarah Katzman, in Cape Cod over 15 years ago, where I sat – a heartbroken 21-year-old, clad in a powder blue fairy outfit, with glitter eyeliner – at a costume-themed wedding, where my lifelong crush was getting married.

There, we sat next to one another at the afterparty, overlooking the water in Adirondack chairs, where I spilled my juvenile heart, and she cheered me up, with her talk about LA, where she currently lived and worked, and the place I hoped to move to, upon college graduation the following May. I remember feeling very alone, and I remember feeling that not only did she tolerate me, but that I had made a friend, and, thus, was a little less alone.

That friendship continued – and, was tested – when I did indeed move to LA in 2000, and my mother and I proceeded to drill her about everything from what hotel we should stay in, to where I should live, to where we should eat, to where we could get furniture, to where we could get manicures. It is one of my most favorite times in life, and she helped make the transition from my family home to my adult home, both easier – and sweeter – for my mom and me.

I am forever grateful for that, and I am so thankful to know this dear heart – the kind, listening girl she was to me when we were sitting in Adirondack chairs, the lady she has become, and the strong woman who lives just a hop, skip and a jump away up Hauser…and just around the corner from Vinoteque. Love you, Katzman. Happy birthday. ** My tee: CloverCloth

Dear 15 Me: Heidi Klum

Dear 15 Me: Heidi Klum

Dear 15 Me: Heidi Klum

I caught up with the gorgeous (inside & out) Heidi Klum at the UNICEF ball last week at the Beverly Wilshire, here in LA.

Here’s what she had to say to her @dear15me self:

“I would do the same thing. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but you learn through your mistakes – you know your heartaches, or the silly, stupid things you’ve done in the past. Life is a roller coaster, so you need to have the good, bad and the ugly. You need all of that stuff to grow as a person.”

Thanks for sharing your hindsight wisdom and truth, Heidi! Such a pleasure chatting jewelry and advice with you! #Dear15me

p.s. Thanks, @milanwrld for introducing us!! 💗

*Photo by Lookbook LA

Golden Globes weekend has begun: Never too much Möet!

Golden Globes weekend has begun! Never too much Möet!

Golden Globes weekend has begun! Never too much Möet!

And, Golden Globes weekend has officially begun!

Loved celebrating the start of a golden weekend with the official sponsor, Möet, as they celebrate 25 years of Möet Chandon sponsoring the Golden Globes.

And, what better way to celebrate than watching – & honoring – the films of future Golden Globes winners, and announcing the winner of The Möet Moment Film Festival?

@hereisgina @rachelsheedy @tennisfreak71 @wearefromla & #davidguillod had the difficult job of judging these fine films. A bubbly night all around… 

xoxo,
Dawn

Dear Miss Golden Globes: An Open Letter to Miss Golden Globes 2016, Corinne Foxx

Miss Golden Globes 2016 and me

Miss Golden Globes 2016 and me

Dear Miss Golden Globes 2016 @CorinneFoxx, It was lovely to meet you at the Miss Golden Globes @MoetUSA lunch yesterday at the @beverlyhilton. You carried yourself with such grace and I’m sure you will do the same on the big night, this Sunday.

A lovely, light delicious lunch at the @BeverlyHilton in their rooftop Stardust Ballroom, honoring this year's Miss Golden Globes 2016 @CorinneFoxx...if only I could find some champagne to toast her with. Oh, there it is. Thanks, @MoetUSA for always being there to mark the moment and make it memorable!

A lovely, light delicious lunch at the @BeverlyHilton in their rooftop Stardust Ballroom, honoring this year’s Miss Golden Globes 2016 @CorinneFoxx…if only I could find some champagne to toast her with. Oh, there it is. Thanks, @MoetUSA for always being there to mark the moment and make it memorable!

I enjoyed our talk so much that I forgot to tell you that I met your father @IamJamieFoxx years ago on the set of Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday – when I was a real-life college kid, and a Player’s Wife, in the movie and he was the star – in Dallas, where we shot for a month.

To get to see a guy where I was from playing in the big leagues, so to speak, was incredibly inspiring to a girl who was planning to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment the following year after she graduated. I was really overwhelmed by his friendliness, charm, passion and personable nature on set. He made every single person in the stadium – from the extras to the crew to the rest of the cast – feel like they were important. He loved entertaining the stadium crowds (especially on his birthday) and made everyone feel like he was putting on a show just for them, even though we were in the middle of shooting an Oliver Stone movie. He loved what he was doing, and was so grateful to be doing it. That’s a rare, precious gift to have, I’m sure you know.

I have never forgotten that kindness and zeal, and I believe it’s one of the million little ways I learned how to treat people in this town, and to love what I’m doing, no matter what I’m doing. As my own life becomes increasingly a bit more public, I’m reminded of these experiences of successful people in entertainment who are kind and behave accordingly with the manners their mamas raised them with. It looks like he has passed those same manners on to you.

Soooo...when do y'all think it's a good time for me to tell this photographer at the @moetchandon Miss Golden Globes luncheon that this isn't really mine? 🙊

Soooo…when do y’all think it’s a good time for me to tell this photographer at the @moetchandon Miss Golden Globes luncheon that this isn’t really mine? 🙊

As your embark on your career, may your rearing and past lessons guide you, and may you look forward with optimism to your future. As bright as your beginnings may have been, it looks like you’ve got an even brighter future ahead of you.

Wishing you so much luck on Sunday, Corinne…may you shine brightly.

xoxo, Dawn

#MoetMoment

 

Sandra & Lynn…and Pamela: Body Image & Our Personal Power To Make The Choice

Today on my walk/run, I listened to my dear friend Lynn Chen’s The Actor’s Diet podcast from last year, and her guest was actress, Sandra Oh, of Grey’s Anatomy fame.

This perfectly imperfect fallen leaf reminded me of myself, and of all of us. Our imperfections make us beautiful.

This perfectly imperfect fallen leaf reminded me of myself, and of all of us. Our imperfections make us beautiful.

As I saw this perfectly imperfect fallen leaf on the ground, I found it to be no accident that Lynn and Sandra’s conversation about body image and the pressure of a preferred body type in Hollywood was playing in my headphones.

Lynn: “Do you believe the pressure to look a certain way exists…for real?”

Sandra: “The pressure exists, and the pressure cannot exist…at the same time. It comes down to ‘What voice am I going to follow?'”

Lynn: “How do you quiet that voice when it is screaming in your head?”

Sandra: “Sometimes, I give my voices a name, ‘OK, just breathe, Pamela. I can hear you, Pamela. I know you’re angry.”

I’ve heard Pamela in my head a few times too, I think.

Girl gets around.

I met Sandra Oh last spring, when we were both invited to a gifting meeting by a fashion designer, & our appointments were double-booked. So, we basically had to shop together, which some actresses of her caliber might not exactly be comfortable with. She was with her mom, who is beyond adorable, and to see them interact was the sweetest thing ever.

As the designer offered to give her everything, I was amazed at how genuinely grateful and gracious Sandra was.

There was no entitlement.

No ego.

No expectation.

Just gratitude.

I realized listening to the podcast today, how we really do have the choice of how we want to be.

Are we going to feel entitled and feel disappointed when life is short of our expectations?Are we going to feel let down by people who don’t live up to who we want them to be? Are we going to see billboards with women with less body fat – or a bigger cup size – than us – and then feel like less, or feel hate for our bodies?

I sure hope not.

And, I hope that more conversations like this can occur between all women and girls, so we can learn to calm those vicious voices in our own heads.

I also hope that when Pamela rears her head in Sandra’s head, she hears my voice of gratitude now.

Thank you for leading by example, lady. And, thank you, Lynn Chen & The Actor’s Diet, for giving us a platform on which that dialogue can occur.

xoxo,
Dawn

This is not just a pen.

Seems mighty appropriate to be signing contracts – for a big announcement I’ll be making in the coming weeks – with this here pen.

This is not just a pen. It's a sign of women stepping into their power. And…my, how it sparkles!

This is not just a pen. It’s a sign of women stepping into their power. And…my, how it sparkles!

This Swarovski pen was a gift 4 years ago from my former boss, Barbra Streisand. I brought it along with me today, specifically to sign these contracts, because of the woman from whom it was given.

I learned so much about how to conduct business in Hollywood, how to treat people, and how to give back, thanks to her, and her assistant, Renata.

I learned that the biggest dreams do come true if: “You feel it. You see it. You understand it. You say it. You do it. You make it happen,” as Barbra once said.

I am so thankful for every job I have had that has brought me to this place, every lesson I have learned, every opportunity given to me, every act of kindness extended, and every powerful woman, who has taught me how to step into my own power.

xoxo,
Dawn


Site Design by: Shindig Shoppe :: Site Development by: The Star Factory