For many of us, the Toronto International Film Festival is a chance to enjoy a night on the town, check out some buzzy movies, and hopefully have a meet-cute with Michael B. Jordan. But for the celebs, publicists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and hundreds of others hustling behind-the-scenes, the festival is a grind (albeit a fun one). We asked some of TIFF's insiders to spill on how they spent their busiest hours.
7:30 a.m. — My fiancé makes me a matcha and brings it to me in bed, like usual while I listen to The Current on CBC. I get up and do 25 minutes of a workout called Essentrics. I like to do Essentrics before I have a press day or a red-carpet appearance because it helps me focus on my posture. I can be a bit of an introvert, and when I have to do press, I can start to cave into myself. During my workout, I put on an Omorovicza Ultramoor Mud Mask. I love doing this before appearances because it brightens your complexion and plumps everything.
8:30 a.m. — My hair and makeup team arrive to my house and we do a quick look for my daytime press. I’m really inspired by Shiv on Succession right now. Her entire wardrobe is the answer to the modern-day power suit. We created a look that felt inspired by that. Since the movie I’m promoting is called American Woman and it’s set in the '70s, we were also feeling a bit inspired by the '70s and actresses like Cybill Shepherd.
10 a.m. — I grab my smoothie and hop in the car to head down to the Intercontinental hotel where I’ll be doing a bunch of press with my American Woman co-star, Hong Chau. It’s the first time I've seen her since we premiered this film at Tribeca [Film Festival]. She tells me she arrived in Toronto this morning on the red eye. She’s just such an awesome person, she cares so much about the work that she does, and we have a really nice time talking about the film together.
1:30 p.m. — I get in the car again and head back up to my neighbourhood to have lunch at Impact Kitchen with my mom and my agent. We talk about press and some other things that are coming up in the future. Then I have a quick phone call with a director with whom I might be working. I basically have lunch and take a meeting at the same time.
3 p.m. — I wash off my makeup from the morning, put on the Tata Harper Hyaluronic Serum mask. My skin is very sensitive so when I have to wash off makeup and reapply makeup within the same day, I need something that’s going to really help hydrate my skin.
3:30 p.m. — My dress arrives from the tailor. It was all very last-minute. My stylist, Annabelle Harron, shipped it from Italy, and it only got here the day before. My hair and makeup team arrive again, and we start to create the look for the evening. I’m wearing a Fendi Couture gown they lent me that has a very romantic feel, so we want to bring a little bit of romance to the look. My hairstylist, Rebecca, and I decide we want to wear my hair back because I haven’t done a look with my hair back yet at a festival. My hair right now is a bob, so she was able to create a beautiful updo with literally no hair. That’s a testament to her talent. During hair and makeup I try to drink four or five glasses of water. It's helpful to stay hydrated when you're going to be photographed.
4 p.m. — While I get ready, my manager comes over. Usually film festivals are so crazy, and TIFF is really crazy and there’s so much going on, but there’s this added level of comfort because I get to sleep in my own bed and get ready at my own house. There’s a level of familiarity there which usually calms any nerves I do have.
5:15 p.m. — We get in the car heading towards Roy Thomson Hall. Traffic is true to Toronto: completely insane. We almost miss the red carpet because the traffic is so nuts. We’re all having this discussion about whether or not I should get out of the car and get onto the streetcar and if that would be faster and what that would entail. Or also, how many blocks I am willing to walk. It is really desperate.
6:15 p.m. — We end up making it. Right before I step on a red carpet, I’m nervous. Honestly, every insecurity that I have about myself physically is playing out in some way in my mind. I think it’s really important to say that because you always see these beautiful pictures of actresses but there’s so much that goes into those images — the teams of people and many people’s opinions about beauty and fashion. There’s so much pressure about looking the right way and having a good photograph and where that photograph will go. When I step out on to the red carpet, I have to remind myself that in a way there’s a performance happening. I just have to breathe and try to project myself in a way that’s going to exude warmth and love and not nervousness.
6:30 p.m. — We are introduced by Cameron Bailey, who’s the artistic director and co-head of TIFF. We all go out on stage, greet our audience, and introduce the film. Then we go backstage to have a moment to take some photos with the cast, the director, and the producers. Then we go back into our cars and drive over to Elgin Theatre, where the film is also playing. The audience is full of my friends and family.
8:30 p.m. — While the movie is playing, I meet some friends at the restaurant Terroni, which is like two blocks from the Elgin Theatre. My favourite dish at Terroni is the Funghi Assoluti so I order that and eat my dinner really quickly.
9:30 p.m. — I head back to the Elgin for a Q&A with Cameron Bailey and the cast. The audience is really impressive, and they ask so many engaging questions. It's really rewarding to hear from the audience right after they have seen the movie. That’s the coolest part about presenting films at film festivals. Toronto audiences are so intelligent and open and engaged and so whenever you premiere a movie there you always get to have this incredible discussion about the movie.
10 p.m. — We go to the afterparty which is at the Elevation Lounge on King West. All my friends and family are there. I’ve been shooting a movie away all summer, so it's really nice that everyone came. It’s nice to see so many people in the community come out to support our director Semi [Chellas] because she started her career in Toronto. There are two bars. It's a very '70s playlist because the movie was set in the '70s. We just spend the night partying and dancing and having fun.
2 a.m. — I go back to my house, take off my gown I’ve been wearing since 5:30 p.m., kick off my shoes and go to bed. I have to get up early because it’s my fiancé’s brother’s wedding this weekend and we have to catch a flight and we didn’t pack. We wake up at 8 a.m., get all my clothes that I borrowed for the film festival ready to return to the designers, and then we jump in the car around 10:30 a.m. It’s pretty wild.