Toward the beginning of the pandemic, Annelisa Roseen started posting a photo of herself in make-up and costumes looking like a person who has a birthday on that day. The individual images are entertaining and impressive, but when you view the body of work as Instagram thumbnails, you get a much better sense of the variety, commitment, and skills Roseen has to make this work. It’s not just about the props and make-up, the expressions in her face, whether deadpan or over the top, are often the thing that make the connection to the celebrity.
What was the inspiration for this ongoing project?
I had seen that it was Gloria Steinem’s birthday; she is one of my heroes. So when I was brushing out my two-day-old pandemic bun I noticed I was sporting a kind of ’70s Gloria-frizz-do. So I took a selfie (no real make-up or costume) and posted a happy birthday to her. The next day I saw it was Lenard Nimoy’s birthday and thought “that would be funny” to do him today. I studied pics and read up on his life. And then I never stopped! I have been doing my #homageaday every day since then! Every day I pick someone whose work is inspiring or meaningful or has made an impact on culture. I love becoming these (big and small) icons each day! Most days I do an individual’s face, but sometimes I honor their image in a different way — like I did James Brown’s feet dancing on his birthday.
Do you have a background in theater, make-up or anything that led you to do this, or sharpened your skills?
I am a playwright, director, dancer, costumer and actor. I am the director of the BOLD-choice Theatre Company here in Duluth. We are an outreach theater group that creates original plays incorporating social justice issues and disability pride. I have my degree from the College of St. Benedict in the Arts and have been theatrical my whole life. I used to only get to go all out for Halloween!
Where do you find the props, wigs and costumes?
Part of my project is that I have to use what I already have at home. Luckily I am major costume/wig hoarder so it’s not too much of a struggle. Although, I have had to pick someone over someone based on my wigs available (couldn’t do Carla from Cheers; no curly dark wig).
How much planning goes into each caricature?
I look up birthdays and pick the person the night before (and study pictures a bunch). But the actual creation of the character usually only takes the time I have while my husband makes dinner (another parameter I set for myself). Sometimes I don’t have time to de-makeup by the time food is ready and he has dinner with Bea Arthur or Liberace.
Is there an anticipated conclusion to the project?
Just like this pandemic, I have no idea when it will end! I originally just thought I would do one a day during the stay-at-home order but now I am wondering if I should just do a whole year’s worth. I have been working from home and teaching zoom classes the whole time so I could just keep working it in. Not sure. Maybe a little showing of all the photos at the end would be fun.
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