Ingrid Michaelson is a beautiful, but unassuming fair-skinned redhead from Staten Island, New York, but with a little make-up she can become Beyoncé, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga or even a member of KISS. The singer transforms herself into six of the most recognizable music superstars for her video “Blood Brothers.”
The song off her latest album, Human Again, is about the connections people share with one another, no matter how different they may seem. She wanted to keep this same theme for the single’s video.
The idea to have Ingrid morph into pop culture icons like Madonna all started with an email she sent to directors, Dylan Steinberg and Shervin Lainez, who have both worked with her before. In the email, Michaelson included a few black and white photos of famous singers (none of which were used in the final video) asking if they could find a way for her to become these stars. Though, Lainez says that they toyed with the idea of using prosthetics, they decided it would be classier to use makeup. Michaelson suggested finding someone from Broadway who knew how to do stage makeup. Lainez reached out to the team responsible for Broadway’s current superhero.
“I just blindly was like, ‘What’s a show that has great makeup?’” Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark,” he told CBS Local. “They have like weird goblins and I just went to the website and emailed the head of the makeup department.”
Four days later one of the show’s makeup artists, Brian Hennings, wrote Lainez back: “We love Ingrid here. My specialty is transformative makeup and I want to do it.”
In less than a month, Hennings created all of the wigs and mapped out the makeup for each look, all while doing up to six shows a week for the Broadway hit. But how did they finally decide on who Ingrid would become?
“We kind of just chose people that you could recognize immediately,” Lainez says. “So we went through a bunch of names, which would have been amazing, but we had to pick people that were just like unmistakable.”
Ingrid, Lainez and Steinberg eventually decided on ideas like Gene Simmons’ KISS makeup, David Bowie’s iconic lightening bolt face and Gaga’s hair bow. They had originally planned to turn Ingrid into Elvis, but she ended up looking more like a pretty little boy than the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. They also scrapped an idea to turn her into Michael Jackson. “It was just too weird,” Lainez admits.
The two directors did have a clear favorite though: Amy Winehouse.
“It was just so striking,” Lainez says. “That hair, the makeup, the tattoos, which Henning made himself, everyone was like ‘Whoa, this is so beautiful and sad at the same time.’”
For the New York City shoot, Michaelson sat still in a chair for 12 hours; only taking five-minute breaks between makeup changes. The 15-hour shoot though wasn’t too hard for Steinberg, who also directs her video series, Army of 3, where she covers pop songs in interesting ways.
“Most of the video was stop-motion, so once we started, I just kind of sat and watched the picture,” he says. “Ingrid put in all the work.”
In the end though, the three were happy with what they came away with and have been excited to see what fans are saying online about it, especially the confusion over some of the makeovers.
“A lot of people thought Beyoncé was actually Celine Dion,” Lainez says. “It goes to black and white just like the ‘Single Ladies’ video, but I love that, because I was thinking it would be so great if people don’t know, like, ‘No it’s definitely Celine Dion! No, it’s Beyoncé!’ That’s fun for me.”
Were you able to pick out all the characters in Ingrid’s video?
-Shannon Carlin, CBS Local