celebrity

The truth about the ARIAs: "I went with a famous Aussie band and it was far from glamorous."

I want you to conjure up all the images you have of what being a celebrity on the red carpet is like: being pampered with hair and makeup, wearing a glamorous gown and being fawned over by photographers and journalists looking for the perfect photo and story.

Got that image? Great.

Now erase it from your mind.

Because as I learned when I followed a group of famous Aussie musicians down the ARIA Awards red carpet, being a celebrity is nowhere near as glamorous as you think.

I'm not nearly sparkly enough to be a real member of Sheppard.

I'm about to burst your glamour bubble, big time. (Sorry.)

The preparation.

My day starts at 10am, when I meet 2/3 of Aussie band Sheppard - who you may remember from such hits as Let Me Down Easy and Geronimo - at their hotel room while they are getting ready for Australian music's night of nights.

Sisters Amy and Emma have been sitting in the hair and makeup chair since 8am, and when I arrive, they're still very much at it.

When I arrive, Amy and Emma have already been in the makeup chair for two hours.

I notice that one person is missing from the room: their brother George, the band's lead vocalist.

"Oh, he's probably asleep right now. He usually just rolls out of bed 10 minutes before we have to leave for a quick hair fix, then that's it," Emma laughs.

The next hour feels like getting ready for a night out with friends: the girls show me the dresses they plan to wear hanging in their cupboard, and my hopes of slotting into the group as their "new triangle soloist" are dashed when I realise I'm not wearing nearly enough sparkles. Oops.

As Amy finishes in the makeup chair, Emma tries on various belts and clutches with her dress to figure out what will look best.

This year is a little different for Sheppard: they're not nominated or performing at this year's ceremony, but they will be presenting the ARIA Award for the Best Group, the same award they picked up in 2014.

Amy confesses that this year, they have pulled together their outfits themselves; their busy schedule means preparation for the event was "all quite last minute".

"It's normally a huge process of choosing what we are wearing...it starts out fun but it can quickly become quite stressful. It's definitely not as fun as it looks," she says.

Our favourite looks from the 2016 ARIA Awards red carpet. Post continues...

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"The designers might not have what you want, or they are already dressing someone else, or they can't guarantee that [another artist] won't be wearing the same thing."

I ask about every girls' worst nightmare when turning up to a public event: what if someone is wearing the same dress?

"Sometimes you do wonder if that will happen...but we always put our own spin on things with hair and makeup, so it is pretty unlikely," Amy laughs.

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This prompts a long discussion about which earrings Emma should wear. There's a lot to choose from.

Don't believe me? Here's a sneak peek at some of the options that were on offer:

Can't we wear them all?

Questions fly around the room: prawn earrings, or cat earrings? Fluffy or leather clutch? Choker, or no necklace at all?

Every now and then, the girls' attention turns towards the TV screens, where a Channel V hits countdown is playing. They sing along to some tunes, pondering which of the artists they might see backstage.

There's also the very important matter of catching up on the latest celebrity gossip: we talk about Kanye West's breakdown and Amy muses that the atmosphere in the room feels like "getting ready for a wedding".

Nearly Aria ready! @jdolls @hair_by_jools ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️#arias #sydney #sheppard

A photo posted by Emma Sheppard (@emmashepparddd) on

Right on schedule (i.e. 10 minutes before the group needs to leave for rehearsals), George strolls in for a bit of hairspray.

"Oh, to be a boy, in moments like this," he laughs when I ask if he really has just gotten out of bed.

"I got up about 15 minutes ago, tried a few things on, chucked on this suit."

Our conversation is interrupted by the hotel testing their fire alarm system, and just like that, I'm brought firmly back to Earth.

The red carpet
(I.e. that time I wasn't important enough for an umbrella)

I meet up with Amy, Emma and George at The Star after they've finished a long (and very over-time) rehearsal. We're about to catch a limo to the beginning of the red carpet.

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Did I mention that the limo is taking us around the corner? I'm not exaggerating - we are going from one side of The Star complex to the other, and considering my shoes are already hurting, I've never been more thankful to see a car in my life.

As we crowd into the limo, Amy remarks sarcastically, "Oh, the glamour!"

It's (almost) red carpet time!

There are squishy seats and bumped heads and the girls have to make sure that they don't trip over their dresses on their way in.

I ask the group when they think they'll finally be able to relax.

"The whole thing is such a blur," Amy says.

"We probably won't be able to breathe easy until after we present tonight".

#ARIAs 2016 tune in on channel 10 Wearing: @asos_au @lisa_rutter_stylist @hair_by_jools @jdolls @flyingpaloma #sheppard

A photo posted by A M Y S H E P P A R D (@amysheppardpie) on

All three remark that they have barely eaten anything that day, and food is a long, long way away.

Before we know it (probably because the drive is only a minute long), we're on the red carpet.

And the chaos begins.

Out of the limo...and into a pose.

As soon as Sheppard steps out of the limo, the skies open and it beings to rain. It is at this exact point I realise that shielding me with an umbrella is precisely no one's first priority.

When someone has spent over six hours prepping their hair and makeup for an event, it is imperative that they are protected from the elements AT ALL TIMES.

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The band's manager is tasked with shadowing the girls with a white and red umbrella, ensuring that not a single drop falls on their head.

The red carpet was soon a sea of umbrellas.

We spend the next two hours making our way through lines of press and photographers. The same questions are asked by almost every single one (I apologise to George later for this, because I know I've done the exact same thing when I've been on the other side of the red carpet fence).

Publicists and minders battle for the best umbrella spot, and as other stars talk to the press, I notice a few have slipped off their shoes to get more comfy. Passionate fans scream from the street for the attention of their favourite stars.

Interview time = feet resting time.

It continues to pour for most of the time we are there. Emma finds me and says, "Remember how you asked me what's the worst thing that could happen on the red carpet?"

I nod. She said earlier that falling over in front of everyone was her worst nightmare. (SAME.)

"I changed my answer" she laughs, adding, "It's definitely being stuck in the rain!"

I'm regularly asked by others on the carpet if I am "with the band". The attention gets to my head, and before I know it, I have stolen an umbrella from a poor X Factor winner (not really) and am dancing and twirling down the carpet.

I still have no idea why no one wants to interview me - don't they know who I am? - because I am clearly a very important person. The lanyard around my neck says "access all areas" and I wore my very best ponytail for the occasion.

via GIPHY

Soon everybody is screaming and cheering and their cameras are flashing. 'This is it!', I think, 'My moment has finally arrived!'

Then Robbie Williams strolls past me. Ouch.

When we get to the end of the long and arduous red carpet walk, everyone is cold. Everything I am wearing and carrying is wet. I am muddy. My feet are well and truly ruined.

But Emma, Amy and George all manage to keep smiling, dancing and singing for the fans who have stood in the pouring rain waiting for them to walk by. I'm exhausted just watching them.

via GIPHY

My time as a celebrity hanger-on is soon over, and I am relieved that soon I will be able to take off my shoes and eat a burger.

But Sheppard, who've been prepping all day for the night, have a long way to go before they get to relax, and I've never been so happy to not be famous.

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