By Emily Hochberg
Admit it. You’ve looked into the mirror and seen something besides just your smiling face shining back at you. Maybe you think you could be a star. Maybe you look like one. All your friends say it so why not do something about it? Bianca Santos, 29, did and she’ll kick off the newest season of “Look-A-Like” when she gets made over as America Ferrera on the September 24th season premiere on TV Guide Network. Bianca, a broadcasting student in Toronto, with dreams of making it big as a Hollywood actress, is about to become one. We talked to her about just what it takes to be a Look-A-Like, which is available on Fancast now, a week ahead of its television debut on the TV Guide Network September 24. The glitz, the glamour, and the nerves! Ugly Betty is getting a makeover and there’s nothing ugly about it.
How excited are you?! You got to be made over as America Ferrera!
It was SO much fun! It was funny because I initially went as Rihanna and in the waiting room everyone was saying I looked like America Ferrera. And when I was introduced to the panel they were like, Rihanna who? You look like Ugly Betty! And so I was hoping, America Ferrera, right? Not Ugly Betty! It was a lot of fun but it’s nerve wracking because I want to be me but I also want to get made over. And then on the day of it’s really exciting to see the pictures and the hair and the wardrobe and it’s just go, go, go, go. And I didn’t know how involved it was. You see the show but there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes with all the set changes that you don’t see. It was a blast and I had a lot of fun and I love America Ferrera and I’m glad I got to be made over into someone I like and who doesn’t have some crazy persona where I would have to shave my head!
You really went in as Rihanna? You didn’t even think about America Ferrera?
No! The people I get the most are Rihanna and Jordin Sparks and I had gotten America but not nearly as often, which is funny because at the audition she was all I got.
Have you ever been recognized by strangers as her or anyone else?
I think it’s one of those things that I’m just outgoing so if I’m out and chatting someone up and we start talking about celebrities and the industry it might come up, but I’ve never been stopped on street.
Well maybe now that you’ve been made-over as her you will get stopped!
I’m so excited to see what the reaction is going to be, because Look-A-Like is a popular show, it’s one of my guilty pleasures. So it will be really exciting to see what the reactions are with my friends at school.
Tell me about the tryout process. Was this something you were planning for a while? What was it like to show up and audition before the judges?
I went to the website just curious about the new season and they had posted an open call and thought let’s go for it. When I got to the audition there were a lot of people who really looked like celebrities. So it was fun and we were all laughing and guessing who looked like who. But it was nerve-wracking too because part of it is selling yourself and putting on a show. And you go in the room and one thing I didn’t realize was how many people are there with the crew and lights and cameras. I got so nervous and could only smile and had no idea what I was saying. I had this really short dress on and then they asked me to dance so it was surprising because I wasn’t expecting being asked to dance and act silly. But I went with it and came home and had the message asking me to be America. So it paid off. It was scary but worth it and I can’t wait to see how it translates on TV.
So many of these reality competition shows make the judges out to be so harsh and criticizing, was that interaction what you expected it to be?
You know what, I was nervous. People who know me can see the resemblance of Rihanna. But when I told them, the hair stylist said no you just have her haircut. And I totally froze! He said I didn’t look like her AT ALL. But when I said America Ferrera and they loved it, it totally caught me off guard. So there was a little bit of a tense moment because I went in confident as Rihanna and they totally said no, not at all. But when I said America they got really excited and wanted me to act like Ugly Betty.
And then you were – what was the makeover like? It’s not a normal thing for most people to get that experience. Did it live up to your expectations?
What girl doesn’t love getting hair and makeup done and be pampered like a movie star? I started really early and we had to shoot from different angles and do so many takes and keep the energy up but then when we got to the real part of the makeover and put tons of extensions in that was a lot of fun and I got to keep them. And Paul Venoit went full out with the makeup and I learned a lot of tricks from him on the eyes. And then with the wardrobe you have this designer collection with this famous stylist who uses the tricks of trade to make us look our best. It was exciting to see the variety and accessories and shoes and how to sweep your arms this way or tuck in this way to make yourself look really good. And I got really nervous with the photo shoot because you see these celebrities and they look so perfect and all I kept thinking was Tyra Banks – “Fierce, Fierce!” I got a lot of pointers and I learned a lot and realized Hollywood is a big production and an illusion. This made it more real, because then you know a lot of work goes in and it takes a team and a lot of preparation and consultation and planning. It’s a lot of fun but you look at it with new eyes at how much work is involved with hair and makeup. And at the end it looks perfect and natural like they rolled out of bed, but it takes a lot of professionals and experts. And now I think of all those people getting ready for the Emmys and this is what they’re going to go through just to get the right look for a few minutes on the red carpet to be in all the magazines. It’s interesting to see but it kind of takes a little bit of glamour out of it at the same time. But it’s a lot of fun; for a girl, that’s the stuff we live for.
That’s a true behind the scenes view.
For sure, and then it’s make it or break it if she’s a big “don’t!” Think of all those hours they spent getting ready to get a big don’t on the worst dressed list. And all of that is big money if you’re a “do” because then all the cosmetics companies want you and you get clothes for free and are on magazines and you’re the “it girl.” But if not, no one talks about you and that’s the worst in Hollywood.
How do you prove you look like someone? When you were planning to go in as Rihanna, did that go into how you dressed or acted?
I dressed like her. It was when she was wearing a lot of baby doll and feminine dresses so I wore a bright orange short empire-waisted dress with a straight and angled bob and smokey makeup. I wasn’t really acting like her because I was so tense that even if I had planned to act like her it would have blown up in my face because I was so nervous. But I did my best to look like her with my four inch heels and short dress and bronzed my legs since I’m much paler than her. I was bronzing for a week! It was funny too because before me was a Chris Brown Look-A-Like and I thought we should go in together as a couple since they are dating but they didn’t let us.
On the show you are working with stylists who work with stars; how did it feel to be in that same circle?
Amazing because these people are paid top dollar for their expertise and I was getting it for free. I really went in there trying to soak up as much knowledge as I could. When I met with Alissia for wardrobe she had a huge setup of shoes and clothes and accessories and I really picked her brain about how you combine things. She likes to add a little bit of the unexpected. And now can I bring my own unique, personal style. And then with Paul, to get that perfect smoldering eye, and contoured cheek, and perfect pout is tricky without looking drag queenish. So it was fun to watch him work and the colors he used that were best for me. And I also got great advice on what haircut would be good for me and if I should do highlights or bangs. It was free advice from a top glam team who were so generous and supportive and happy to help my dream come true. They were gracious and fun and I felt like a princess.
It’s a makeover show but a different kind of one where you are made-over to look like someone else. Why did you want to look like a celebrity?
At first I was torn. Do I want to look like a celebrity or do I want to look like myself? When I went to audition it changed because I felt that it was more about bringing your own energy to whoever you’re going to look like, not just about being a dead wringer. And America Ferrera has achieved so much and represents a huge and powerful shift in the entertainment industry that it’s okay to be a good girl or to care about the environment and politics and be someone young girls can look up to. And I brought my own Brazilian heritage and enthusiasm to it.
What else did you take from this?
That being yourself is good enough and if you accept that it will shine through. If you embrace all of your good qualities so will other people. This is who I am. Silly and goofy and I don’t have to pick and choose to be fun and successful. You don’t have be tall blonde and skinny, you can be yourself. Good people do finish first.
Did you have a say too as what you would wear as America so you were comfortable as well?
Yeah, her wardrobe was fun because she’s Latin and I’m Brazilian. Were both curvaceous women with hips and breasts. I was a little nervous about how things would fit but I was excited to see what designers I’d wear. When I saw the wardrobe it was things I’d very much like to wear if I could afford them. It was the form fitted couture look with a lot of detail that showed off the womanly curves without exposing too much. It really made my curves work for me and made me feel beautiful. It was really nice to be put in beautiful designer clothes and take what already is great and make it look better and I felt like movie star.
And now that it’s over are you going to keep your makeover? How do you make it work in real life?
Extensions are high maintenance! They are something celebrities do because they have a lot of time and money. But those are gone, I wish I could keep them. But I’ll definitely take away with me the makeup tricks and hair care and Alissia’s unique approach to styling, to do something unexpected and make it your own. I’m definitely more aware that I can wear just jeans and flip flops and a T-shirt but maybe throw in some funky glasses or big earrings or a bright scarf. I’m more aware of what my clothes say about me. When I go shopping now it’s about what it will do for me or add to my personality. I don’t pick black anymore because it doesn’t represent my spirit.
Well, I can’t wait to see your episode!
I can’t either! It’s so cool because there were so many elements and was so exciting that I didn’t want it to be over! I wanted to go to a red carpet! My dream is to be a successful working actress so hopefully one day I could be able to inspire people like America Ferrera and someone out there would want to look like me. I feel so lucky and recommend this experience to everybody. And even though you are being made to look like someone else, it brings out who you are, and if you embrace the opportunity you learn so much about yourself. When you are put out of your element you can learn so much and I’m holding onto that and can’t wait to see the episode.