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Sarah Silverman just exposed the upsetting reality of awards season red carpets

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The comedian was nominated for her work on her Hulu talk show I Love You America, but she had to fork out for the hair and makeup bill herself.

At the 2018 Emmy Awards, Hulu picked up a record 27 nominations.

20 of those nominations were for The Handmaid’s Tale – nearly double the amount of nominations that show received the previous year, when it became the first television program from a streaming platform to win Best Drama in Emmys history – and the remaining seven were for other shows on the Hulu network. That included a nomination for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series for I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman.

The winner was Saturday Night Live, of course. But the nomination for I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman was a recognition of the work that Silverman has been doing for so many years in the male-dominated comedy sphere. 

Silverman attended in a custom gown by Russian couturier Galia Lahav, all strapless black tulle with a pair of no-nonsense biker boots underneath. With her hair swept up in a topknot and her eyes smoky, she looked fantastic. The comedian partied into the early hours of the morning with her date: her father, Donald Silverman. 

Silverman with her dad at the 2018 Emmys

The next day, however, Silverman woke up to something much worse than a hangover. She was sent the bill for her hair and makeup artists for her Emmys look by Hulu, the streaming network who produced her show and who she was attending the Emmys on behalf of. 

Silverman was asked to pay the entire $1,500 (£1,136) fee herself.

“You know, it’s one of their only shows nominated for Emmys besides Handmaid’s Tale,” Silverman mused on The Last Laugh podcast this week. “Even Comedy Central, like 15 years ago, paid for that shit when I was nominated. I was just flummoxed. Wouldn’t it be worth them paying $1,500 to not have me on [this] podcast saying Hulu wouldn’t pay $1,500 for an Emmy for their network?” 

Silverman was a guest on The Last Laugh to talk about the end of her show I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman. Hulu cancelled the series after just 21 episodes, even after that Emmy nomination, and a nomination from the Writer’s Guild. 

Sarah Silverman on her Hulu show

“I know that they did love the show,” Silverman said. “But I think what it cost compared to its popularity or the eyes that they had on it didn’t – you know, the people that make the decisions there don’t have any connection to the show. So it’s easier for them. It’s probably smart. They make very hard decisions.”

On the podcast, Silverman debated whether or not to tell the anecdote about Hulu forcing her to pay for her own hair and makeup, before deciding “fuck it, guess I’ll just burn this one down. I think it’s a funny story, or maybe it sounds obnoxious and it’s too showbiz-y.” She also revealed that when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018 Hulu didn’t send her an email of congratulations. Netflix, on the other hand, sent her a bunch of roses and donated to a charity in her name.

“That stuff doesn’t mean anything to me – really it doesn’t,” Silverman added. “But it’s just such a bad look for your guys. I don’t want to say ‘appalling’. Separating children at the border is appalling. I keep my overhead very low, but Hulu doesn’t. So they should probably pay for shit.” 

Silverman’s I Love You, America talk show has been cancelled by Hulu

Who pays for what in Hollywood, especially when it comes to the red carpet, is a murky business.

Stylists rarely want to own up to the deals going on behind the scenes that get glamorous gowns onto the bodies of A-listers. One of the only instances of dollar figures being discussed exchanging hands is when Jessica Paster – the woman who dresses Emily Blunt – revealed that actresses can be paid up to $250,000 (£189,000) to wear a certain designer’s gown during awards season, and that stylists themselves can receive up to $50,000 (£37,000) for their work getting that gown onto their clients.

Often, but not always, the film studio will pay for that stylist’s work. This is the case on press tours, when stylists travel with their clients around the world as they promote their most recent films. But celebrities have to pay for the tailoring on their red carpet gowns, which is more expensive than you might think – “my tailor drives a Mercedes and wears head-to-toe Marni,” Paster once told Vanity Fair – and for all the couriering of outfits to and from their stylist’s studios. The film production company won’t fork out for that. 

Elisabeth Moss on the red carpet at the 2018 Emmy Awards

When it comes to hair and makeup, the truth is even more obscured. Many of the celebrities are tied into paid partnerships with beauty brands, with their own makeup artists serving as ambassadors for particular houses, also courtesy of paid contracts. Who pays for what becomes a bit confusing at this point. Is a beauty brand supposed to pay? What happens if the talent doesn’t have an ambassador role to lean on, who pays then? The studio, or the celebrity themselves? It’s not clear. 

But we wonder who paid the bill for Elisabeth Moss’ hair and makeup at the 2018 Emmy Awards, which included a facial with celebrity therapist Joanna Vargas, an ultra-glamorous beauty look from Dior applied by artist Daniel Martin (Meghan Markle’s close friend, who did her makeup at the royal wedding) and beachy waves courtesy of hairstylist Tommy Bucket and a Dyson hairdryer. 

All of that work costs money, as Silverman found out. Quite a lot of money, in fact. But who is supposed to pay for it? 

Images: Getty, Hulu

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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