Exclusive Interview: Shaun Robinson, StyleBistro Celebrity Guest Editor
Access Hollywood anchor Shaun Robinson (Getty Images)
If anyone knows their way around a red carpet it's Shaun Robinson, a 10-year Access Hollywood veteran and four-time Oscar red carpet hostess who has interviewed everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Oprah. Shaun is easily recognizable by her genuine smile and perfect skin—her mom and grandma were Beauty Control consultants!—but she is best known for her message: You are beautiful exactly as you are.
In 2009, Shaun published her manifesto, Exactly As I Am. The book includes advice from celebrated women, including Eva Mendes, Alicia Keys, Diane Sawyer and, yes, Oprah, about finding inner beauty and self-esteem. Inspiring young girls to believe in themselves is Shaun's modus operandi: She is also a board member at Girls Inc., a nonprofit that helps girls "confront subtle societal messages about their value and potential and prepare them to lead successful, independent, and fulfilling lives."
Of course, once you've discovered your inner beauty, there's nothing wrong with primping on the outside too. Shaun sat down with StyleBistro to share her tips gleaned from 10 years in a makeup chair and also gabbed about her red carpet style and best dressed celebs. Check out the excerpt from our exclusive interview below!
StyleBistro: Every woman has their insecurities. What are yours?
Ohmigosh. I talk about that in the book. Diane Sawyer says it so funny and succinctly: She said, 'I battle self-esteem every time I look in a three-way mirror.' One of the messages is that the journey to true self-esteem is a lifelong one. It's not something that you ever reach, but you find yourself becoming more and more comfortable in your own skin. We will always have these flashes of insecurity, but as you mature and you really start to realize that you're so much more than what oftentimes society tells us we are, and you just become more solid with yourself, more forgiving of your flaws and happy with the person that you are...I interview the most beautiful, talented, wealthy people on the planet! And are there times when I feel kind of like, uh wow, I wish I had what that girl has? Sure there are times, but they're just flashes. Then I look at myself and I go, okay, I'm doing pretty well and I'm happy with the person I am and the way that I look. Another girl may look at me and say 'I wish I had what Shaun Robinson has.' You know, it's really all relative.
SB: You've been at Access Hollywood over 10 years now. In your early days, were there any celebs who you were particularly nervous to interview?
The first time I interviewed Halle Berry I was thinking, ohmigosh, how absolutely drop dead stunning this woman is. I think she's probably my number one because obviously she's known for her beauty and just being very very glamorous, and I was very intimidated. Sometimes women try to look for flaws on other women—she doesn't have any at all!
SB: You have named Oprah as a big inspiration for your book. How did her participation come about?
When I started thinking about the women who I wanted to be part of the book, obviously Oprah was at the top of my list. When I went to South Africa to cover the opening of her Academy for Girls, that in itself was a life-changing event...I asked Oprah if she would be part of the book and she said she would. And one thing about Oprah, she never says something that she doesn't plan to do. She doesn't say, 'Well okay, send some information to my publicist blah blah blah.' She trusted me, she knew me from years of interviewing her and she said, 'Yes, I will do it.' And she did...She got it back to me quickly and I was very grateful, very thankful for it.
SB: You interviewed some very amazing ladies for this book. Which stories stand out most in your mind?
India.Arie said, 'I'm not the popular look and I am constantly reminded of that. But rather than looking at that and saying I have no place, I make my own place. I hold a place. I hold a space in the music industry that is to speak for the girl who feels like an outcast, the person who is unapologetically different. The woman who says, 'My money maker is not my body, it's my mind.'
I love that one...because so often women and girls are told that we have to fit into this cookie cutter mold of what a woman is supposed to look like—the skin, the hair, the curves, the breasts. And if you don't fit that mold, then you feel like you don't have a place, like you don't belong, like you're not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. Women have to get the place where we believe, and say to ourselves constantly, 'I am not that I am this, and this is just as good as that. And if you don't like what I got, that's totally fine, but I'm rockin' what I have and I feel good about what I have and who I am.'
SB: We know true beauty comes from the inside, but what kind of products do you like on the outside?
I have very sensitive skin so I have to use products that don't break me out. I can't use scrubs or anything like that...I always use moisturizer every single day and at night and I use eye cream also...[I like] things that are very gentle, like Cetaphil, and you can just buy that at the drugstore. Aveda hydrating lotion is very good—it doesn't break me out because it's pretty light. I also like Beauty Control—my mother and grandmother used be Beauty Control consultants. I like their moisturizers, cleansing cream and toner. When I do get breakouts, I will use Neutrogena acne wash.
SB: What are some tips you've learned from your makeup artists at Access Hollywood?
You know, every make artist is different, their techniques are a little bit different. I have two that I've worked with over the last 10 years—Val and Alice. Alice likes lots of blush and lots of gloss. Val likes to focus on the eyes. Both of them always tell me to blend my makeup—blend it, blend it, blend it. When I put my foundation on, I usually use two different types of foundation. But Val and Alice will literally have four or five different colors that they are mixing for me. They don't mess around when it comes to the makeup!
SB: You spend A LOT of time on the red carpet. How has your red carpet style evolved over the years?
I've had a great stylist at Access Hollywood—Nicole Allowitz—and fortunately I've always been able to wear the top designers on the red carpet. But I've learned that certain styles look better on me than others...I have kind of a long neck and anything that covers it is not going to be flattering on me. Some dresses just swallow me because there's so much material, so it has to be a little bit fitted. If it's got just a lot of gathers and stuff like that, that won't work for me at all. I've always worn color that kind of pops on me. I like something that accentuates my shoulders. I've been lucky to have some great choices through the years. Now, I can look at something instantly and I can tell whether it's going to fit or not. I can tell if it's going to look good. It takes time to figure out what is going to look good on you.
SB: How would you describe your personal style?
I like to think of it as kind of sophisticated-sexy if that's a style. On the weekends, I am a T-shirt and sweatpants kind of girl. But in terms of going out, I like things that really fit my body well. I'm not keen on trends. I used to be that way, like, well okay if it's "in" then I have to have it. I'm not like that anymore. I buy more classics now, so I'm really big on things that last. I like color, I like things that flatter my skintone, and I like to be comfortable—I don't like things that are too tight.
SB: What is it like to be on the red carpet at the oscars?
I've hosted the Oscar pre-show four times—I'm very blessed to have done that. It's just so exhilarating to be there. It's the granddaddy of award shows and everybody wants to be there. It's just a feeling like, 'Wow, I'm at the Oscars!' The first year I hosted, I sat in on the award ceremony and Bono was sitting right in front of me!
SB: In your expert opinion, who are your picks for the best dressed celebs?
I definitely think that Halle Berry always looks great. Jennifer Lopez—I think she looks great. I know a lot of people didn't like this dress, but I thought she looked fantastic at the Golden Globes. I think Eva Longoria looks wonderful. Lea Michele—I think she always looks just very fun and fresh. I think she dresses well for her body and she always looks glamorous. Victoria Beckham is really fly—I think she looks great all the time. I have not worn her clothes yet but I want to. Her new line looks great. Oh you know who else looks great—and she doesn't necessarily wear fashions that I would wear but I think I she looks really hot for being an artist and who she is—is Rihanna. She carries stuff that no one else could wear at all—even that red hair!
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