PRIDE in London has become one of the capital’s biggest and most popular events. But what's it like behind the scenes at PRIDE and how does it feel to be part of the action? We asked our fantastic GSG member, Teresa Weller of Teresa Weller Hair Art in Dorking to pen us this unique blog, sharing her experiences of being the lead hair stylist at PRIDE since 2014.
Over to Teresa…
I’m starting this blog the night before PRIDE in London 2019. My call time is 9am at Seventa Make Up Academy Soho. I’m always nervous and excited before a big job and I know I won’t sleep well. I’ve been on the phone for an hour tonight to the team of Tony award-winning American Broadway theatre performer, Billy Porter to discuss his hair requirements for his headline performance in Trafalgar square tomorrow, and now I know…….this is a BIG deal!!!
This year’s PRIDE is bigger than ever and is especially poignant as it is the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall rebellion, which took place in Manhattan in 1969. The 2019 London parade has been hailed as the biggest and most diverse yet.
Major stars appearing this year are Renee Zellweger, Sir Ian McKellan, Sam Smith, Little Mix members Jane Thirwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Saara Aalto, Sinitta and, headliner, Billy Porter. They are joined by many more acts dancing, singing and performing across five stages!
I’ve had the privilege to work at PRIDE London for five years and have had amazing experiences. I’ve met truly inspirational people from backstage crew, volunteers and activists to producers, singers, dancers, drag queens, comedians, actors and TV stars. It’s been an honour to work with icons from the LGBTQ community and we’ve all become part of the Pride family, which year on year continues to grow.
How did it all start? I was lucky to meet Jeff and Juan from Seventa Make Up Academy at the first of many London Fashion Weeks in 2013. We hit it off and worked so effortlessly together that they asked me to put together a hair team to do the hair for PRIDE in 2014. I created a small team using friends and stylists I had worked with over many years and I’m thrilled to say, this fab team have stayed with me for every PRIDE since, travelling from far and wide to create their magic. Morgan, Millie and Aaron are just some of the stylists who have been so professional and helped make the team so successful.
For my second year at PRIDE, I managed to get support from milk_shake Hair UK. They sponsored us via their product ranges for three years. They also sent their ambassadors and educators to work with us backstage and it was awesome working alongside Kelly Summerfield, Andrew Smith, Becky and Shelly Pengilly. Last year Wella sponsored us and, this year, I managed to get Revlon Professional UK to sponsor us with their new Style Masters session styling range.
So many people over the years have asked me why do I do PRIDE? Why I volunteer my time for free, not just for the main event, but for the three months before preparing for the gig while running a busy column after recently opening a new salon in Dorking?
While I love meeting celebrities, adore hearing the music, and am excited to work in incredibly cool places, this is not why I take part in PRIDE. For me, the whole message and ethos behind PRIDE is why I take part. Love is love and we all have the right to be ourselves, to be equals, to be loved and to be accepted for who we are.
One of my most emotional moments was two years ago when Sadiq Khan called the whole crew on stage at Trafalgar Square to listen to him talk and to observe a one minute silence for those who lost their lives in the bombing outside the gay nightclub in Orlando. I managed to get to the front of the stage with him as I had just been chatting to him while doing his hair. I’m also short so I wanted to see the crowd of 20,000 and, I have to confess, that a little bit of me wanted my family to see me on the TV during what was a very special moment.
Another great year was when I was hanging out with the lovely boys from Blue in their VIP portacabin for most of the day. It was so hot that I had to keep redoing the hair! The headline act that year was top singer, Rebecca Ferguson, and we were so pushed for time that I had to run with her onto the main stage to finish pinning her hair up!
Not only did I get to watch her perform from the wings, but I got a call the next day to ask me if I would go on tour with her! A few months later and just one week after I got married. I was flown around Europe staying in five star hotels with the lovely Juan Lopez from Seventa Make-Up Academy for Rebecca’s European tour.
So there’s the history and now you’re wanting to know how PRIDE 2019 shaped up. This year our team was more slick and organised then ever with some new faces on board. I took my secret weapon with me in the form of my salon’s insanely talented Creative Director, Egidio (Gid). He has so much experience and we work brilliantly together so I could totally count on Gid to handle the hair of the stage artists while I went to style Billy Porter in a hotel nearby.
Meeting and working with Billy was incredible! He has true star quality and I styled his hair while watching make-up artist Juan Lopez create fantastic make-up for Billy’s headline performance.
My own guilty pleasure this year was having Renee Zellweger in the hair and make-up tent. She delivered a truly moving and heartfelt speech on stage and is a lovely lady. I am a massive fan, with all my friends calling me Bridget, and I was a little star struck. But, thanks to Gid, I managed to get that all important selfie and will treasure it forever.
So as I wrap up this blog giving you an insight into this year’s PRIDE and my history with this amazing event, I am already busy planning for 2020! I’m always looking for new hair and make-up artists, so if you want a backstage pass to get a unique insight and be part of this fabulous event, get in touch!