When Woman’s Day called to ask if I would like to spend a week schmoozing at the best Hollywood restaurants and taking in the sights of Los Angeles before attending the world premiere of La La Land, there was no hesitation. Yes, yes, yes!
The film stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling - two of my favourite actors - and this was the perfect excuse to explore some of the hot spots of the showbiz capital of the world, where I’ve been living for the past three months since getting hitched to the man of my dreams, Millen Baird.
We have a beautiful apartment right next door to The Grove, a glamorous outdoor shopping centre that’s decked out like Disneyland for Christmas. Mills and I love it, but it’s nowhere near as flash as The Redbury, an old hotel in the heart of Hollywood, where my LA experience begins.
My room is huge, with a four-poster bed, a chaise lounge and a big kitchen, plus fur rugs and lamps littered all over the place. I feel like Marilyn Monroe the minute I step through the door. This is my home for the next three nights – score!
But I have to work for it. The next morning, I’m taken to Prevail, a boxing gym the Victoria’s Secret models go to. I can see how they all have such amazing bodies now. The workout is intense. I’m writing this four days later and my whole body is still sore.
The trainer learns my name and spends the next hour using it to get me moving: “Let’s go, Siobhan! You can do it, Siobhan!” It’s hugely motivating, but a little disconcerting that he doesn’t seem to know anyone else’s name. And I’m gutted not to see Amanda Seyfried, who apparently goes there.
Glamour to go!
Back at The Redbury, I put on my bathrobe – one of my favourite things about hotels – and swan about my fancy room while waiting for my make-up team to arrive to get me ready for the La La Land premiere.
The Glam Squad is an ingenious service you can book via an app kind of like Uber. The team of two turn up with blow-dryers, hair tongs and a suitcase full of make-up, and ask what I’d like done. I say, “Just do what you do, Hollywood-style.”
This means a blow-dry – they call it a “blowout” here – with big American curls and lips that go well beyond my lip line. I can’t stop doing kissy lips all night. Who needs collagen injections?! I slip into my dress, which I had made for me in Vietnam, and spend the next hour roaming around taking terrible selfies, feeling “so LA right now”.
A very suave Tesla arrives to transport me and a group of foreign journalists to the premiere, housed in a beautiful old cinema, the Westwood Village Theater, where there are rows of photographers and fans lined up to see the stars.
My first thought is that the red carpet is rather lengthy. That’s a long way to teeter on high heels and pose for camera after camera! It really is a strange experience.
Inside, the cinema is buzzing with people who'd worked on La La Land, including director Damien Chazelle, who gives a speech about how hard it was to get the movie made. Producers looked at him like he was nuts when he pitched them a musical about aspiring entertainers set in LA. He is such an inspiring guy and just 31 years old!
Next to speak are Emma and Ryan. Yes, the Ryan Gosling. In the flesh. In the same room as me! He chats about how he never thought he’d do an old-time musical as he thought that period in film history was over.
Ryan, dapper in a dark suit, and Emma, elegant in a gorgeous gown, seem very down-to-earth and funny, and they bounce off each other well. And that chemistry between them translates easily on to the screen. I love La La Land and totally understand the Oscar hype it’s generating right now.
Following the premiere, we go to the after-party, where the wine is flowing, the catering is extensive and the line at the women’s loos is long. I chat to lots of interesting people, but I’m still buzzing about adding Emma and Ryan to my list of LA celebrity sightings, which includes Kristen Stewart, Jake Gyllenhaal and Lily Collins.
The rest of the trip goes by in a blur of delicious meals. I try lobster macaroni at my new fave LA restaurant Paleys, then ride Harry Potter’s broomstick at Warner Bros. Studio. I spend a night listening to killer jazz at an underground club and visit the famous Griffiths Observatory, checking out the spots where La La Land was filmed.
This experience has made me realise just how inspiring this town full of good food, crazy exercise fads, famous faces and exciting history really is. What a great way to start my own adventure in LA. Thanks, Woman’s Day!
La La Land is in cinemas now
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