“I find myself just walking around the house sometimes with a glass of wine in one hand, and my Oscar in the other, thinking to myself, ‘Can you believe this?’
While working on the set of the David Arquette movie The Tripper in Santa Cruz, California, Tami Lane ’96 received an unforgettable phone call. “The phone rang in my hotel room at 5:30 a.m., and it was [co-nominee] Howard Berger calling to tell me we were nominated for an Oscar. I was so excited; I just started screaming. I think I woke the guy up in the room above mine. I just couldn’t go back to sleep,” remembers Lane.
That early morning phone call was just the beginning of what would be one of the most unbelievable experiences in Lane’s life. Lane arrived at work that day to find that her co-workers had decorated her desk and work area with streamers, blown-up latex glove “balloons,” and a handmade Oscar statue. Little did Lane know she would soon hold the real thing; her own gold-plated, 8-and-a-half-pound statue for best makeup in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Lane was the lead prosthetic makeup artist on the film, responsible for leading a team of 42 makeup and prosthetic experts. She works as a freelancer and does jobs for KNB EFX Group Inc., co-owned by Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero.
Lane shopped for her own Oscar evening gown, shoes, and handbag, and the costume designer she worked with on The Chronicles of Narnia hooked her up with some jewelry. “I wore $60,000 worth of jewels from Erica Courtney of Beverly Hills. The only thing they needed from me was an imprint of my credit card and a copy of my driver’s license,” laughs Lane. “Don’t worry, I gave the jewels back, but it was hard.”
Lane spent the greater part of March 5, the day of the 78th Annual Academy Awards, at Berger’s house, having her hair and makeup done by a team of specialists hired by Disney. At about 2:30 p.m., she hopped into a limo and was on her way to the awards. “I called my mom almost every hour. I called her from the limo, and then from the lobby of the Kodak Theatre. It was funny, but I couldn’t call her when I was backstage because I didn’t have a pocket in my dress. I wasn’t thinking ahead like Sandra Bullock, to wear a dress with pockets,” quips Lane.
Just before the award for best makeup was announced, Lane, Berger, and other nominees were ushered through a hallway where they were greeted by Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, and Judi Dench, then to front row seats seats for the announcement of the award. “All I heard was ‘How-,’’’ says Lane, “and I was whipped up on stage.” She describes what it was like to stand up in front of that crowd: “You wonder how you got there. It’s so surreal. I was standing up on stage and Howard was talking, and I was just looking out at everyone. That was pretty amazing. Later, all these people that you admire come up to you and congratulate you. It’s hard to describe; you just can’t imagine it.”
En route to the press room after the pair received their Oscars, Berger introduced Lane to Jennifer Aniston. “She was very nice,” says Lane. Berger and Lane were then photographed and escorted to the lobby of the theatre. “We got some gin and tonics and just looked at each other and giggled,” says Lane. “Uma Thurman, who knows Howard from Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, congratulated us.”
Lane and friends ate dinner at the Governor’s Ball, then drove by Elton John’s post-party (too crowded) on their way to the Vanity Fair party. “We saw loads of famous people, in fact, they were all famous!” says Lane, “It was like being in a People magazine.”
A week later, Lane brought the Oscar home to Peoria to share her experience with family and friends. A party was held at Agatucci’s restaurant to allow friends a chance to “meet Oscar” and catch up with Lane. “The party was fantastic,” says Lane, who admits she didn’t realize how much local news coverage she was receiving until she made it home to Peoria. “It was great to be able to share the experience with people from the Peoria and Bradley communities. I wanted to bring the Oscar home so that everyone could enjoy it as much as I do.”
Now it’s back to work as usual for Lane. She is working on Disney’s Underdog, a live-action movie version of the classic TV cartoon, and doing prep work for the Narnia sequel, Prince Caspian. She and Berger are also appearing together in a series of short segments about prosthetic makeup airing on the Disney Channel. “I’m told that I can probably put my rate up a little bit,” says Lane, “and I’ll get a lot more respect from colleagues in the industry.” Lane also plans to join a makeup artist union. “Other than that, I hope to keep doing what I’m doing and maybe win another Oscar,” she adds.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” says Lane. “I find myself just walking around the house sometimes with a glass of wine in one hand, and my Oscar in the other, thinking to myself, ‘Can you believe this?’ It’s been an incredible ride.”
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