By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — Robin Nowacki was visiting friends in Washington, D.C., with her daughter last week when something amazing happened.
After hopping on a train to New York with friends, Nowacki found out she would be doing more than just sightseeing. The St. Joseph resident got tickets to stand in the plaza of the “Today” show, where she was chosen from the audience to get a makeover on set.
Nowacki and her daughter, Alexis, traveled to Washington to see her best friend and her daughter. After visiting the Pentagon and later the Statue of Liberty in New York, Nowacki’s friend arranged entry onto the show.
The four stood in the plaza at 6:30 a.m. while celebrity hairstylist Louis Licari circled the crowd looking for a volunteer. Nowacki recalled a woman in front of her holding a sign saying “Pick me!” When Licari walked by them, Nowacki’s daughter grabbed her mother’s hair and held it up in the air while pointing at her.
“I didn’t know she was going to do that,” Nowacki said. “He reached his arms through the crowd and touched my hair. Then he asked me if I will let him do anything with my hair. I said, ‘yes,’ and he picked me.”
When Nowacki was taken away, Alexis – who is a Lakeshore High School graduate and enrolled at Albion College – said she was told to come back a few hours later to see her mom on the portion of the show called “Ambush Makeover.”
Upon their return to the studio, Alexis waited in the orange room where she and the others met the guests that were appearing on the show that morning. One was Jeff Kinney, author of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book series, whom they didn’t know but struck up a conversation nonetheless. Afterward, best-selling author James Patterson came in and Alexis’ friend got a picture with him.
A big surprise
Backstage, Nowacki wasn’t allowed to have a phone and there were no mirrors, which kept her from seeing what they were doing to her hair and face.
“You have no idea what they are doing, except you see these locks of hair falling,” Nowacki said. “The only thing you see are the clothes they give you. It was exciting and nerve-wracking because you don’t know what you are going to look like. It was also kind of weird sitting there while they were fussing over me. They don’t ask you anything.”
Before Nowacki went on stage, a cameraman gave her a few instructions because there would be no rehearsal. She was going on live television.
She was told to stand on a star on the floor of the stage. Further instructions included pull your shoulders back and look at the camera. Her daughter and friends were blindfolded, waiting for their own cue. Still not knowing what changes were made to her appearance, Nowacki’s friends got to see what she looked like first.
“I was excited and nervous at the same time because we were on live TV,” Alexis said. “I was just surprised and shocked because she was so pretty. It was funny watching it from home.”
Then it was Nowacki’s turn. Still on stage, she turned around to face her own reflection in a full-length mirror.
“I was surprised. To see that was shocking,” Nowacki said. “I had a lot of makeup on and I don’t normally wear a lot. I had never dyed my hair that much. I had never been fussed over that much. My daughter was surprised. My friend stared at me all day long and kept saying ‘you don’t look like you.'”
Back at her job as a director for Harbor Dental in Benton Harbor, Nowacki said her coworkers forwarded her video clips of her on the show.
Whether she will keep her hair the same way, Nowacki said she is taking it day-by-day.
“I have a little ways to go before reverting back, but I’ll try to keep it for a while,” she said. “Everybody should be able to do something like that. It was a wonderful Christmas touch on the holiday season.”
To see a video of Nowacki’s time on the “Today” show, people can view it at: on.today.com/1RUtNWs.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 26, 2015)