NKU Alumna’s Three-Peat: It’s Another Emmy for SNL’s Cara Hannah Sullivan

Cara Hannah Sullivan and fellow winners from Saturday Night Live had a little fun after receiving their third straight Emmy. It was a long time coming ... "Our Emmy category is 45 minutes into the ceremony. Calculate the celebratory drinks before hand, the excitement of the day, and those SPANX you have been wearing since 2 p.m. … well, it really puts things into perspective."

"...When you win a second time, you are shocked. But a third time?!
It’s stunning and there are no words to describe that moment."

By Ryan Clark
NKU Marketing + Communications

The Three-peat.  Michael Jordan did it. Derek Jeter did it. Aretha Franklin did it nearly three times at the Grammys.

Add Cara Hannah Sullivan’s name to that list of three-time champions after she won her third consecutive Emmy Award last week for “Outstanding Hairstyling for A Multi-Camera Series or Special,” which is a fancy way to describe where she works: Saturday Night Live.

After three wins, the 37-year-old NKU alumna (’00) says the experience has changed a bit – although the thrill hasn’t faded. But she was able to bring her daughter along for the ride this time.

Inside NKU reached out to Sullivan and asked her to tell us about her experience. Who does her hair? What is it like when you hear your name called again? When do you get a chance to go to the bathroom?

My Night at the Emmys

By Cara Hannah Sullivan
 
In 2000 I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts. NKU inspired my love of theatre, which led to film and television! NKU allowed me to explore the many different areas of theatrical design and production and develop a real appreciation for the hard work each department – props, makeup, costumes, set design, writers, lighting, etc. – puts into the final product. And when the audience – whether 25 people or seven million people – claps and cheers with approval, that’s when you know you did OK!

Now I am a hairstylist at Saturday Night Live, which means in four days, we create over 80 different hairstyles, most of which are wigs. Each week, original hair designs can include anything from turn-of-the-century dog-walkers to Mid-American airplane passengers with Mohawks. We also do hair replications of celebrities, politicians, athletes, news personalities – the list goes on. Average wig application time is 90 seconds during the live broadcast every Saturday night. Some of the coolest people I have met are: Betty White, Josh Hutcherson – who is from Northern Kentucky, by the way, Justin Timberlake, naturally, Jim Parsons, Lena Dunham, Louis CK and the list goes on.

On top of SNL, I have the privilege of working at Late Night with Seth Meyers, assisting in the hair room. I have always said that if SNL ever goes out-of-business, I’d love to work for a late-night talk show.

There is nothing like winning an Emmy for the very first time. It is the most unbelievable feeling. When you win a second time, you are shocked. But a third time?! It’s stunning and there are no words to describe that moment. Well, except maybe asking to see the envelope to make sure there wasn’t a mistake. One of the coolest things about this year was that I got to share my Emmy win with my 11-year-old daughter, Rachel.

I always do my own hair and makeup. It’s a whole process! My husband will tell you that the magic starts happening, in the hotel bathroom, around 11 a.m. He pretty much vacates the premises until I am in the last stages of my Emmy transformation. The first year I came to the Emmys, I brought tons and tons of hair products. But now, I have it down to a science: Travel size hairspray, UNITE Expanda Dust, UNITE Beach Day texturizing spray, wide-tooth comb, teasing brush, BaByliss travel hairdryer, and a small curling iron.

I also got to do Rachel’s hair, which was a real treat for me. She knew exactly how she wanted to look for the Emmys: Braided hair on top, curls hanging down the back and small sparkly hairpins strategically placed throughout the braid. Voila! She told me that she felt beautiful and that she was happy to have a mom that did awesome hair. Insert a small tear of happiness here.

When Natasha Lyonne – from Orange is the New Black – announced that the winner for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special was the team from Saturday Night Live, I had a slight out-of-body moment. But then I jumped right up and mustered my way through the audience – we were buried deep – and jolted to the stage.

If you are fortunate enough to have won your category, you only get 40 seconds from the moment your name is called, sprint up the stage, give your acceptance speech, then you are forced off the stage with the Sanford and Son theme song if you go over. We went over!

A little backstage information: After you have received your Emmy and have given your acceptance speech, you are whisked off stage where you must turn over your “display model” Emmy. Then you are asked to give small interviews with Yahoo, E! and other news affiliates. Finally, you are taken to the trophy room where you sign your name in the Emmy recipient book, receive your actual Emmy and pose for a series of official Emmy pictures.

And that is where the bathroom picture comes into play. Our Emmy category is 45 minutes into the ceremony. Calculate the celebratory drinks before hand, the excitement of the day, and those SPANX you have been wearing since 2 p.m. … well, it really puts things into perspective.

I nearly slammed in to Jon Voight as he was coming out of the men’s room.

It’s really just unbelievable to win an Emmy three times – in a row! I don’t think any of us saw that coming.

NKU alumna Cara Hannah Sullivan was able to share the experience of winning her third straight Emmy win with her 11-year-old daughter, Rachel.

A Look at Cara and Rachel's Night at the Emmys