It’s 2 a.m. and her day has already begun.
A short meditation, double expresso and daily horoscope are the kick starters. Then it’s off to the shower, out the door and on to Seven Network Studios in the Martin Place district of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
The essential morning routine is the tried and true method for Cat Sherwin, make-up artist and hair stylist for Seven Network’s breakfast TV lineup: “Seven Early News,” “Sunrise” and “The Morning Show.”
“It’s my little bit of Zen time for day,” Sherwin said. “I find it really centers me with an aura of peace and calm for what’s often a hectic day ahead.”
Beginning with “Seven Early News,” followed by “Sunrise” and ending with “The Morning Show,” the three programs broadcast from 5 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. weekdays, with “Sunrise” continuing to air from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekends.
Programming informs Australian audiences on news, sports, weather, current affairs and entertainment. It’s an ongoing barrage of talk-show TV production that only pauses once a year, on Christmas Day.
Audiences have responded and made “Sunrise” the highest-rated breakfast news program across Australia. It originated in 1991 and is carried out in the tradition of “Good Morning America.”
“Sunrise” has covered a litany of major news including the Iraq War, the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 2010 Copiapo mining accident, the 2010-2011 Queenslands floods, the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, Hurricane Sandy, the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis, the Pope’s morning Masses and many other impactful stories. Musical guests on “Sunrise” have included Usher, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, One Direction, and dozens more.
For Sherwin, her schedule varies and includes make-up and hair styling up to five out of seven days a week at the studio where she participates critically for the production of all three morning shows. She’s been making up and styling show hosts and guests for Seven Network’s morning lineup since 2008, an impressive tenure that’s featured her outstanding work in hundreds of episodes.
“The wide variety of show types offer a huge opportunity for different creativity and experiences,” said Sherwin, who estimates she styles around 5-15 different people per episode. “News has to be often quite structured and serious. Entertainment and weather presenters can be a little more fun and fashion forward. Current affairs programs are often tailored to the nature of the interview.”
“Seven Early News” is presented by Jodie Speers. “Sunrise” is hosted by David Koch and Samantha Armytage. Also hosting “Sunrise” are Natalie Barr (news), Mark Beretta (sports), Edwina Bartholomew (Entertainment) and Sam Mac (weather). “The Morning Show” is presented by Kylie Gilles and Larry Emdur.
“All main hosts are styled first before we move on to guests. We look at the wardrobe of the presenter for the day and any accessories they may have, and also take into account any particular requests the host may have, or a particular look they may want to go for that day,” said Sherwin. “Each makeup artist is given a main host to style, hair, make-up, hair extensions, lashes, then often a male host as well.”
As to guests and interviewees, Sherwin has made up a wide array of people from all walks of life, from abuse and disaster victims, to brides wanting to get married on TV, to rock stars, writers, actors, directors and many more. She’s styled Duran Duran, author Deepak Chopra and actress/model Teresa Palmer, to name a few.
Sherwin has styled for the show’s coverage of the Melbourne Cup and an Opera House concert with Katy Perry. She’s made up the needed looks for on location shoots in any elements, whether rain, cold, heat or any other challenging conditions.
Just before a guest appears on a show segment, Sherwin’s styling duties actually add a psychological component.
“You’re often one of the last interfaces before a person goes on air and if it is a guest who has never been on television before, they can be nervous,” she explained. “I believe it’s my job to help keep people calm and make everyone feel special, whilst also making them feel and look great – often in a short amount of time.”
The reality of Sherwin’s job requires a world of talent, creativity and poise under pressure. She strikes an imperative balance of keeping calm and centered, while also being upbeat and energetic. The nuances are necessities when considering the importance of her behind-the-camera role.
“Your work is extremely visible on the show for the world to see,” she said. “There’s nowhere to hide. You have to get it right whilst also not taking yourself too seriously or getting stressed. It’s also a lot of shift work, so it’s important to look after yourself physically and mentally.”
Sonya Downie is Seven Network’s Chief Departmental Head for Hair and Make-Up and has worked in supervisory production roles for more than 20 years.
“Cat’s work is superb. I have now worked with her for eight or nine years and her work consistently shines,” said Downie. “Cat is a wonderful, dedicated and extraordinary artist, recognized not only for her amazing creative skills, but her professionalism and integrity in the workplace. She is a joy to work with and inspiration to all those who work with her, making her a key choice for our top talent.”
After each morning show has commenced at Seven Network Studios, Sherwin wraps up by washing brushes, restocking product, organizing her kit, returning calls, e-mailing, invoicing and researching different looks for the next morning’s productions.
Upon returning home, she lays out her clothes for the next day and prepares breakfast to take on the go. Another 2 a.m. rise beckons. It’s Zen time once again. And Sherwin wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s definitely a buzz and fabulous to be part of such a big show renowned across Australia,” she said. “It sometimes blows me away how many people watch and have seen me on behind the scenes shots. Often audience members will call and ask what lipstick or blush we have used. It’s amazing that we can influence viewers’ make-up choices and how many people take an interest in what the hosts’ style is for the day. Television is a visual medium after all.”