WJXT-TV Channel 4 viewers are familiar with news anchors/reporters Melanie Lawson and Staci Spanos. Both have been part of the station’s Morning Show roster for years. Viewers may not realize that beneath their professional exteriors beat the hearts of a diva and hard rocker. A few months ago, photographer Steve Janowicz made Lawson and Spanos an offer they couldn’t refuse. Simply put, he said they could be whomever they wanted to be, including dressing up with bold hair and makeup, and he would take their photos. Despite a few nervous jitters at the start, both jumped at the chance. “Being a part of the ‘alter ego’ photo shoot was an amazing experience,” says makeup artist Paulina Perez. “Hanging out in the makeup room with Melanie and Staci and transforming them into their alter egos was so fun. You really get to know someone when they turn into their fantasy character.”
“Melanie’s look inspired Laura and me to shoot her in two settings,” says Janowicz. “The first was on the red couch as her normal TV persona, then again on the other side of the same couch as Beyoncé. The best part was adding two Orange Park High School students, Kiara DuBose and Ashley Schofield, as backup dancers for the ‘All the Single Ladies’ shots.”
“I had a wonderful time transforming during the shoot,” says Lawson. “I was a little nervous about putting on a one-armed leotard and tights and turning into a diva. But Steve, Laura and the team made me feel like a star. I’ve been doing my own makeup for TV for years, but this was something special. The face of a pop star is very different than a TV anchor.”
Melanie’s hair was another area of focus. “I was a little skeptical that stylist Frederiche Gray wouldn’t be able to get Beyoncé’s ‘Single Lady’ bump. But he was determined to get my hair as high as it would go. With the backup dancers there it wasn’t long before I felt like a true diva. The entire crew stayed the whole time to make sure I had the necessary primping to maintain the look.
Next up was Lawson’s on-air comrade Staci Spanos. Her job every morning is to deliver the day’s news with poise and professionalism. Having fun while doing so is fine, but the newsroom is hardly the place to express one’s inner rock star. However, that’s exactly the alter ego Spanos wanted to be—for one afternoon, at least.
“After this photo shoot, I can understand the allure of playing dress up as an adult,” says Spanos. “I frequently fantasize about being a good singer and since I have to be fairly straight-laced in my profession as a journalist, rocker chick seemed like a nice fit. Preparation for the shoot was a little like a spa day. I was pampered by hair and makeup pros who took the photographer’s vision and put it on steroids.
“For me [the shoot] was one tinged with excitement, exhilaration and a little bit of fear and hesitation. Most of us play the same role day after day—responsible employee, wife, mother. So, to break out of that role for even an hour felt a little scary. Once we got the rock music pumping and I let go of ‘me,’ it got easier and the whole shoot became much more enjoyable.”
To see more of Melanie’s and Staci’s Alter Egos photo shoot, including behind-the-scenes shots, visit PalmTreeStudios.com.