Over a career spanning two-plus decades, Alex Borstein has walked her fair share of red carpets. But she’s the first to admit that experience hasn’t made the whole song-and-dance—of posing for photographs, of finding a dress that fits, of schmoozing up and down the step-and-repeat—any easier. Ahead of the 2019 Emmys ceremony (she’s nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), the actor talks about why she’s never been able to get used to this part of Hollywood culture, and how one of her most common grievances with it actually inspired her brand-new fashion brand.
I dread the red—carpet, that is. I get incredibly anxious. It’s very lonely, even if you have a friend you’ve invited along. And usually you arrive during the daytime hours, and it’s glaring sunlight, and you look like crap with all that makeup not meant for anything other than photographs. You feel like a horse being brought out before the race.
It’s funny: As I’m getting ready, I feel pretty confident and happy—but as soon as I arrive at the event, the terror will set in. You realize, Oh fuck, I forgot how high the bar is. Like, I look amazing for a bar mitzvah, but this is the fucking Emmys! I forget what everyone else is going to look like. So you get there and have to recalibrate and go, Right, okay, this is what it is. This is who I am, and let’s just do this. It’s a role, it’s a character.
In general, I have great self-confidence. But sometimes I have a shit self-image. They’re two different things: It’s important for women to understand you can move mountains, but you can also still feel like you looked better in this dress or that. I’ve always been aware of my body. At a certain point, my tits got too big—that was the first time I realized there are things in life that your body will and will not allow you to do, like gymnastics and running on the beach in a halter top. When it came to clothes, there was always an awareness that certain styles were not made for me.
I’ve always dressed myself for events and red carpets. I’ve never done a stylist because I don’t want to deal with that feeling of trying things and quickly realizing they’re not meant for me. The only designer that I ever fit into nicely without any problems was Nanette Lepore. I could buy that off the rack and feel cute because it fit, both my body and my personality. But otherwise, I’m just not that interested in wearing a name because it’s a name. And I’m perfectly happy to buy everything that I wear.