The news spread like wildfire. An Enterprise woman got ambushed in New York City Thursday, Dec. 21.
“You have caused the biggest stir in Enterprise since the last person stole the Boll Weevil off the Boll Weevil Monument,” was the message Mary Cannon texted Kay Roper as word of her “makeover ambush” circulated. “I just cracked up when I read that,” Roper said. “It was my five seconds of fame.”
Roper was visiting New York City with her daughter and two granddaughters when she was selected for the “makeover ambush” segment of The Today Show, a daily live national morning show broadcast on NBC television.
The trip to New York City was an early Christmas gift from Roper to her daughter, Rana, and grandchildren Kaki, 17, and Kaylie, 14, because their husband and father, Col. Rob Holcek, was deployed to Iraq with the 47th Combat Support Hospital for the year.
“I knew they didn’t want to be at home (at Fort Lewis, Washington) trying to have a normal Christmas when it wasn’t normal without dad at home,” Roper said. “So I said, ‘I’m going to treat y’all to a trip to New York City for Christmas.’”
The four women met up in John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and stayed in a hotel in Times Square.
“As soon as we got there, the girls told me they were taking me to The Today Show to get an ‘ambush makeover,’” Roper said, adding that the Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb segment of the national morning show features a beauty makeover for two randomly-selected audience members on Thursday mornings.
“They told me to show up with no make up, messy hair and looking rough,” Roper said. “I said, ‘Easy peasy,’” she added, laughing.
Having arrived in New York City the day before, the foursome showed up outside the television station Thursday,. Dec. 21. “We were standing outside in the freezing cold at 5:45 a.m. so it wasn’t hard to look rough at that hour,” Roper recalled, laughing.
Roper’s daughter and granddaughters carried two signs that they held up to attract the attention of the television show producers who came out to scan the crowd for ambush candidates.
One sign said “Three generation girls trip.” The other sign said, “This lady is an Army wife, retired; an Army mom; Army mother-in-law; Army aunt; and, Air Force aunt. She’s been supporting troops for 49 years. Please make her over.”
It is the second sign that Roper credits with getting the producers’ attention. “The producers came out and talk to people to get a feel for who is receptive to being made over and why,” Roper explained. “And then (celebrity hairstylist) Louis Licari and (Today Style Squad member) Jill Martin make the final decision.
“I really think I was chosen because (the producers) liked the military aspect of our story,” the retired educator who has taught in seven states and who has made 27 military moves in 30 years, said.
The Ropers have lived in Enterprise for 15 years. “Which is about five times longer than any other place we have lived,” she added with a smile. “Enterprise really feels like home.
“I couldn’t believe it when they chose me, for the makeover” Roper said. “I was excited because the girls were so excited.
“When Jill (Martin) asked what I expected from the makeover, I said ‘Uh, a miracle,’” Roper laughed. “But I really wanted a makeover because I was going to have a big birthday ending in ‘0’ and I wanted a new look for the new decade.”
Once inside the makeover room, Roper was given a pre-selected outfit to try on. “I only tried on one thing because they liked the way it looked.
“Then they took me to the professionals and my hair was cut, colored and styled. Then they did a complete makeup, to include individual false eyelashes.
“I wear glasses because I am virtually blind but they asked me not to wear glasses because it would interfere with my false eyelashes,” Roper said.
“The professional makeup artist told me basically what she used on me and gave me some tips on how to apply it,” Roper said. “They did give me the formula they used on my new hair color.”
Roper wasn’t nervous during the makeover. “Their approach was, ‘You are already beautiful, we’re just going to make you a better version of yourself,’” she said.
There were no mirrors in the makeover room so Roper had no idea what to expect. A second makeover ambush candidate was being “made over” concurrently and Roper could see her but had no idea what she herself looked like until “the big reveal.”
“So that reaction that you saw on TV was really a spontaneous reaction because I had not seen anything,” Roper said. “Just to see the girls’ reaction was great fun.”
Roper's daughter told the show hosts that her father generally colors her mother’s hair and it brought the house down when Roper joked that her husband “expects compensation for doing it.”
The network gave Roper the outfit she modeled, with the exception of the shoes and jewelry. “They put substitute suggestions for the outfit on their website,” Roper said. “I had loved the necklace and my husband bought it for me for Christmas, which was a very nice surprise.”
Roper said she likes the hair color change and so does her husband. “They did give me the formula for the hair color but my husband won’t be coloring it anymore. I’m going to take it to my professional hair stylist.”
Roper’s hair is naturally curly and the makeover hairstyle was decidedly straight. “I’m going to need some tutorials on how to do my hair so I’ll be going to see Kelli this afternoon,” Roper said about her longtime stylist Kelli Owens.
“Overall it was just a fun, exciting experience,” Roper said. “The trip would have been memorable anyway but the makeover was something that my girls will have great memories of.
“God is so good—this trip was so fantastic with so many memories,” Roper said. “So there you have it—my five seconds of fame.”