Duluth theater artist channels Diane Keaton, Amy Winehouse, Kit Harrington and more in yearlong project
Annelisa Roseen has been paying homage to celebrities celebrating birthdays every day since March 25, 2020.
On a recent Tuesday evening, Annie Roseen had a date with Diane Keaton’s face. The Duluth artist’s phone screen showed dozens of images of Keaton that Roseen had collected — pictures she would later sort through to study the actor’s nostrils and eyebrows, width of face, her expressions as Roseen committed to her own transformation.
The result, which she later posted on Instagram and Facebook , was Keaton as Annie Hall: black bowler hat, white shirt and tie, of course, but also the mounded cheeks, signature downward squint and Keaton's small mouth.
“It’s a good way to pay homage to someone you think is a great artist,” said Roseen, who has been reshaping her face every day since March 25, 2020, when she brushed out her hair, and the frizziness of the look reminded her of a 1970s Gloria Steinem.
It was the famous feminist’s birthday, so Roseen posted the photo in tribute.
“If I were to redo her, I’d probably focus on her nostrils a little more,” Roseen said during a recent conversation on Zoom.
In the nearly 300 days that have passed since she posted the Steinem likeness, Roseen has recreated looks ranging from full glam soap opera star Susan Lucci, with a massive nest of brown hair and a pucker, to Kit Harrington as Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones,” with bushy and concerned brows, a shade of beard and draped in fur.
She was both Mary Kate and Ashley, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Maria Bamford and Cher — right down to the tongue placement.
These transformations, as she calls them, have been a pandemic project for the director of BOLD-choice Theatre Company, a group that tours original productions that offer education and awareness of people with disabilities.
“This is an insane time,” Roseen said. “I’m used to directing all these people and having all this energy going into doing costumes.”
Happy birthday, Sissy Spacek
Roseen is a costume person. She goes big for Halloween and Choice, unlimited’s annual masquerade ball. For Christmas this year, she and her husband, musician Toby Thomas Churchill, had a Russian-themed dinner for two complete with decorative glassware and nesting dolls — and dressed like a czar and czarina.
Also on Christmas: Roseen celebrated Sissy Spacek circa “Carrie,” the Stephen King move adaptation about a bullied high school student with an oppressive mother who discovers she has lethal supernatural powers.
Roseen went wide-eyed, hair and face dripping with blood for the look.
There are loose parameters to Roseen’s project: She decides on her subject a day in advance, but gives herself just about an hour to complete it, take the photo and remove the makeup — the amount of time it typically takes Churchill to make dinner.
Occasionally, the timing doesn’t synch.
“Toby will have dinner with half me, half Carol Burnett,” she said.
She won’t buy anything new just to be a new person for an hour, she said. On the other hand, she admitted, “Not many people have 40 wigs already at their house.”
Churchill said that sometimes the transformations are extreme enough that it seems like there is somebody else in the house.
“It’s just normal now,” he added. “I’ll walk by the bathroom, and I’ll see in the mirror that she has a new nose drawn on.”
Roseen’s work is about more than contouring her face into a new shape — she also considers the person’s specific facial expressions. Her Steve Buscemi has long, droopy eyelids and is full-lipped. Her unsmiling Louisa May Alcott is stony and serious — very mid-1800s.
Judd Nelson, as John Bender from “The Breakfast Club,” has a don’t-care mouth and an anti-authority eyebrow raise.
“I want it to be kind of an immersion into a person for just a short time,” Roseen said. “Like method acting for an hour.”
'I think your wife is Bret'
Occasionally Roseen’s images will attract attention to someone way outside of her modest social media following.
On May 17, she was Australian stylist Tabatha Coffey — short hair, arched brows.
“Awe thank you,” came a response from the star’s verified Instagram account, along with two emojis of a winky face blowing a kiss.
“That was in the beginning, so I thought, ‘Oh, they’re all going to see it,’” Roseen said of the celebrities she’s channeling, then added with animated humor, “No. They’re not. Yeah, J-Lo’s really going to see it on her birthday.
"Me with my 35 followers.”
Still, in mid-June, she was Bret McKenzie of “Flight of the Conchords.” Churchill Tweeted the image to his co-star, Jemaine Clement.
“I think your wife is Bret,” Clement responded.
“We were like ‘Jemaine wrote you!’” Roseen said.
Among her followers is Sasha Howell, a costume designer at the College of St. Scholastica who is also an instructor through the school’s dignitas program. She teaches a class about how costumes and fashion form identity — which includes the ritual of getting ready.
“It blows me away that she can change her face shape through makeup — almost unrecognizably,” Howell said. “Some of what she is doing is iconic, and everyone knows the person. She also does people I don’t know; I’ve had to go look up a few. It’s gotten me interested in what she’s doing.
“I wonder what her closet looks like,” Howell added.
Roseen has coined the term “post-prom blues” to describe that period after an event, a big show, a wedding. She really likes having something to look forward to, she said.
“This gave me a ‘What’s next’ every single day,” she said. “It’s structured time. It’s creative time.”
Not to mention that she loves stories about how people's lives are revealed through their face.
“Either their expressions or the lines or how they have started to hold their face,” she said.
There are also generational shifts to faces, she has noticed, and the way that women in the 1960s and 1970s were saying new things with the way they presented themselves.
“It’s different, it’s looser, it’s owning sexuality more,” she said. “Whereas the 1950s were primmer, unless you were a wildcat and you’d do crazy stuff — and those ladies are fun to do, then, too.”
There are times, too, when she leans more abstract. Tina Turner was a video with Roseen beneath a Turner-eque wig shimmying in a shimmering dress. For Prince, she stood against a paisley backdrop in a white flouncy shirt and purple coat. The photo focuses on just her hands and guitar.
Her Kamala Harris image was of a Converse with a foot on a pumpkin with a tuft of yellow-white hair.
Roseen said she plans to complete a year’s worth of faces, then focus on something new. For now, though:
“I get to be glamorous in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. “Suddenly I get to be Sophia Loren for an hour. It feels nice.”
Follow Roseen at instagram.com/sojourner_77.