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This may shock people that know me, but before I was an ambitious automotive intern with dreams of public relations domination, my original passion was theater. Years of dance lessons, four years of high school theater including ten plays and musicals, community theater, eight years of voice lessons and a brief run at a vocal performance major in college had me looking towards the bright lights of the Metropolitan Opera House and Broadway rather than the headlights of the new Chevy Silverado.

I was told in my interview for Franco to expect the unexpected, that I would have a wide variety of experiences during my time as a summer intern, and inwardly I laughed- after all the crazy parts I’ve played from Mama Morton in Chicago to an institutionalized Lucy of Peanuts fame (she set the Little Red Haired Girl’s hair on fire in a fit of jealousy over Charlie Brown-yes this is a real play) what could they possibly throw at me that was weirder than anything that I’d already done on stage?

Then the phone call came from Dan, “Hey Meg, we’re going to need you to play Santa on live TV today.” Suddenly I found myself watching YouTube clips of professional actors doing their best Ho Ho Ho like Tim Allen’s sassy version from one of my favorite childhood movies (does this count as professional development?).  Add to this an authentic Santa Claus costume from my coworker Marie Stawasz, complete with fake eyebrows and an oddly comforting smell of Polish grandfathers and Stawasz Christmases past. Rosy blush applied from our resident make up expert Elizabeth, newspaper belly stuffing and horn rimmed glasses from Alex and I was ready for my debut.

Meg sc

I have to admit, even as a “seasoned professional” I was pretty nervous to step into “the beard.” During my character research I had stumbled on Joe’s blog about being Marshall the Molar for Delta Dental; if you’ve never met Joe, let’s just say this guy makes every Disney male hero run for the hills. This guy fishes, hunts, and played a loveable (healthy) tooth, so I knew I was in for a Game of Thrones type battle for Franco Volunteer Mascot domination.

Santa Collage

Public relations, like theater is full of surprises and my road to mascot dominance was anything but simple. Remember the mall Santa from your childhood? That warm and friendly Grandpa-esque figure that seemed so full of Christmas cheer? What you didn’t know at the time was Santa’s cheeks were red not from blush or inner joy but because he was dying of heat exhaustion. Seriously that suit is hot, and not in a Mean Girls “Jingle Bell Rock” way, but a “I feel like I’m in an oven and being cooked from the inside out kind of hot.” Also beards? How do you men do it? Over the course of a few hours I estimate that I accidentally and unwillingly ingested countless stray Santa beard hairs (does this fall under workman’s comp?).

After all of this and the fact that my fellow employees recorded the whole thing and posted it all over social media to live on in Christmas and intern infamy,  I have to admit that I would do it all again in a sweaty Christmas cheer minute. Between the strange looks and reactions from people on the street on the way back to the office to making the news anchors crack up when I gave them a thumbs up as an answer about a potential Tigers win- I wouldn’t trade any of it. Because when you grow up as a theater kid who was better versed in musical soundtracks than current pop hits and you count Yul Brenner and Judy Garland as personal heroes at age seven, the love of performing never truly goes away, even for a PR intern who spends her day researching steel and soft top convertible covers.

There’s a famous quote by William Shakespeare that says something like “All the World’s A Stage,” so taking old Bill’s words to heart, I will continue to seek new and unique “stages” and opportunities during my time here at Franco- who knows maybe next I’ll get to be an Easter bunny in December, after all even Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis had to start somewhere.

Megan Winans is a PR Coordinator for Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at 313-567-5060 or [email protected].

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