I was supposed to see Mandy Moore at the Beacon Theater on March 24th. As a lifelong Mandy stan (Standy?!?), I was looking forward to her comeback tour. This would have been her first tour in 13 years; she was promoting Silver Landings, the long, long, long awaited follow-up to 2007’s Wild Hope. Like all other live events, her concert was postponed due to the global pandemic. I’ve been listening to Silver Landings on vinyl – “Trying My Best, Los Angeles” has become my quarantine anthem, even though I’m a New Yorker who’s stuck in a tiny Manhattan apartment.
On a Monday night in March, during my somewhat typical quarantine sobfest, I scrolled through Instagram seeking respite from reality. I saw that Mandy Moore, and other celebs like Lance Bass and Busy Philipps, are recording Cameos for charity. I impulse-purchased two minutes of Mandy’s time in exchange for a donation to No Kids Hungry.
Two days later (on the night I was supposed to see her in concert), I received a glorious text that read “Your Cameo is ready!” My hands fumbled in excitement – I couldn’t click on the link fast enough. I sat on the couch, tearing up while watching Mandy’s sweet message. Her warm, genuine, personalized pep-talk turned out to be the best form of self-care I’ve ever done for myself – and I can rewatch it anytime. It’s the self-care gift that keeps giving.
It’s a strange experience to receive a deeply personalized message from someone whose career I’ve followed since 1999, when Mandy was singing about craving love sweeter than candy. In the Cameo, Mandy sits in the comforts of her own home, talking to me like she’s just another human who’s also struggling with COVID anxiety – because she is. Hearing her personal account of how this pandemic makes her feel made me feel less alone, less overwhelmed. Technology, as annoying as it can be, has made moments like this possible.
I first learned about Cameo when Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray made a breakup video that went viral last fall. The man who hired him turned out to be behind a hoax, but Cameo and McGrath’s fundraising for AIDS research are very, very real. That viral video served as many peoples’ introduction to the world of Cameo.
Cameo’s website states their service perfectly: “Book personalized video shoutouts from your favorite people.” The app lets high-profile celebs film selfie-style videos for charity while those lesser-known folks can use Cameo as an additional income stream.
I’m not the only one seeking comfort in the power of a selfie-style celeb video during the pandemic. Lisa Smith, an author, lawyer, and recovery advocate recently sent a birthday greeting to a friend in Singapore from singer Lisa Loeb. “We’re both fans it felt like the three of us were connected and celebrating together. It absolutely blew him away!” she gushed.
Want to buy yourself or someone else a Cameo as a form of self-care that also has a charitable component? Here are some other musicians who are recording personalized messages for a good cause:
- Country singer Lee Brice is donating 100% of the first 100 videos he makes to MusicCares.
- R&B singer Sparkle, also seen in the docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, is raising money for an undisclosed charity.
- Grammy-winning guitar legend Steve Vai is collecting donations for Make a Noise Foundation.
- NSYNC’s Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick are also collecting donations for unnamed charities.
- And of course, you can always book Mandy Moore.
Broadway’s musical theater world has joined in on the charitable ventures, too:
- RENT’s Anthony Rapp is donating a portion of his video for (RED) for the fight to cure AIDS.
- Tony-Award winner and cancer survivor Marissa Jaret Winokur lets her fans pick which charity their money will go to Trevor Project, Animal Avengers, or Prevent Cancer Foundation.
- Beetlejuice’s Dana Steingold is raising money for Benefiting the Actors Fund.
Cameo has even launched a 3-day online event April 16-18th benefiting people who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 featuring Mandy Moore, Akon, and more. Events include Celebrity Game Night, Drag Queen Lip-Sync Battle, and Love is Blind convos. Saturday night’s music-based events include Iconic Rockstars: a panel of rock stars, including Andy Black and Dee Snider, talking about life in the music biz, a hip-hop panel with N.O.R.E., Akon, and Trina, then they’re closing it down with a Saturday Night Jam with musicians of all genres.
Thanks to the internet, I’m still able to be a Standy (I’m still trying to make Standy happen) by catching up on This is Us or watching Mandy and her hubby’s Sunday night Instagram live performances. And of course, I can rewatch my Cameo to bring me out of my quarantine sobfests.