I paid almost $800 in preparation to be a seat filler at the Oscars

Taiyler Simone Mitchell in the audience of the 94th Academy Awards.
The author stood in front of the stage following the Oscars.
Taiyler Simone Mitchell/Insider
  • I was a seat filler at the 2022 Oscars award show.
  • Between my makeup, dress, and accessories, I spent almost $800 in preparation to attend the event.
  • But that was a drop in the bucket compared to spending by other attendees.

I volunteered to be a seat filler for the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday. And while I got to attend the annual event for free, I spent almost $800 preparing for the event.

We were responsible for holding the seats of the attendees in the audience if they got up from their seats to mingle, sneak away to the bar, or run to the restroom. Seat fillers make the audience look full even when other guests step away.

Our main assignment was simple: to blend in with the industry professionals who spent thousands of dollars for the experience.

We were required to wear black or navy blue and told to dress conservatively.

Taiyler Simone Mitchell posing with an oversized Oscar award.
The author posed next to an oversized statue of an Oscar award.
Taiyler Simone Mitchell/Insider

I ended up purchasing a single-sleeved black dress with a leg slit on a site called Promlily for $148 after taxes and shipping. 

The dress arrived on Friday — two days before the Oscars and a day that I was traveling back from a week out of state.

Considering the fact that I risked shipping delays and having a tiny window to buy a new dress if things didn't work with that one, I might have played it a bit unsafe.

But I was ultimately pleased with my purchase when it arrived.

I got my hair done a day before the show.

The author received a silk press at O My Hair Studio in Los Angeles.
The author received a silk press at O My Hair Studio in Los Angeles.
Taiyler Simone Mitchell/Insider

I went to O My Hair Studio in Westchester, Los Angeles. My amazing stylist Katrina Vickers silk pressed my afro for $75. I paid an extra $40 for a trim, $35 for a protein treatment, and gave her a $40 tip.

My hair hasn't been silk pressed before so the curls were fighting to come back after my salon visit. 

A nonnegotiable for me was getting my makeup done.

Makeup artist Kimberly Paige's full glam look on Taiyler Simone Mitchell.
The author got her makeup done.
Kimberly Paige

Because I don't wear full makeup very often and I didn't want to risk messing it up before going to a high-profile event, I hired a makeup artist in Los Angeles named Kim Paige to do my face for me.

I paid $160 for the entire service: $100 for a full glam look, a $45 travel fee, and a $35 tip.

I also knew that I wanted to get my nails done, so I paid for a manicure.

Taiyler Simone Mitchell's manicure
The author showed off her full set.
Taiyler Simone Mitchell/Insider

I went to Get Nails in Culver City, California, eight days before the show to get my nails done. I traveled the week before and wanted to have manicured nails during that time as well.

My full set was $80, and my basic gel pedicure was $47. I also gave my manicurist a $15 tip, but my pedicurist left the salon before I was able to tip her.

We were advised not to wear heels because of all the moving around we would be doing and were told to keep jewelry to a minimum.

Sandals purchased from JCPenney
The sandals the author wore to the event.
Taiyler Simone Mitchell/Insider

This crushed my heart because now I could only dream of running into Beyonce in heels. I instead bought sandals from JCPenney for $44.09 after taxes and a $20 discount.

The purchase was an emergency decision made the day before the Oscars because I could not find comfortable shoes to match my dress anywhere else in the mall, and another online shoe purchase I made previously fell through.

I also spent $63.94 for JCPenney jewelry — some of which I did not wear. 

I needed a purse to carry my necessities.

A Black clutch from Amazon
The author showed off her clutch.
Taiyler Simone Mitchell/Insider

I bought a black evening clutch from Amazon for $25.99 before taxes to carry my phone, lip gloss, and other must-haves. 

All in all, I shelled out $784.02 — a fraction of what other guests spent.

Journalist Taiyler Mitchell in the audience of the Oscars as a seat filler.
The author posed for a picture in the audience of the Dolby Theatre.
Taiyler Simone Mitchell/Insider

Getting dressed up is worth it every now and then — especially considering that attendees can end up paying up to $10,000 for their Oscars experience, People Magazine reported in 2017. The experience was unforgettable and I'm happy I spent every dime. 

Editor's Note: The author updated the total spent after updating the tip amounts for services.

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