It takes high energy and a certain amount of charisma to make it in the kids entertainment industry. And London-based Coolabi’s licensing executive Evelyne Brink has so much of both, she needs other ways to express herself. In particular, by performing Madonna’s ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ live on a broadcast that drew millions of primetime TV viewers in the UK this past December.
Brink, who grew up outside Frankfurt, Germany, recently competed on BBC’s reality show The One and Only, which pits iconic pop star impersonators against each other for the grand prize of a three-month contract to perform in Las Vegas. Brink, a natural Madonna look-a-like with the feisty attitude and entertainer’s drive to match, brought her five years experience as a tribute performer to the small screen for a chance to win.
Being on the show, focusing only on perfecting her singing and choreography, was a dream come true for Brink. And as a self-professing diva, she makes no bones about enjoying the glam factor. ‘The costumes and wigs were custom-made for me,’ she says. ‘I was wearing about US$10,000-worth of gear and had an entourage taking care of me – I loved it.’
Long before making her TV debut, Brink was constantly being told that she was a dead-ringer for the Queen of Pop. So upon moving to the UK from New York, she decided to give it a try and was soon scooped up by an agency. Since then, she’s honed her renditions of the full gamut of Madonna songs, working gigs that have ranged from performing in front of 50 people in a family pub to playing 2,000-seat corporate gigs and flying to Beirut for a 15-minute appearance.
‘I start my gigs with her later material because her hair is nice and suave. And then, as the show progresses, I mess my hair and get younger,’ she says.
As for the show, the world of reality competitions is a tough one, and Brink was eliminated from the show, leaving the quasi-Kylie, Sinatra, Cher, Britney Spears and Tom Jones to battle it out on stage for the glitzy contract. Not that it’s slowing her down. ‘It’s not to say that I won’t get the opportunity to perform in Las Vegas without the show. You never know,’ she says. Besides, Brink has her sights set on bigger and better opportunities in television and show business, namely becoming a television presenter.
So where does licensing fit in? Brink stumbled into the business in 2004. With the expectation of settling down in a media-related office job, she took a licensing position at 4Kids International in London, which eventually led to her current role at Coolabi.
However, there’s no business like show business, and Brink’s itch to perform couldn’t be suppressed. So, with the support of Coolabi’s management team, she now works for the IP house part-time, while satisfying her lifelong passion for entertaining.
As for her role at Coolabi, her love of kids entertainment and toys still leaves her with enough enthusiasm for the brash world of licensing. ‘Coolabi is expanding, and it’s a brave, fresh company that puts itself out there and takes risks,’ she notes. ‘I’m proud to be a part of that.’