Expert Advice

Beauty Bus' Big Break on Secret Millionaire

July 11, 2011 | 12:16 AM

When Alicia Marantz Liotta, co-founder of the non-profit foundation Beauty Bus, received a request from a producer to be part of a documentary about successful businesses in a floundering economy, she almost said “no.”

“We were back and forth about doing it because it was right before Beauty Drive, our major fundraiser of the year,” said Liotta.

During that time, Liotta and Beauty Bus co-founder (and Liotta’s cousin), Wendy Marantz Levine were Beauty Bus’ only two employees and were trying to figure out how they would pull off their annual big fundraising event. But the producers of the documentary assured them the cameras would not hinder their daily work—and it would only be three days.

Liotta and Levine, who founded Beauty Bus after Liotta’s cousin/ Levine’s sister—Melissa Marantz Nealy—passed away from ALS in 2005, agreed to be a part of the documentary.

The Real Deal

The producers were not making a documentary, but were, in fact, there to film a segment for the ABC reality show, Secret Millionaire. The show debuted in March and features successful self-made millionaires who have decided to reward unsung heroes in communities across the country with hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money.

Beauty Bus, which was launched in July 2009, reaches out to patients who suffer from diseases and illnesses with side effects that affect their appearance and overall well-being.

A beauty professional volunteer visits the patient and their primary caregiver in their home to treat them to a beauty service. Beauty Bus also uses volunteer “buddies” who attend the visit and help the professional with paperwork and creating a fun, salon-like environment.

Beauty Bus caught the attention of one of the Secret Millionaire’s participating millionaires, Ali Brown, and that’s how Liotta and Levine became part of a reality show.

“We didn’t suspect at all,” said Liotta. “They chose a volunteer for us to put through training. On the second day she went as a buddy with Robbie Schaeffer, owner of RobB OPI Concept Salon in Los Angeles, to a patient’s house for a Beauty Bus visit,” she added.

“The next day, we met with the volunteer to debrief— which we thought was a little weird.”

At the debriefing, the volunteer confessed she had not been completely honest. Ali Brown told Liotta and Levine that she was an entrepreneur and mentor (, and wanted to help Beauty Bus grow. Brown then presented them with a check to help expand and grow Beauty Bus.

Expand and Grow

Since the filming last year Liotta and Levine have used the windfall to hire a program manager, a development and program associate, and a part-time program coordinator.

“We are now a staff of five and have office space, rather than operating out of a room in my house,” said Liotta.

The show airs April 10, on ABC at 8 p.m. EST. To learn more about Beauty Bus and its 2011 Salon Partnership Program, visit

Beauty Bus' Big Break on Secret Millionaire
Beauty Bus founders Alicia Marantz Liotta (left) and Wendy Marantz Levine (right) with a client serviced at one of Beauty Bus’ virtual salon events at the Ronald McDonald House in Hollywood.

The ABC reality show, Secret Millionaire.

Beauty Bus' Big Break on Secret Millionaire
Beauty Bus client Harry Andronis and his niece/primary caregiver Mary Andronis were featured in the Secret Millionaire episode. Sadly, Andronis passed away from ALS in December a few months after the episode was filmed.

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