Famous People
Credit: Ryan Shea

I have had the great fortune, over the past couple of years, to interview people I never in my wildest dreams thought I would meet.  Whether it was for Manhattan Digest, or one of the other wonderful publications I have written for, it has given me an opportunity to connect with famous people who I have admired for so many years up to this point.  There is one major lesson, however, that I have learned from each and everyone of them, and this lesson can resonate with anyone no matter what their profession is.

I did my first major red carpet five years ago, in August 2013.  I was invited to go to the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, which made its way back to NYC after years of being in Los Angeles.  The amount of famous people who were in attendance was beyond anything I could comprehend, as this was an event that had me thrown into the deep end of the pool as opposed to just dipping my toe in to see if I could even attempt to swim.

We are talking big names like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Will Smith, Taylor Swift, etc.  The list goes on and on with famous people who arrived looking like a million bucks.  At that point, I was so green but also so red in the face as I was terrified to even try and call out their name to come over to me.  Not to mention, there was over a hundred press outlets there competing for their attention, and all I had to my name was a publication that was only six months old at that point.

Me and Spike Lee. Credit: Ryan Shea

Even though I didn’t speak to anyone that night, it didn’t stop me from pursuing my dreams and eventually I was granted access to several more red carpets, all with different backgrounds on what event I was attending for each.  I parlayed my red carpet success onto another (and much bigger) publication, which was a complete 180 for me on the red carpet compared to how I started, in that the celebs (and their publicists) approached me.  Not the other way around.  Not too shabby.

Over the course of five years, I have interviewed everyone from Oscar, Grammy and Tony Winners, to architects, reality stars, drag queens, porn stars and everything in between.  And it’s been a freaking blast, as well as a ride that I truly hope I will never get off of.

Me and Shangela! Credit: Ryan Shea

Doing this, however, is a job, and although that may seem like the lesson I have learned from this… its not.  Everything is a job, and yes its glamorous and its fun to see all your favorite stars, many of which I have looked up to since I was a kid, walk the red carpet and talk to you about why they are there.  Even getting in a funny anecdote or finding common ground where they remember you is a blessing beyond anything.

Here’s what I’ve truly learned when it comes to the array of famous people that I’ve interviewed: they are just people.  There are NO special halo’s around them, nothing that makes them any different from you and me.  The fanboy or fangirl aspects that millions of us have is understandable, but when you are talking to so many of them on a weekly basis, you come to the conclusion that they, just like you, are there to do a job.

It’s not taking anything away from the experiences, and I don’t want this to diminish how anyone thinks about their favorite celebrities, but it was always funny to me when I was growing up just how enthralled my friends would be with certain famous people.

Me and Meryl. Credit: Ryan Shea

Granted, I still have my moments where I can’t really believe that I am talking to who I am actually talking to (Meryl Streep, for example), but once my jets are cooled down, I can get the chance to get to know the person as opposed to the actress, actor, etc.  For me, its more about making a connection with someone so that the next time they talk to me, they remember who I am and feeling very comfortable when discussing life things outside of what they are there for.

Perhaps there is a bit of jadedness from me, as I’ve been around the block and have been doing this for so long, but its not like that at all.  It’s more understanding that, whereas its good to look up to people for whatever reason, its also important to know you are on their level and to not feel lesser than them because they have reached some level of fame.  When I talk to who I talk to, I want them to be as equally impressed about my interviewing skills as i am with whatever they are doing.  That goes with anything in life as well: find the common ground, sell yourself to the best of your abilities and don’t be afraid to go for things even if you are scared.

Me and Vanessa Williams. Credit: Ryan Shea

In other words, be the best damn Meryl Streep in anything you go for.