We’ve all been there: the celebrity sighting. We, as fans, freeze in our tracks, spellbound, our faces reflecting the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights awe.
Now what? We think. We muster our courage. Depending on our personality type, we either sidle up or tiptoe discretely up to the famous person who has entered our small world, enabling a brief encounter. Smiling, we turn on the charm. Our hearts race. We open our mouths. Sounds come out. We speak. But what do we actually say?Sometimes, we say the opposite of what we really mean. Sometimes, we cover our surprise with little white lies-that backfire. Sometimes, we put our foot in it. Sometimes, we push.
Here’s my hard-won list of ten things you should never say when you meet a celeb:
- Do you know who you are? The answer is yes. The famous person knows who he or she is (under normal circumstances or unless excess amounts of alcohol or drugs are involved). The name may have been changed to protect the guilty or innocent, but the person inside remains the same. There is only one response here: yes.
- Is that a wig? Oh, this is so unfortunate. Never ask this. Never mention it. The celeb will loathe you. There is only one face-saving response here: no.
- Maybe your next picture (CD, book, video, etc.) will be a hit. In this case, the tactful celeb, will smile cordially and say, “Let’s hope so,” and hail a passing taxicab. However, the less-than-tactful celeb may glare and walk away in a huff. Play it safe and step away. You don’t want to be hit with a loaded shopping bag.
- I have written a (script,book, article, song). Will you give me your opinion? This is the bitterest gambit of all, the most despised of all fan requests and the one most difficult for the celeb to sidestep, although most learn to handle it with a standard response. It is sometimes, but not always, accompanied by this follow-up faux pas:
- What’s your address? I’ll bring it by later. Uh-oh. You have just crossed the line. You have become scary. Now the celebrity may begin to move quickly away, head turning side to side, as he or she seeks shelter from-er, well, from you. Remember, the weirdest truth about the fan-celeb relationship is: you know them, but they don’t know you from a hole in the wall. They have every right to bolt, and bolt they should.
- My aunt in Hoboken says we’re related. Will you give me a job? Now we’re back to not-a-clue. True, you may be the tenth-cousin, once removed, of the famous person standing beside you, but he or she will never believe it, not even if you have the same surname. If you flaunted your birth certificate in his face, it probably wouldn’t matter-unless his aunt in Hoboken told him he ought to hire you-ain’t gonna happen.
- Want to see my headshots (portfolio, audition CD, etc.)? Yikes. Unless the celebrity is giving you “come-on” vibes, he is not interested in your etchings. If he is, that is another issue, one that goes waaaayyyyy beyond the purview of this piece.
- I have a couple of minutes. What’s the secret? Tell me how to make it in show business (sports, music, etc.). You may have a couple of minutes. The celebrity doesn’t! She’s in a hurry. She’s rushing. Chit chat with you is nice, but non-essential. Besides, she doesn’t know the secret. No one does. It either works out or it doesn’t. She waves at you as she runs down the block to meet her approaching limo.
- You aren’t as old as you look. Gasp. Did I just say…? Yes, you did. There is only one response the celeb should make here: thank you. If they have any heart at all, they do know what you meant.
- You’re so much taller (thinner, younger, cuter) on screen than in person. Now if you could just avoid saying this one little thing, celebrities everywhere would thank you. This can be topped only by the piece-de-resistance of celebrity-encounter bloopers, the mother of them all, and the big enchilada: “Didn’t you used to… (insert star’s name here)?” There is no saving you once these words escape your lips. Simply turn and walk away in quiet dignity.
As one who has encountered many celebrities, I know whereof I speak-or rather, I didn’t know whereof I spoke, and that’s how I know what I’m talking about. Trust me. You’ll feel much better, and so will your big star, if you can manage to avoid making any of the unfortunate statements listed here.
Even if you say them, however, don’t worry. The celebrities may bristle, but, deep down, they love positive attention from adoring-and adorable-fans, just like you. Who wouldn’t? It’s what they live for–
But I can tell you stories…
About the Author:
Tina Murray, Ph.D., is a writer who explores the impact of celebrity on society and individuals. A former actress in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, she has known and encountered celebrities, past and present, before, during, and after their glory days. She is the author of two compelling novels of glitz-women’s fiction. Published by ArcheBooks, A Chance to Say Yes is available in hardcover and on Kindle at http://www.tinyurl.com/ACTSYamazon. The sequel, A Wild Dream of Love, premiers in 2011. Web site: www.tinamurrayauthor.com. Book video: : http://www.tinyurl.com/ACTSYbooktrailer .