Big dreams come true with small steps
For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with pop culture. My dad always had a voracious appetite for music and movies, which he passed along to me before I could even read the CD and VHS covers. I knew from a young age that my fascination with celebrities was different than my peers; their fleeting interest was my fervent passion. This helped me choose my career path — entertainment journalism. However, growing up in Delaware didn’t exactly make for a hot bed for Hollywood’s elite. I watched interviews and red carpet shows, waiting for the day that I’d be able to interview celebrities myself.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized AU had its own entertainment outlet, and I began to write for The Scene. Advance movie screenings, CD reviews, phone interviews — I was in my own personal heaven. One month into my writing adventures, I was able to interview part of the cast of “The Secret Life of Bees” in person. I sat next to Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson, feeling like I was on my very own E! special.
That began an onslaught of celebrity interviews, both on the phone and in person. I name-dropped as I described my latest adventures to relatives at home. I had a nervous stomach before all the interviews took place, but became calm whenever I began to speak, remembering that these celebrities were just normal people in a unique line of work. (I may have had a repeat of my breakfast on the morning I interviewed Queen Latifah, but still maintain I was getting over a stomach bug.) It was surreal to see my dreams coming true in front of my eyes. It felt strange to interview people on TV, yet I maintained some sense of dignity — until three weeks ago.
As the arts and entertainment editor for The Eagle, I get many e-mails about reviews and interviews. In late October, I got a message about a screening of “Me and Orson Welles.” Despite the fact that I am 20 years old and a somewhat normal junior in college, I am an enormous Zac Efron fan. (My mom doesn’t let me forget it — a “High School Musical” poster, pillow and Christmas ornament, all joking but well-received gifts from her, decorate my room). I was already excited, but I kept reading.
“Actors Zac Efron, Claire Danes and director Richard Linklater will be in Washington, D.C. on November 10 for press interviews.”
What followed can only be referred to as a complete breakdown of sanity. I literally leapt out of my seat, screaming and shaking.
Reality set in and I realized that, despite my calmness in the past, I wasn’t sure if I could maintain my composure around a man I have so fervently obsessed over. It soon went from excitement to dread. My friends joked that I should be careful not to vomit on him; I laughed, but I honestly didn’t know how I’d get through it without upchucking on his shoes.
The day arrived, and I couldn’t eat. I sat, waiting to be escorted upstairs, when I saw him — a laughing, chatting Efron. As he passed me on his way upstairs to the interview suite where I would soon join him, I realized I was staring — and those bright, blue eyes and a smile were meeting me back.
“Hello!” Efron greeted me as he passed, not knowing I was about to interview him, but just that I was a young woman sitting, staring and beaming.
Twenty minutes after that, the interview began. The usual calm came over me as I began the interview, but my excitement never left. This was the type of interview I had been waiting my whole life to do. Though the celebrities I’ve interviewed in the past have been amazing and admirable, it is a different beast to interview someone you flat-out adore. I maintained normality, though couldn’t help but confess the fact that I was a huge fan and snagged a picture at the end.
But this story is not an opportunity for me to brag. It is a chance to show that, even for a media junkie from Delaware, anything is possible. I never thought I would meet a celebrity to interview, let alone one whose image adorned my wall.
If there’s a lesson I learned in my Efron adventure, it’s that you should send that extra e-mail, join that other club, ignore the naysayers and let your work be your passion. As my friend from home posted on my Facebook a day after the event, “I’m going to get your profile pic blown up and made into a poster with ‘dreams do come true.’ You know, my version of the ‘hang in there’ kitty poster.”
Though my career choice once seemed impractical to people, they now know that I’m already doing what I dreamed of for so long. That a girl like me can interview Zac Efron is proof that you really can do anything you set your mind to. (And yes — he is actually that beautiful in person).
You can reach this staff writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.