A while ago, I was working on a production starring one of my favorite all-time performers. Not only did I feel fortunate enough to work alongside this person but also that it was occurring early in my career. From everything I had heard about this woman, she was a joy to work with, told amazing stories and would often lend advice to up and coming performers. As rehearsals began I realized, this was far from the truth.
In reality, this actress was incredibly difficult to work with, constantly late, made up her own direction and barely said a word to her cast mates. Remember that scene in "Devil Wears Prade" when Meryl Streep's character walks into work? That's how rehearsals felt. While I was hoping to treasure every moment in her presence, I was actually hoping it would end as quickly as possible.
Obviously, I was disappointed in the experience. But it taught me a valuable lesson: Never expect your favorite performers to always be incredible people because sometimes they aren't.
Since then I've heard similar stories from others about meeting some of their favorite Broadway stars. Whether it's getting cold shoulders at the stage door, noncooperation in rehearsals or nauseating diva behavior, it can sting to find out that those you idolized aren't necessarily the best people. I've even heard stories from BroadwayCon, an event designed to celebrate Broadway fandom, where people's images of their favorites are shattered when they interact with their favorites. I know mine was from an interaction I had this past year.
Now I understand that Broadway performers aren't obligated to be role models 24/7, but I do believe that this community thrives best when veteran successful performers "pay it forward" to those coming up in the industry and to their fans. While I'm certainly not on their level, I try to do the same with those thinking about getting into the blogging/social media world.
So to all performers out there, Broadway or not, while I want you to certainly be yourself and live your life, also think about each interaction you have with fans and aspiring performers and what it could mean for them. Because they will someday hopefully do the same for the next generation.