Recently, Chris Peterson, the Editor-In-Chief of OnStage Blog, wrote about meeting actors whom we respect and admire and the effect that it had on them. In digesting the article, I wanted to weigh in on this subject and maybe give it some more food for thought.
I have had the opportunity to meet some celebrities after a show either at the stage door or, on a few special occasions, in their dressing rooms. My expectations were based on my admiration for their work in theatre, TV and/or film. And I was ready to be humbled at the opportunity to meet them.
Most times, my encounters with them were wonderful. A few examples of these encounters were Joanna Gleason, Gregory Jbara, John Tartaglia, Faith Prince, Adrienne Barbeau, and Linda Lavin. There were no false airs about them. They were all down to earth genuinely lovely people who appreciated their fans. They took the time to sign autographs, pose for a picture and, if time allowed, have a conversation. I have been very fortunate in that respect during my encounters.
One of the things I would not do is to disturb a celebrity if they were having dinner as I feel it is the respectful thing to do. It’s what I would want if I was in their position.
Being a celebrity has its ups and downs, but a true celebrity to me is someone who appreciates the success they have had and will take the time to acknowledge the people without whom they may not have had that success, their audiences….their fans.
I have had a few encounters where the celebrity refused to acknowledge fans and walk passed with noses in the air as if to say, “You are not worth my time, little person.” For me, I took it and filed it away as an affirmation that that celebrity was not worth MY time in the future. A simple acknowledgment would have sufficed.
My big concern here is the effect that would have on a young person who has aspirations to get into the business or are just big fans. This type of action could crush someone’s hope and dreams in an instant. Young people are very impressionable, and in their formative years, this could be devastating emotionally and deter them from pursuing their dreams.
I have been lucky enough to be involved in a couple of professional productions, and fortunately, the famous actors involved didn’t put distance between themselves and the cast. Very down to earth and all-around nice people. Examples of these were Hal Linden, Michael Rupert, and Deborah Cox.
Whether you are a celebrity or not, we all have a responsibility to encourage people who admire us and take the time to give back. I think it was referred as to pay it forward. Whether you are in a community theatre production or a professional production, if someone comes up to you to show their appreciation for your work, show your appreciation to them. I know my friends who are in the business consider this and understand the importance of taking the time to say thank you for your support.
If I don’t know you and you are in the business and are reading this, please take the time and acknowledge that you are on board with this and care about the folks who support and appreciate all you do. It does make a difference.