How to Non-Awkwardly Approach a Famous Person
Recently, I had the opportunity to be in the same room as Charles Esten, a well-known cast member of the hit show “Nashville.” We were both munching on reception food after an honors society pinning event that his daughter (a fellow Belmont student) and I were both participating in.
I really wanted to meet him. But then, there was the problem of how to swing it.
Thus was my predicament as I casually strolled around the room and pretended to be thirsty so I could fill up my glass at the table next to where Charles was chatting with his family. Smooth. I took a sneaky Snapchat of him to send to my friends. I plotted my approach. I was totes gonna nail this!
I would suavely saunter up, flash a $2,500 smile (thanks, braces) and say, "Oh, hello there, Mr. Esten! I didn't notice you over here in the corner. What a pleasure to have you join our ceremony today! I'm a student here at Belmont, and I just wanted to compliment you on your brilliant performance in last week's episode. Why, yes! I would love to visit the Nashville set sometime! Here's my card."
My mind snapped back to reality. My palms grew clammy. Mr. Esten's ice clinked in his glass as he threw back his perfect hair and took a sip of cheap ginger ale (thanks, Belmont).
I suddenly chickened out.
What would I say?
“Uh, hi, you’re famous and I love meeting famous people. So yeah, I go here. To school. I mean, at Belmont. Here at Belmont I go. Errr, that’s all. Bye. Oh, and here's my card so please look me up and hire me to sing on your show OK bye.”
As I walked home, trying not to trip in my heels and clutching my unfinished, cheap, fried mozzarella stick in a cheap napkin, I smiled. The experience had got me thinking.
So, how should one approach a Famous Person*?
Here are some thoughts. Heh. Because obviously I'm the expert!
*"Famous persons" (and variations of this title) shall hereafter be capitalized in order to ascribe important emphases to the elevated persona and lofty personages of said Famous Persons.
1. First, don’t psych yourself out. Famous People are human too.
Don’t forget that Famous People are just normal people with a following.
Artists, actors, politicians, etc. aren't (intrinsically) any more amazing or special than you are (Well, OK. I will never be as cool as Tori Kelly, but I’m fine with that).
Aw, doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy about yourself?
2. Don’t hover around the Famous Person, waiting for them to notice you.
Having someone hover around you can be one of the most awkward and annoying things.
If you can, and there isn’t a line, keep a casual, respectful distance from the Famous Person, and then (when the coast is clear) approach them with a friendly, “Hi, there! Aren’t you famous or something?”
Just kidding. Please don’t say that.
3. Make sure your right hand is free to shake their hand.
A smile and a handshake are always the best calling cards. Don’t carry things in your hands that will cause you to shift around awkwardly in order to shake the Famous Person's hand.
Also, don’t hold a drink in your right hand while you are waiting to meet the Famous Person. You don’t want to shake their hand with a wet, drippy one, do you? Nope.
4. Don’t try to get something from the Famous Person.
Don’t give them your headshot. Don’t shove your demo in their pocket. If the Famous Person suddenly has the revelation that you will be the next Whitney Houston, let them come to that realization on their own.
5. Be yourself! Show your appreciation and just be natural.
Don’t forget to tell the Famous Person why you are glad to meet them, and what you appreciate about them and their work!
Remember to breathe. Complete your sentences. Maintain good eye contact. There you go.
6. Don't try to hit on the Famous Person.
This one's for free. Just don't do it.
Yes, you should avoid attaining creeper status. But I will agree that (at least in Nashville) networking is king, and sometimes cool things happen when people meet people! However, they always happen naturally. And my friends, that's when you say, “Sure, Mr. Martin! I’d love to tell you more about that song I wrote.”
So, don’t be creepy, be yourself (unless you’re creepy...then just stop being creepy) and enjoy the experience of meeting that famous person!
You've got this.