Monday, March 1, 2010

My Hollywood Moment

On Friday evening, I attended the NAACP Image Awards show which was televised live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (My book was nominated for "Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens.") This was a full on black tie, celebrity studded, red carpet phenomenon... the kind you imagine attending as a kid, standing in front of your bathroom mirror with a hairbrush as your microphone: "I'd like to thank the Academy..."

The real deal, as it turns out, is simultaneously as thrilling as you imagine it will be, and yet somehow also fails to live up to your most glamorous expectations. The behind-the-scenes vibe of Hollywood, it seems, is just as awkward and dysfunctional as the behind-the-scenes vibe everywhere else.

My brother and I arrived in limousine style, stood in line with the other nominees, and walked the red carpet immediately behind the likes of Sherri Shepherd (The View), Gabrielle Union (Flash Forward), and the teenage cast members of Glee and Lincoln Heights. We waited forever for our turn, as they ushered the more famous individuals past us for priority red carpet access. Why we waited it out was unclear, because none of the photographers were terribly interested in capturing us, but I refused to slip around behind the curtain and scurry to my seat. I was determined to have my red carpet moment, even if nothing came of it but the experience.

Once inside, we discovered that, while the glitz and glam of Hollywood is definitely a true fact, there is also a human side to everything. It's refreshing to watch someone like Morgan Freeman studying his ticket stub up and down trying to locate his seat, or Chris Rock smiling as he embraces an old friend in the aisle. These are consummate performers with a job to do, yet they are also just people.

I'll be happy to post more about my L.A. adventures, if folks want to hear about it, but for now I'll leave you with one small nugget. I was so nervous in preparing for this event ("What am I going to wear?" "What is it going to be like?" "This is so far out of my league..."), but in the end, I didn't feel as out of place as I expected. I accepted my role as author, nominee, and person--and found my place among the stars.

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