How am I Going to Top This?: The Story Behind My Photo With Oprah
Ok, where do I start?
Wow, this last week was a complete whirlwind. If you were following me on Instagram you got to see my play by play in my stories. But there are so many little details and feelings I didn’t have time to elaborate on.
So for those wondering, here’s how this whole thing works… When Disney releases a new movie whether it’s an animated film, live action, or a Marvel movie, they usually invite and pay for travel favor a group of bloggers (25 to be exact) to come out and cover the event. Coverage includes lots of interviews and reviews about not only the movie but different ABC shows as well (cause ya know, Disney owns them too!). We are asked to write about all of that later (which can add up to anywhere from 5-18 posts), and do some shares during the event as well. I’ll go more into this later in a series of blog posts about blogging (coming soon).
On Sunday we had the opportunity to interview Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. Next week I’ll tell you all about this, what I asked Oprah, and why I was crying two hours straight that morning before the interview. But right now, I’m going to relive some of the red (actually it was blue) carpet experience with you.
Although I got to interview Oprah the day before, we aren’t aloud to take photos in that room. So no selfies quick snaps on my phone, or anything like that. I had a once in a lifetime experience meeting and conversing with Oprah, but I didn’t really have visual proof. If there was any chance of that I had to hope and pray I’d see her at the premiere and somehow get a photo.
We’d just had a long day of screenings and interviews for a couple different ABC shows. We had about two hours to get ready for the premiere and I had a feeling it would take me most of that time. I packed a whole bunch of new makeup and a flowy whimsical maternity dress I bought from ASOS. I was too nervous to eat and I knew I’d be standing a lot (a dangerous combo for an anemic pregnant lady). But I sucked it up and put out the absolute best vibes I could in hopes to have a remarkable night.
The Blue Carpet
The blue carpet and backdrops were stunning. I partnered up with friends Dani and Kiwi for photos of the night. I seriously never know how to pose or stand. This is my third red carpet event and I feel like I sorta finally got the hang of it. But goodness, I’ll never remember which is my good side, or exactly where to place my arms. #awkward.
We all funneled into the El Capitan Theatre and watched Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time alongside the people who starred in and created the movie. It’s a sweet film, and I know many of you are wondering how it is, a full review is coming next week.
After the movie we took a short walk in the cold rain with kind Disney cast members ushering us over to the after party under umbrellas. This is where the real fun started.
There were two large rooms and lots to do. Lots of food (which I had none of… Still too nervous). Beautiful backdrops, and so much people watching to be had.
A friend of mine said she saw Kobe Bryant at the premiere so when I saw a tall man who looked like a familiar basketball player I asked her if that was him. “No!” She laughed. “That’s Chris Bosh!” My husband would be so proud.
There were so many celebrities but just one I really wanted to see. I overheard whispers that Oprah was in the next room. I walked over expecting to see her in some kind of roped-off area but there was none of that. She was standing at a rectangular table surrounded by dozens of people. I stood by and watched as she met the eyes of person after person and spoke to them. I could reach my arm out and touch her, yet there were at least 15 other people just as close.
Anthony Anderson came over and told me he was trying to get in to say hi to his friend. I was thinking ‘Ok, yea, get in line…’ but really I just asked him if I could snap a picture with him real quick. Then he made eye contact with Oprah’s bodyguard and made his way through the crazy crowd.
I watched as a little girl came up behind Oprah and Ms. Winfrey gave me (and/or the 5 people around me) the “one minute” signal before turning around, grabbing the little girls face and giving her what looked like the world’s most inspiring pep talk. I looked on in awe as this woman who has inspired me my whole life, instilled some of her passion into the next generation.
I met Martin Lawrence while waiting to talk to Oprah and got a photo with him too. It was actually pretty easy picking off the celebrities that way. EVERYONE wants to talk to her. A-listers are no exception. But I noticed how she spent more time with her ordinary fans than those with celebrity status.
Getting a picture
Her people must have given her some kind of signal that it was time to go because they started to head out. Did that mean she’d walk away and leave immediately, ignoring anyone who got in her way? HA! Not even close. As she made her way to her exit she continued to stop, listen to people’s stories of how she changed their lives and take photo after photo with a smile.
I can’t imagine she doesn’t have five million hours of experience in this exact sort of thing. Her people must buffer an extra hour each way into all of her trips knowing that she will stop and engage with her fans.
Meanwhile, I saw my window to get a photo closing fast. I decided I’d just follow her along and see if an opportunity presented itself. The crowd thinned a little the closer she got to the exit and she’d stop every few steps for a hug, a handshake, or a photo. It was now or never. When I saw an opening I went for it jumped in with my camera rolling, and asked if I could get a quick video/picture/thanked her so much for everything in the entire world/making my dreams come true/being a part of this sweet movie. I seriously tripped over all of my words. If I was smart I would have planned out exactly what I wanted to tell her. But I’d been too anxious to just be in the right place at the right time and that slipped my mind.
It’s ok though, I did it! A couple of my friends bombed the background (not seen in this cleverly edited photo though is in this video) but my husband said that makes it look even more authentic. Like me and Oprah chillin and groupies in the background are just tryna jump in.
I was kicking myself for a little while about my fumbling,. But really, she wasn’t going to remember. And I have an inkling I’ll have an opportunity some day to make up for it later.
Why hello there, Mr. Tall dark and handsome
Ok, so photo with Oprah achievement unlocked. Now what?
I went back into the party scene, which was beginning to die down, or at least had dispersed quite a bit. I really wanted to connect with Ava DuVernay because I was so moved by her the day before during our interviews.
As I waited in line to meet her I glanced around, and standing right next to me was a tall dark and handsome man I immediately recognized from Black Panther. I did a double take then shouted. “Oh my gosh, I LOVE YOU!”
He glanced down at my very pregnant belly and smiled and thanked me and congratulated me.
I’m HORRIBLE with names people. Even celebrity names. So I couldn’t remember his right away, but I’d just read an article about him being from Trinidad and Tobago. My husband served a mission there and my grandmother told me some of our genealogy leads back there, so I brought that up and told him how I hope to visit some day. I couldn’t believe he was waiting in line to meet Ava. Standing behind me.
“This is like waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland,” he joked.
“I guess all things Disney have that effect on people!” I said.
While Ava spoke to another one of her fans Anthony Anderson came over and congratulated Winston (THAT’S his name!) on his new success and asked him how he was handling all of the sudden change.
You guys, I was eavesdropping on a celebrity conversation. Not only that, I recorded the whole thing on my camera.
I “let” Winston Duke go by me to meet Ava first, cause I mean, he probably had a busier agenda than myself, and I woulda felt awkward making him wait. Plus he was SO sweet and humble and that’s just downright cool in my book.
The best part of the night
When Winston walked away Ava greeted me not with a hello, or a handshake. But a bright and shining “HELLO THERE!” directed at my belly. She grabbed me and congratulated me on my baby. It threw me off a little, but also is the exact sort of thing you can expected from this remarkable woman.
I thanked her for all of her work on this film and other films. I explained how this one already meant so much to my daughter and to me. And I thanked her for being such a light, and inspiring me to shine and bring more light to the world. Because the world needs more light!
Ava DuVernay looked me dead in the eyes and thanked ME for saying that. She said it was what she needed to hear today.
How did she do that? Instantly make me feel like a peer. Like she saw me, really saw me. And not as someone smaller than she is, but as an equal.
Ava has said so many inspiring things. She’s created incredible works of art. Some day I may forget some of what she said to me. Or exactly what she did when we met. But I will never, ever forget how she made me feel.
And that was it. My night was complete. I no longer cared that I’d fumbled my words with Mama Oprah. It didn’t matter that my selfie was totally photo bombed. I felt moved to make people feel the way those two women had made me feel the past two days: Heard, understood, and even loved for the glimpse of me they saw and heard.
Hopefully one of these days I’ll edit this whole experience into an epic vlog. Including all of my celebrity eavesdropping. But until then, there’s the highlights for ya.
Other cool moments from the premiere night
Standing next to Storm Reid and congratulating her, then taking a selfie. Same thing with the future teen heartthrob Levi Miller. I said hello to Angela Bassett and complemented her on her beautiful family. But I was too shy to ask her for a photo.
This was an experience of a lifetime that I’d spent YEARS, planning, praying and preparing for. It all culminated to this week. And it was worth it.
How will I ever top this? I have no idea. But one thing I know for sure is I’m about to start dreaming even BIGGER.
A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters everywhere this Friday March 9th!
Tags: disney, inspiring, movie premiere, Oprah, red carpet, travel, wrinkle in time event
I could not love this more! I loved following your lives and this retelling is perfect. What a magical experience!! And you are positively stunning.
I was so excited to sit down and write this and it kept getting longer and longer. I’m so glad you made it through! And glad I got to document it. Thank you Andrea!
Love this!!! The picture with you and Ava is my favorite!!!! She is giving your baby a hug too—how precious ?
She was really so wonderful. I’m very seriously considering Ava as a middle name for this baby.
Wow!!! I always love reading your posts. And although I’ve been a reader for years, I’m not sure I’ve ever commented before. I am opting to do so now because it’s amazing how reading this I felt like I was experiencing this WITH you!!! Soooo exciting and I can’t even fathom how inspirational the combo of Ava + Oprah alone must have been! And, to be honest, I squealed when I saw the pic of you with Winston. *swoon*
Congratulations on this opportunity! I am happy for you and draw inspiration from you. Here’s to even more success!
BTW: You looked GORGEOUS!!!!!
OMG this is amazing! Thank you for sharing!
So glad that you got your picture with Oprah! And I don’t think anyone is ever prepared when they meet Oprah. She has touched and impacted so many lives. I can’t wait to see A Wrinkle in Time. I know Ava and the cast did a great job on it and the movie going to be nothing short of magical.
Oh man, that’s true. I guess no one is ever completely ready to meet her and know exactly what they want to say. I was a blubbly mess but she was so kind!
Congratulations again on checking off another item from your dream board! I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!
ps.. I was already giddy with the Martin photo BUT…. ANTHONY ANDERSON too?!?! I absolutely love him!!!
Thank you friend! And oh my goodness yea I was surprised how many people I actually recognized AND knew their names. You know they’re big if I remember their first and last name. haha
long time lurker….first time commenter….
Like, LONGGGGG time. Way pre-Lil J. Can I just say how much I admire you? You have come such a long way, but I’ve seen it from the beginning in you. You have always set your goals high and made them known, and you always bust your butt to reach them, even with jobs coming and going, kids, a husband who serves his community, a surprise pregnancy, building your own brand….you’re amazing. I hope that’s not too fangirly of me, but you’re great. So real and honest and deserving of every opportunity that presents itself to you. Just know that you inspire so many people daily in your own way.
A). You look gorgeous.
2). Meeting Oprah… (insert comical gif of someone fainting here).
Hahaha Monica. Thank you for your sweet comment. It made me smile!