Last night in New York City… this is what happened to me…
She held my hand with a slightly firm grip, smiled and said, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m just trying to get back to my seat.” Of course she was, just like everyone else in the room.
Our intermission from the Broadway play “Jitney” had come to an end. Last night was my first experience with the work of playwright August Wilson (he also wrote “Fences“, the new movie with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis).
But my greatest lesson didn’t come from the show, it came from my interaction with Ava Duvernay.
You may not know her name, but you’ll know her work. Her most recent work is the Netflix Documentary, 13th, and the movie Selma…and not to mention she writes and directs shows for Oprah Winfrey. Just throwing some big names around—because that’s how we value people, right? By who they know and affiliate with.
Moving on, I walked to the back of that auditorium in hopes of getting a selfie with her… and instead got her very polite version of, “Honey, I’m just trying to watch the show.” As I walked back to my seat, selfie-less, my first thought was, “No one is going to believe I saw her,” and then my next thought was, “Why does it even matter?” It matters because somehow in that moment I attached my value to being “seen with a celebrity.” As if, my stock market value goes up because of this selfie that I would share with my non-existent social media following.
So, here’s what I learned…
- It’s selfish to ask celebrities for pictures.
Unless they’ve allotted time at an event just for that.
It was a selfish move for me, because I didn’t care that she was trying to watch the play.
All I cared about was being able to take a picture with her to show my “non existent social media” following that I bumped into this “famous” person. Why? Because in that split second, I thought it would make me “more cool” to be in a room with this person.
Here’s what I should have done instead…
- Thanked her for her work.
I should have walked up to her and said, “Ava, I know you’re trying to get back to your seat, but I just wanted to thank you for all the intentionality you put into carefully creating your work. Thank You for giving a voice to the “delicate” issues. Thank You for Selma, I took my mentee to see it and we learned so much together. Thank You.”
… Walked back to my seat and watched the show with her.
You know what they say, hindsight is 20-20!
If I ever become one of those “influential public personalities”…. I don’t want people capitalizing on the “impression of meeting me,” but rather “sharing with me how my work has changed their lives.”
So Madam Ava Duvernay, if you ever read this… Thank You.
The Naked Writer.
PS. Thanks for journey-ing through life with me! If you know someone who might enjoy this, share my heart with them and remember to subscribe so we can keep in touch (top right corner)! Oh yeah and comment (top left corner)! You’d be surprised how your comments encourage other readers— because other readers, do read the comments! Don’t you? lol