I said I wanted to be a doctor but what I really wanted to be was a superstar.
When I was a child, I dreamed of standing before an adoring audience dressed in a sequenced gown as I accepted my latest award from “The Academy” — the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (the Oscar), the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (the Emmy), or even the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy – It was a long shot but I managed to edge out the competition every time.).
My speeches ranged from tear jerkers to not-so-subtle stabs aimed at every fool who thought I would never make it.
And of course, I handled every post and pre-award interview with ease. No stuttering, stammering or self-consciousness. And I always looked FABULOUS. A publicist? Never thought about hiring one. I was 10 for God’s sake.
Back then, I knew I was ready for my close-up.
In truth, I thought I was ready. I wasn’t.
When the chance came for me to be on camera with the potential of having thousands of people glaring at my image, hanging on my every word, I balked.
I was working in public relations with a fine arts museum when one of the curators, who normally speaks to the press, had to cancel her television appearance. What was I to do?
Radio is fine. It’s not better to see me, my dear. I can conduct interviews in my pajamas (which I have. And when I do have to go into a radio station, I don’t have to fret about my hair (always a challenge), my clothes (never quite right), or that pimple that seems to pop up only hours before I have to go on camera (You know the one – big and red and looks contagious.).
Frantically, I searched for her replacement. When even the cleaning people were unmoved by my pleas, I knew I had to get ready for showtime. I decided to keep the eating to a minimum. I guess I was hoping to lose in one day the 20 pounds that television “makes you gain”. There was no time to go a hairdresser, not that I would have done so anyway. And make-up? Don’t wear any — not a natualist, nor a minimalist, just cosmetically-challenged or rather challenged by cosmetics.
The next day, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. for a 5:45 a.m. call at the television studio. Not my best time of the morning. I applied no makeup– just lipstick and a lot of cold water to get rid of the bloaty look I have when I first awake.
Like most new experiences, it was relatively painless. I didn’t have to worry about my angles. I just looked at the host who was more than pleasant. No trick questions –just a straight forward interview. I gave her the 5 W’s of the event (who what, when where and why) and before I knew it, my first television appearance was over.
Despite my moderate success, I still treated all potential television appearances like trips to the gynecologist–minimally invasive and always awkward.
Oh, those were the good old days of a few years ago. Thanks to the internet, blogging, and You-Tube, communication now has the potential of becoming “viral” — with your words and images speading throughout the world faster than a purse snatcher. Anyone with a cameraphone, and a dream, is now a newsgatherer (Excuse me, “citizen journalist.”). Just what I need, someone to make me look like a bigger jerk than I already am.
Today, I am less apprehensive about my appearance. I have come to accept my “quirkines.” (In the words of my younger, granola-eating, Birkenstock-sandaled, black belt in martial arts wearing sister, “Weird is good.” ) I am far more worried about what I say than how I look. In the past few weeks, entire words have been eliminated from the American lexicon and you can never predict when another word will be placed on the vocabulary “sh**t list.”
So knowing what I do about the media, why did I jump at the chance to be interviewed by Brooklyn Independent Television? When the producer approached me at the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Blogfest last week, I was more than delighted to get my possible 15 seconds of fame and did not give one thought to any potential consequence.
At heart, I am still that little girl who dreams of being in the spotlight.
By the way, the interview went well because I got to talk about my favorite subject, me.
So are you ready for your close-up? Given the chance would you run from the cameras, coat over head or would you walk boldly up to the nearest open mic? Would you hire a publicist or have a family member speak on your behalf?
Inquring minds want to know.