I stumbled over Richard Armitage at 92Y [guest post]

Remember the fan who accidentally stumbled over Richard Armitage on the aisle at the 92nd St Y? Here are her further reflections on the evening!

[ETA: You can tweet the author of this post here.]

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1522075_10151783889157217_338555985_nI am always running late. Always, and always for different, valid reasons. I had planned to go see the Di Trevis talk before the Pinter/Proust staged reading at 92Y. I know it takes an hour door-to-door from my home in Brooklyn. I should have left enough time. But as is always the case, something came up to make me late. In this case, it was a pretty amazing something.

I started and run an all-volunteer, non-profit dog rescue called Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue. I have always named the dogs I rescue after celebrities, writers, artists, historical figures. My own dog is named after Existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. I recently named a dog after Richard Armitage, and shared the picture around the internet with other RA fans (some of whom were kind enough to retweet the link to his adoption profile). One of my rescue partners named a dog after Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the beautiful Humans of New York blog. HONY has 2.3 million fans on Facebook. As I was getting ready to leave, with all intention of being on time, my email and facebook blew up. Brandon had shared our canine Brandon Stanton on his page, driving hundreds of new fans to ours. For a struggling, unfunded rescue group, this is huge.

So I was running late, as usual, but with good reason. Quietly entering the auditorium a few minutes after the talk had begun, I scanned the room to find my way to a seat with the least disturbance. Why does everyone always sit on the aisle when there are many seats on the interior of a row? I do it myself, all the time, and then I have to get up and let people in who come late, but I never learn. I spot the very last row by the left wall, just in front of where I am standing. One man is seated in the aisle seat and except for a woman at the other end, by the wall, the rest of the row is almost empty.  Trying to be as discreet as possible, I step over and ask “Do you mind?” and he looks up and says something, I can’t remember what, to the effect of “sure” or “no problem.”

I can’t remember what he said, because when he looked up at me I realized it was Richard Armitage.

He stood up to let me through and I walked two seats down, leaving an empty seat between us, because as much as I would love to sit right next to Richard Armitage, I thought if I were he, I would want some personal space.

My heart was pounding so powerfully, I thought it was audible. I didn’t dare look. People were still streaming in. My friend who was meeting me came a few minutes later and yes, he also had to disturb poor Richard during the talk to get to a seat by me. Why was this so exciting? I couldn’t look over at him, certainly couldn’t talk with him.

This moment encapsulated what my life in New York has been like since I moved here 20 years ago: Proximity to the highest levels of power, wealth, success, beauty. Proximity — but not access.

Years ago I was an integral part of a small team that produced a documentary that got nominated for an Oscar. It had been my dream since I was a little girl to go to the Oscars, but there were not enough tickets, so I watched on television like everyone else. While I work in film, tv and commercials, I am not anything close to an insider. I am still tangential.

So as I sat two seats over from the movie star who was about to perform on the stage in front of me, I thought about the fan/celebrity dynamic, about the invisible glass wall always between us, as if we can see them, but they can’t see us. I think we all want to be acknowledged in life, to have our worth recognized by those we appreciate. But the very nature of how we consume movies, tv and even theatrical plays makes mutual recognition nearly impossible. For those of us who don’t work directly with movie stars, what chance will we ever have to be on the same side of the glass wall?

And that is why I was so overwhelmed to be seated next to Richard Armitage in the auditorium at 92Y. What are the chances that he would be sitting in the audience, and that I would happen to have picked that row as the least rude option after being late? I have been through some hard times lately, and I think maybe the universe was sending me some completely unbelievable and unexpected reward. For those 45 minutes we were equals, both New York artists, audience members, focused on the same two people talking on stage, learning, and laughing (I think) at the same jokes.  It almost felt like I had touched the glass wall and it had disappeared, just for a moment.

I have been a fan of Richard Armitage since seeing North & South on PBS. I remember being really excited when he joined the cast of Spooks, as I had enjoyed watching the show from the first season. A few years ago when my English former boyfriend was going home for Christmas, I asked him to bring back the UK DVDs of Strike Back, since the show was not available in the U.S. I know he thought I was a bit silly, but being the dutiful English boyfriend he was, he brought them back. (Are all English boyfriends dutiful? A question for another time.)

While I have been a fan for a long time, only lately have I discovered the expansive and expanding universe of his fandom. Over the past few months, I have spent a fair amount of time reading fan blogs, twitter pages, and even recently overcame my aversion to technology to join a forum.

In reading many of the diverse and thoughtful personal stories found in these places, I started thinking about how interesting Armitage fans are, how we all have a story. I have always been interested in the idea of fandom and the sense of community it engenders. I used to be a big baseball fan and for years I went to Yankees games at least twice a month. I remember once sitting in Yankee Stadium and looking around thinking, here are 56,000 people who all might have nothing else in common, they come from different races, religions, educational, professional and socioeconomic backgrounds, but they all love the Yankees, and for this moment in time, they are a community. One thing that crossed my mind as I sat two seats down from Richard was how fun it would be to share the story later with fellow fans.

Back on stage, Di Trevis was speaking about the theme of memory that is so integral to the play and brought up the question of “how fictional is memory?”

This question is one that comes up quite a bit in documentary filmmaking. Not only do we who call ourselves documentary filmmakers grapple with the gray area between truth and fiction when portraying things that happened in the past, we think a great deal about how as storytellers we are representing the “reality” of things happening in the present. Our very presence with a camera changes the dynamic of the situation, though we work to become as invisible as possible. Like good journalists, we strive to make sure we have our facts straight, to reflect some level of objective truth.

At the same time, what we shoot and do not shoot, sometimes by choice, sometimes by chance, determines the material we have to work with. How we edit the footage determines how the story will be told. Often 95 percent of what we have shot is cut out, reminding us as filmmakers that the “reality” could have gone in many different directions. When we have a point of story or character that we need to illustrate but don’t have the vérité footage to do it, we get creative. We include animation, moody shots of unrelated material, or re-enactment, all of which are completely fabricated in order to further illustrate a “truth.” Like all artists, we strive to make our work inspire feeling and thought and touch on some universal truth. For social issue films, the filmmaker further hopes to inspire action (often political or social).

Listening to Di Trevis talk about working with Pinter to adapt Proust, I immediately thought of one of the best documentaries of the year, which just missed an Oscar nomination — Sarah Polley’s genre-bending Stories We Tell, a study of memory and just how fictional, or put more kindly, subjective, memory is. The film treats the collective, sometimes conflicting memories of the filmmaker’s deceased mother and her relationships with her husband and lover (sparked by a question over the actual identity of Polley’s biological father). What really happened? How could the same situations be remembered so differently by different people? Who is telling the “truth”? How fictional is memory? There was a lot of talk this year about Stories We Tell and how its method of storytelling bends the genre toward narrative.

G_011614_Pinter_ProustI have never read Proust. I have a basic wikipedia-level knowledge of his life and work. So how do I approach understanding a staged reading of a play directed and adapted by Di Trevis from a screenplay by Pinter, which was in turn derived from Proust’s novels? Subjectively, of course. That is, I, like every other audience member, bring my own unique life experience to understand the thing that is happening in front of me. Part of my unique life experience is being a documentary filmmaker, my interest in storytelling as a means to reach some kind of universal truth. To learn from something new, particularly something as dense and difficult to penetrate as Remembrance of Things Past, I turn to a recent documentary film that touches on similar subject matter. Understanding that work of art enabled me to open the window to understanding the work of art I was about to see.

As the interview drew to a close, Richard quietly slipped out the back.

One of the things I was most excited about was meeting up with a few other RA fans after the show. I am not a big fan of twitter but I had tweeted a few people whom I follow, asking for a meetup afterwards. My ancient Blackberry had run out of battery so during the break, I found an outlet in the library and planted myself there to charge. I was particularly looking forward to meeting @AwkwardCeleb because I love her cartoons and can so identify, having had many awkward celebrity encounters myself. Just as I was texting with Awkward about my previous “awkward” encounter (stepping over Richard Armitage), I stepped into another one.

A few feet away, looking at some art on the wall, stood Anson Mount. Years ago I was taking an editing class and we used a film he had starred in as our class material. I think we had a couple of mutual facebook friends, so I emailed him on fb and told him how much I liked his work. He wrote back and we became facebook friends. Later he switched his page so that he was a public figure, and instead of a “friends,” I was now a follower. I actually enjoy following his page, I like his posts, and I have never contacted him again, so the barrier between celebrity and fan is preserved. But here of course he was, standing three feet away, a fellow audience member at the same show, so I went over.

I was already completely discombobulated and tongue-tied (HELLO, I had just been sitting next to Richard Armitage for 45 minutes!). I tripped over my words (trying to explain that I didn’t actually “work” on the film but it was used in a class I took and then couldn’t remember the name of the film and just told him “it took place on a farm”). He was very nice, very lovely, and when I said completely nervously “I know it’s weird, but I thought I would come over and say hello,” he said, “I’m glad you did.” He smiled genuinely, but it was still extremely awkward (for me). I am many things, but smooth is not one of them. Later, I found out that one of my friends actually went to grad school with him. Too bad she wasn’t with me.

Contrast that awkward celebrity encounter with one that seemed like a perfectly normal interaction. I have loved Colin Firth since, well, forever. A few years ago, I produced a documentary that premiered at Sundance. And even though Sundance has become a magnet for every press-hungry starlet, filmmakers themselves (particularly on the documentary side) don’t really cross paths with the famous people. One night at one of the private parties for doc filmmakers, I was contemplating the buffet table when Colin Firth appeared next to me. We had a very nice brief chat, which started by discussing the food options and continued to touch on the films we each had at the festival (he had executive produced a documentary). It was a totally natural experience, as if I had been talking to any person who happened to be at the same party. He never would have known that I had seen as many of his movies as I could get my hands on and had watched the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice so many times that my VHS tapes started hissing. I couldn’t have had that kind of chat with Firth had I run into him standing in line at a coffee shop or over a barricade on the red carpet. The whole experience was only possible because for that moment, in that environment, we were invited into the same room for the same reason. The glass wall was down. It was one of the few times in my life when I felt like I was on the “inside,” however briefly.

I didn’t grow up in New York. I came here for college and have been somewhat stuck here ever since. I often think about leaving, but am not sure where else I would go. Aggravations make living in New York not always pleasant. But then, I have an opportunity so rare that it makes all the hassle worthwhile. There is nothing like sitting in a live audience watching a group of incredibly talented actors perform on stage. It’s electric. The whole cast was fantastic. Richard was amazing. He has the kind of innate stage presence that cannot be taught, combined with skills he developed over years of study and work. I know we all already know that he is a very good actor, but something about seeing him on stage, where there is no second take, where even the back row has to hear his “whisper,” just made it clear how great he really is. I hope he does more theater.

After the show ended I was able to meet some of the other RA fans and it was great fun to encounter people in real life whom I follow online (another layer of fandom; I am a fan of the fans). All the ladies were open and welcoming, happy to meet like-minded new friends. I was disappointed that what I thought would be a meet and greet was actually an invitation only party. I thought about talking my way in, which I thought I might be able to do if I had acted fast enough. Now I am kind of sorry I didn’t even try. I wonder if in the environment of a closed party I might have felt more empowered to say hello to Richard. I could have mentioned to him that if he hasn’t seen Stories We Tell, he should check it out, as well as 20 Feet From Stardom and Cutie and the Boxer, two documentaries just nominated for Oscars that explore the lives of artists. I think every creative person should see them and I imagine he would appreciate them.  Or maybe I would have been completely tongue-tied and discombobulated and awkward – actually, that’s a more likely scenario.

Quite a crowd had gathered in the lobby outside the library and pretty soon Richard came out to greet the fans. The glass wall was back up. He was on one side of a velvet rope (with a guard standing near), and we, the crowd, were on the other. I stood in the back and watched as he graciously signed autographs and took pictures with many fans. He is absolutely every bit a movie star in the classic sense. Besides fulfilling the Aristotelian ideal of male beauty, he exudes gracefulness and intelligence. I thought about going up and getting a picture taken. I thought about pulling out my self-deprecating humor and saying “sorry I had to climb over you tonight.” But I didn’t. I didn’t engage in the scene; I watched. I am still an observer. Maybe next time.

After quite a while and after people from inside the party had come out to get him and not until all of the fans who waited had gotten pictures and autographs, Richard disappeared, back into the private party.

~ by Servetus on January 18, 2014.

54 Responses to “I stumbled over Richard Armitage at 92Y [guest post]”

  1. What a lovely, thoughtful account all round. Most of my life I’ve felt myself the person quietly observing, on the outside looking in, too~~I could well relate to your story.

    And even though my former profession was print journalism, I ask myself if I’d be able to overcome my innate shyness in the presence of this man I’ve been a fan of for more than seven years now . . . I really would love to be able to tell him thanks for being–himself. The actor and the human being. He’s something quite special, isn’t he?

    I have always thought he had that extra something as a performer that simply can’t be taught, that goes beyond technique. He’s got “it.”

    How I envy those of you who saw him perform on that stage last night!

    I want to see all the docs you’ve mentioned now, too. Thanks for this (and I love your photo manip) 😉

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    • Thank you so much for re-blogging and for your kind words. I am so glad that you were touched by the story.

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      • I was glad to be able to share a good read with my followers. I was so tired and sleepy when I was commenting last night I completely forgot to remark on the “Humans of New York” blog, which I also really enjoy! I also salute you for your support of animal welfare—a cause really, really close to my heart (secretary for our local humane society, manager of our FB page, and parent to numerous shelter pets and strays over the years). And I have seen the “Sugarman” doc and loved it. Thanks for the recs! It is amazing how many people you can reach and the feedback you can receive through a well-established blog like Serv’s, isn’t it? Keep up the good work!

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  2. Reblogged this on the armitage effect and commented:
    A wonderful guest post by the fan who accidentally ended up sitting by Richard at the theater . . . well worth reading!!

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experience. It will certainly be a wonderful memory for you. Life is good!

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  4. […] imagine sitting on Richard’s lap must be the best seat in the […]

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  5. I am deeply grateful to the fan who took the time to write and share such a wonderful, thoughtful, well-spoken review of her experience, and to you, Servetus, for passing it on. Truly, not only a great anecdote but some fine thoughts on the fan/artist relationship and the culture and process of creation as well. (And of course the observations about Richard in live performance, for those of us who will probably never have the privilege of seeing this, are greatly appreciated.)

    Thank you.

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    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment and appreciation. I was worried about the length and covering multiple topics, so it is really nice to know that you and others are enjoying it.

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  6. I love everything about this report! Thank you so much for sharing. You pointed out the situation so perfectly – what does such a short encounter really give to me as a fan? Is it surreal – as I think you felt a little? What makes it so special for fans and is it really that special? I love the picture of the wall! Btw: 2 crushes in 1 post: CF +RA. And congrats – you lived the secret RAddict’s dream! At least for 45 minutes!

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    • Thank you so much for reading and for the lovely comment. It is surreal, for sure. The funniest thing was that I was sitting there just thinking omg I can’t even look over at him. I was able to catch glimpses a couple of times because people were still coming in so I would just kind of act like I was looking around at the aisles but in fact was trying to steal a glance.

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  7. I don’t think I could’ve paid any attention to discussion on stage sitting two seats over from RA. I would’ve spent the entire time just “being” next to RA.

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  8. I really enjoyed reading that report. Thanks to you sharing – and thanks to Servetus for letting you guest-blog this. I was also really interested to read your observations about the “invisible wall”. It is an aspect of the fan experience that I struggle with. Not in the sense that I desperately want to tear it down (in fact it is quite handy to have it to hide behind), but more in the sense that it makes me feel reduced to something/somebody who a) only has one objective when it comes to an encounter with my favourite celeb, b) has nothing to offer but adoration and c) is viewed as a threat or an annoyance. Slightly humiliating, if you ask me.
    Anyway, best of luck with your project, and thanks again for sharing.

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I completely agree with you about the characterization of the wall – and like the way you broke it down. I think the issue I struggle with is that celebrity is such a social construct and in some sense is kind of meaningless. I remember traveling in Cambodia in 2000 and it was right around the time Angelina Jolie was shooting Tomb Raider and getting involved with Cambodia. There was an article in the local paper about it but honestly, none of the local people in that little town knew or cared who Angelina Jolie was. This was, of course, before the internet changed everything. Now I am sure even people in the remotest corners of the world know who Angelina Jolie is. But I guess what that meant to me at the time was that Angelina could walk down that street in Cambodia unrecognized and suddenly she wasn’t a celebrity anymore. The reason these interactions are awkward is partly because there is the assumption that the star is recognized and the person doing the recognizing is a fan and as you pointed out, only serves the purpose of adoring the star (rather than being an interesting person in their own right). The thing with the wall that is created by the construct that is celebrity is that it prevents the person on the other side (the star) from even knowing that the fan is something other and more than ‘just’ a fan. That’s why I think the circumstances of how people meet is the key. If a person is invited in, or introduced by a trusted source, the fan might still be a fan in the sense of appreciating the star’s work, but not a ‘just’ a fan in the sense that they are being recognized as a whole person with other stuff going on.

      I thought about this actually when I found out the RA had moved to NYC (I must admit, only found this out recently and it was kind of a mind-blowingly exciting revelation). I would probably never run into him in a coffee shop or whatever but if I did, what would I say? Because as soon as I identify that I know who he is, the wall goes up.

      The one thing I *would* love to do is send him a list of cool things to do, places to eat in Brooklyn.

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      • Thanks for taking the time to answer so elaborately, Sara (? I feel bad reducing your nick to “badass” LOL). Yes, celebrity essentially *is* meaningless – we are all equal, after all. Strangely, we ourselves seem to “make” celebrities. (I can’t even exclude myself from that – after all I write little posts in which I express admiration for my favourite actor.) And simultaneously take ourselves a peg down. – Have you watched Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones) speech on celebrity culture? Addresses exactly this issue – a very interesting take on it all. http://entertainment.ie/tv/news/Watch-Why-Game-of-Thrones-star-Jack-Gleeson-hates-celebrity-culture/238062.htm He poses some interesting questions, for fans and for celebs. And basically comes to a similar conclusion.
        As for the entirely fictional scenario of ever coming face-to-face with my favourite celeb outside a controlled fan environment: Like you, I would neither make any attempt to establish contact, nor would I make myself known as a fan. Because I would feel humiliated to be reduced to only *one* tiny facet of what constitutes *me*. Re. the list of things to do – why not? You can still send him that. You don’t have to sign your name 😉

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        • I had not seen that speech and am very interested to see it. I will watch it soon. Thank you for the link! I have been interested in this issue (not sure I can really call it an issue) for a long time. There is a really interesting neuroscientist who studies the brain in love (using MRIs). I interviewed her last year for a short doc I was working on for a corporate client and I am thinking I need to get in touch with her again to see who (if anyone) is studying how the brain tells the difference between people that you see on tv or movies vs people in real life. I think there is something really interesting in that cinema is only 100 years old, tv only 60 years old. Intellectually we can tell the difference between a person who is an actor on screen and a person in real life, but how do our brains process those perceptive experiences differently? Or do our brains even process them differently? We watch tv or a movie and the perception of the actors enters our brain (as would people we meet in real life) but of course we don’t meet them and they have no idea who we are, but it feels like we know them and we develop the same kinds of feelings that we would if we did know them. Then if we see them in real life, we of course *feel* like we know them because we see them all the time, but of course they don’t know us. But something neurochemical happens when we recognize people we know – that spark of recognition happens whether the other person recognizes us or not. But because of basic social norms (that you don’t start talking to random people you don’t know) we get all these complicated feelings about talking with celebrities because while we *feel* like we know then, we *know* we don’t actually know them.

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          • That sounds very interesting – the neurochemical processes that happen in our brain when we recognise *anyone*. (I have had awkward celebrity encounters – literally – like that before where I walked down the street in my town and saw someone familiar in the crowd, couldn’t quite place him, but knew that I *knew* him and happily said ‘hello’ – only to realize too late it was a TV presenter. Fail.)
            BTW – I do think the cult of celebrity is an issue. It seems to replace some kind of void that we feel, as members of 21st century society. I am kind of conscious of that – and yet I am guilty of participating in it. That illustrates the fact that it says more about us as “fans” and “consumers” of celebrities than the celebrities themselves…

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            • It is funny and awkward even if you recognize someone who isn’t a celeb but doesn’t recognize you or vice versa, and that happens to all of us. If someone recognizes me and I don’t recognize them, it is just kind of confusing, trying to figure out how they know me. Multiply that feeling by a million and we get some sense of how strange it must be to be for RA or any famous person to be recognized often by people that one can’t remember. Maybe that is why the red carpet works so well with that very clear barrier – because the celeb knows what is expected of them (smile and sign autographs), and the fans are separated and identified (i.e. you don’t have to recognize this person because you haven’t met them, you just have to smile and sign their program). Whereas if a celeb is standing in line at the coffee shop and is recognized they don’t have that clear map, things are out of place. I wonder if they start to feel a little suspicious of people because they are recognized so often or if they just assume people recognize them because they are famous. I wonder what goes through their mind as they get in line at the coffee shop – will I be recognized by a stranger? That has to be a lot of pressure in terms of just living one’s life outside one’s home. I often look like absolute sh-t when walking my dog or just running out to the store and while I wouldn’t mind the perks of being rich and famous, it would kind of suck to have people constantly judging my appearance when I just need to slip out to walk the dog. (Although I think that is a much bigger problem for female celebs than male). I imagine RA doesn’t get recognized on the street in NYC as much as he must have in London. I have a lot of friends who had no idea who he was (but they do now hahah).

              As far as celebrity culture – I am really interested in the social structure that creates and sustains the separation (and hierarchy). Celebrity culture serves a purpose, at the core basically economic. All of these cultural products (music, movies, tv, magazines etc), are products for sale and the celebrities are the selling point. I loved The Hobbit as a kid, but I don’t know if I would have made the effort to see it in the theatre if RA wasn’t in it. That’s one $12 ticket sold.

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  9. Great read — insightful, funny, and thought-provoking. I agree with you Gulty re: the strangeness of the admirer/admired interaction. I am NOT shy 😉 but I am, however, oddly constrained(?) by etiquette (of all things!) Do I say something? I don’t want to freak anybody out. Surely just a ‘Hello. I am a great fan of your work.’ would be alright? Isn’t fan short for ‘fanatic’? And so on until this inner monologue runs its course & I realize the moment has passed. Good Grief! It’s kinda goofy. But there you have it. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much for the lovely compliments. I love those adjectives. I also get stuck thinking, how do I handle this situation? What do I say? And then the moment passes.

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  10. Wait wait wait…you were late because of Humans of New York? I’m one if Brandon’s 2.3 million followers, I *LOVE* him and his blog and the curiosity he has about everything. I saw the picture of the pooch when he posted it and thought he was darling. THAT is an outstanding reason to be late and I totally agree that the universe tagged you there. What a great story! Thank you for sharing!

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    • Thank you so much for commenting. Yes, HONY is amazing and what happened as insane. Basically one of my rescue partners wanted to name a dog after Brandon and we were discussing how to make sure he noticed (I still don’t know how he did notice since we didn’t post it to his page). When he posted it it was completely unexpected and within a couple of hours we had 600 new fb fans. And this had just started happening when I was getting ready to leave. (By now btw we have over 1000 new fb followers!). The whole team was freaking out, emailing each other, and the post was getting so many comments. So here is a good example of how insanely powerful that post was. Most of our posts get a few hundred views, sometimes 1500 or 2500. Over the holidays I paid a little to promote a couple of posts and the one that got the most was 13,000 views. I thought that was amazing. I checked the next day to see how many views our HONY dog post had and it was over 1 million. Mind boggling. The hope, as with any publicity we get, is that it will lead to more followers who will be inspired by our page and hopefully eventually donate. We actually did a whole series of dogs named for Downton Abbey characters and have tied that in to the premiere of the new season. Check out The Daily Badass on tumblr which is our blog.

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  11. WHY??? Why didn’t you sit down next to Richard???? He looks so nice and cute!! Nothing inaccesible at all!! I would have sit down next to him FOR SURE!!!! I wish I had the oportunity!! Lucky girl no doubt!

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    • hahahahh well, for all intents and purposes I was next to him – just one empty seat between us but yeah, it was one of those things where I was like oy, if some random came and sat next to me when there was a whole row of empty seats I would be like, what is wrong with this person? I wonder if New Yorkers like our personal space so much because we live in such tiny apartments and have to be crammed up against strangers all the time on the subway hahaha

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  12. Thank you for a lovely post, and thoughts about fan/celebrity encounters. I’m happy everyone had such a good encounter with Richard after the reading. Much thanks for saying you saw North & South on PBS, as I did too, I feel less alone now.

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  13. What a wonderful, thoughtful and thought-provoking account! Thanks so much for sharing . Now I’m curious to learn more about the documentaries you mentioned. They sound really interesting.

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    • Thank you so much for the lovely compliments! Definitely check out the films I mentioned, all should be available on dvd and netflix. I also listed a few others in a comment at the bottom but if you didn’t see that, also check out: Man on Wire, In a Dream, Searching for Sugarman, all amazing films.

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  14. Reblogged this on Saraleee and commented:
    I really enjoyed this guest post for its thoughtful take on the “glass wall” between celebrities and fans, and the reflections on memory and fiction, and for the reference to “Humans of New York,” which is such a cool blog!

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  15. I think the author will be here to comment shortly, but she sent this message:

    ” “aww the comments are so nice and positive! i am so happy! I don’t know how to comment on the blog but so pleased that people seem to ‘get it'”

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  16. She also said this:

    “Michaela Servetus was kind enough to offer to publish a guest blog post about my experience at the 92Y Pinter/Proust event the other night. Going into the event, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t have anything worth saying (I am not an expert on theatre) or that I wouldn’t know how to write specifically for a blog. She encouraged me to just make it personal and then of course some interesting things happened. … I spend a lot of time on long term film projects and the gratification of sharing the project with an audience is delayed, to say the least. I have written things before that I would like for people to have seen, but the barrier to publication (or production) was too high. It is really uplifting to spend a few hours writing something creative and then poof, 12 hours later it’s online for the world to see – instant gratification. I get it now, why people like blogging. I have been converted.”

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  17. […] you’ve not yet read the detailed observations about stumbling over Richard Armitage, please check them out! […]

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  18. Loved reading all of this, thanks for sharing.

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  19. This is a wonderful read, thank you so much to the guest blogger for sharing. Not only did I love reading about your close encounter with RA (and Colin Firth who is a favourite of mine) but I found your perspective on “the glass wall” and the insight you gave me into documentary film making very interesting.

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  20. Hi all – Thank you for all the lovely comments. I am so pleased that you all enjoyed the piece. I appreciate you all sticking with it, as I know it was a long post and covered a few topics. It was such a crazy experience, I am very glad to be able to share it with the community (thanks to the generosity of Servetus both offering to post and really helping me edit it into something that was readable). So the funny thing is, I woke up at 4am thinking to myself that I can’t remember if he said something or if he just nodded (when he got up to let me in). I feel like he might have just nodded. But it made me laugh because of course the whole idea of memory and how we remember things and here I have fallen into exactly that trap.

    I don’t know if you guys know how uplifting it is for me to see your positive comments. It really means a lot. One of my biggest frustrations in life is just how LONG it takes to finish a project (mostly because funding is so scarce), and sometimes it just feels like this slog that will never end. When I have had the opportunity to create smaller projects that can be finished and seen on a faster schedule, those times have really renewed my spirit and kept me going. I don’t have a blog, so if I had written this piece and posted it to facebook or something, a few friends would have read it, but it wouldn’t have reached its intended audience or anything close to as many readers. It is hard work building an audience and I am so grateful that Servetus allowed me access to her readership because it means the people who want to see it can have access to it.

    If anyone wants to see the films I mentioned, Cutie and the Boxer is on cable VOD (the pay on demand channel), 20 Feet From Stardom is on itunes and just came out on dvd and Stories We Tell is on dvd and must be on itunes at this point as well. All absolutely fantastic films. Personally, 20 Feet From Stardom is probably my favorite film (narrative or doc) to have come out in the past few years. I started crying about 2/3 of the way in and was literally sobbing afterwards as I told everyone I met how amazing it was. It is the story of 4 of the most ‘famous’ voices in music history – the backup singers whose voices are heard on basically every hit song you can remember since the 60s, but you don’t know their names. The film was particularly powerful for me because I identify so much with that position of being almost there but not quite there, of being the support but not the star. And of course they are all women. And in the film world, it is pretty abysmal for women in writing and directing. As a woman who wants to be directing, and is often stuck producing – facilitating other people’s dreams – it meant a lot to me to see that feeling portrayed on screen.

    If you guys like documentaries, a few more fantastic films to check out (which should be on dvd and/or netflix): Man on Wire (fav film for several years, so entertaining and fun), In A Dream (incredible, beautiful), Searching for Sugarman (won the Oscar last year, amazing film about a songwriter who was living in poverty in Detroit and unbeknownst to him his album was one of the most widely sold and respected albums in South Africa for over 20 years). OMG I can’t believe I didn’t mention that film in this post. Talk about insanity – the guy was the most ‘famous’ artist in a whole country and he didn’t even know it!

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  21. Great reading 🙂 Thank you for sharing,badassbksara!
    Oh..*sigh*..you stumbled over Richard Armitage…spoke to Colin Firth..
    ..Excuse me , but I’m going to lie here in fetal position.

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and to Serv for publishing it here. So beautifully written. (BTW: I’m an observer too … I wonder how I would have been at the meet and greet as I tend to stand back too much and regret it later).

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I regret not engaging when he was signing and doing pics. I *think* this will not be my last chance (gosh, I really hope not).

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  23. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Really enjoyed reading about your encounter and the “glass wall”. I thought you held yourself together well. I wouldn’t have had the nerve to take the seat next to him either but I would have been seriously tempted to look at him, rather than the stage. I hope you have good peripheral vision. I also liked your description of him as a movie star. I don’t know how he seems to be invisible when he wants to be. Maybe there are just so many beautiful movie stars in New York that people trip over them on the sidewalk. And thanks to Serv for passing on your story to us.

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting. You know what is funny – I sometimes think about all the celebrities I have seen in life, since moving here. The funniest thing is when I really really think I know someone but it turns out to be an actor who maybe isn’t that well known.

      Almost 20 years ago I was in this store with a friend and she was trying on clothes and there was this other woman trying on clothes and a guy with her. The guy looked SO familiar. It was a small store, so I just asked him, do we know each other? And he started looking like he was trying to think and asking me a few questions like what neighborhood I lived, where I had gone to school, as if he was really trying to figure out if we knew each other. And then the woman came out and she looked familiar too. The guy laughed and said you might recognize us because ‘we are on Law and Order’. hahahahah He was totally messing with me. It was Benjamin Bratt and Jill Hennessey (and they were both very nice, it was pretty funny).

      Last year I was in a cafe that I go to at least once a week and this guy looked really familiar and it took me a while to place him because I don’t watch Gossip Girl but it was Penn Badgely (sp?). I didn’t say anything since honestly I wouldn’t know him from Adam. Of course it’s never the ONE celebrity I actually *want* to see! I honestly can’t imagine if I were in the cafe and RA walked in! The streets of NYC are so densely populated, but trust me, most people are not that beautiful hahah.

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  24. Shivers! Lovely memories you have there!

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  25. Wow, I’ve really enjoyed your post: I find the notion of the glass wall really interesting and I completely agree with it. Thanks for sharing, it’s thought-provoking indeed!

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  26. […] This is our fellow fan who fell over Richard Armitage in the aisle. […]

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  27. Reblogged this on saraalizecross and commented:
    The blog post that started it all – fellow Richard Armitage fan invited me to write a guest post about seeing him in a staged reading for her popular blog and it was such a good experience that it encouraged me to overcome my fear of technology to start my own blog

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  28. […] 3. I stumbled over Richard Armitage at 92Y [guest post], published January 18, 2014. This is Sara Alize Cross‘ account of rushing to the theater to hear a talk about the play Armitage was participating in, falling into one of the back seats and — falling over Richard Armitage. Reflects the euphoria of that New York event excellently, I find. I think this might be first guest post to make the top ten. […]

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