October 19, 2014

I'm #Blessed Part Two - "The Best of Me" Premiere

For as long as I can remember, it has been a dream of mine to interview on the red carpet. I've been to several premieres as a fan, just hoping to catch a glimpse of the action or to meet a few of the stars. But, to be able to interview as an actual journalist for a publication still seemed so far away. I'm still in college, just hoping to find a decent job after I graduate. There's no glitz or glamour in my future. Until my mom, Lady Antebellum and Country Weekly stepped in and helped the dream come true a lot sooner than anticipated.

An experience like that is more than words, pictures or stories can ever say, but I've sure done my best to put the feeling of what it's like to have a dream come true like that.

I was terrified, but calm all at the same time - from the moment I found out, to the moment I checked in that night. I was racking my brain, trying to find questions, talking with family for inspiration and watching previous interviews with the stars about the film. I was trying to do everything that I possibly could to prepare.

The morning of the premiere, I took my time getting ready - Had some hot tea, reviewed my notes, then talked with the editor of Country Weekly about what to do that night. After that, I felt more at ease. I did my makeup, slipped into my dress and curled my hair, then it was time to go.

We stopped at the Walmart in Valencia to pick up the soundtrack to the movie, because our Walmart never seems to have new releases. Then, we cranked up the volume and listened to it on our drive to Los Angeles. I also read through the Zine Pak information guide, which was almost like a cheat sheet for the movie. So, I was brainstorming questions and tweaking things to ask. We made it to the Burbank area and decided to have lunch at Claim Jumper. Well, I haven't been eating that much and that day, my nerves were so shot...Needless to say, I didn't eat much. I had the shakes, my head was already pounding and I felt sick. I was just praying to have enough energy to make it through the rest of the night with so much excitement going on around me.

My mom and I made it to LA a lot quicker than we thought we would, so we had a bit of time to kill. I tried to check in, but apparently they weren't handing out passes just yet. There was a big mix up and I was starting to get a little worried, but trying to stay as calm as possible. Eventually, after walking back and forth and asking multiple people, I was able to get checked in and find my spot on the carpet. That's when the nerves started setting in. We took pictures on the red carpet and started chatting with some of the people around us, and I tried to review my notes as much as possible.

Soon, people were arriving and I started freaking out. I've done interviews, yes, and I've met plenty of stars over the years. But, doing the two together for an actual Hollywood premiere? HOLY COW!!! Obviously, the supporting actors and lesser knowns were showing up as the carpet opened, and suddenly, my mind was going blank about what to ask these people. I didn't get to look up everyone's biographies and I hadn't even heard of someone. But, suddenly, they're asking if I want to talk to someone and I hear myself say, 'sure.' I said a silent prayer, took a deep breath and soon, I was talking with many of the younger actors starring in the film, the composer of the movie's score and a few other random actors who just wanted to attend. I asked them about being in a Nicholas Sparks film, were they fans, filming in Louisiana and I found that they were all very easy to talk to and understanding. Everything I was saying felt so natural, and I knew that it was certainly a God thing. I really enjoyed getting to know a few new people and to hear their outlook on love. There was so much buzz on the carpet, but I was enjoying every second of it - lost in whatever conversation I was having.

The carpet had been going for awhile and had started to speed up. Now, all of the big names were arriving. I could see Lady Antebellum, Nicholas Sparks and others making their way through the sea of people. This was the real moment I had been waiting to. Lady Antebellum greeted my mom and I with hugs and smiles, and stayed awhile to chat. We talked about their new music, their opening act in the works for the tour and of course, what it was like to have their song in a Nicholas Sparks album. Hillary said she cried about 2/3 of the way through the movie, so I should have known then that it was going to be a tearjerker. It was so surreal that they actually knew my name and recognized me in a setting like that. But, there was no time for freaking out, nor was that the place to do it. So, I just kept looking forward to whoever I was chatting with next. 

I talked with Nicholas Sparks about his writing and movies these days, as well as how important a soundtrack is to his movie and why there was so much country music on this particular one.
I talked with James Marsden about coming back for a Nicholas Sparks movie as the leading man, country music and his first love.
Michelle Monaghan and I bonded over being journalism majors and what it was like to work with James Marsden. 
Liana Liberato told me what a dream it was to be an 18-year-old girl starring in a Nicholas Sparks movie. 

The carpet then came to a close and everyone wandered inside to get free snacks and find their seats. I couldn't believe that I had just wrapped my first Hollywood red carpet as a reporter, and was about to watch a Nicholas Sparks film with the rest of the cast and crew. What in the world?!

We made our way inside and I was trying to catch my breath from all of the excitement. As we were walking upstairs to our seats, Nicholas Sparks was just hanging out on the steps, eating popcorn. This was my chance to get a real picture with him, so I stopped after a couple other girls stopped to talk to him. So, I got my picture and he told me what a great job I did on the carpet. That's when I really started pinching myself! 

We grabbed some popcorn and a soda, then went to our seats. I get to my row and realize that James Marsden is standing a few seats down from me and is making his way back to the end of the aisle (where I'm standing). I had heard some others ask for a picture, so when he walked past me, I asked for one. He said he didn't have time to stop, but asked if he'd see me after. I told him I'd see him at the after party...And then I had to text my best friend about the encounter, while acting totally calm on the outside, like I do this every day. Pretty soon, the director, Nicholas Sparks and a few others gave a short talk about their role on the film and gave a formal introduction for what we were about to see.

Pretty soon, the movie started and everyone clapped as each name appeared on the screen. It was hard to believe that under the balcony, anyone and everyone was there. Let's just say, I should have listened when everyone said bring Kleenex, but I didn't. I thought, 'I'll be fine. It won't be that bad.' Oh, I was so wrong. Plus, I was just incredibly emotional after talking with everyone. It has action, a love story and it's not overly sappy, like some chick flicks, which makes it very believable. But, I was speechless and wiping my eyes with my buttery popcorn napkin, stinging my eyes even worse than the tears were. And then it was time to go to the after party. I was seriously in a daze.

We made it through the lobby and saw Charles Kelley leave, then started heading towards Club Nokia, as the celebrities were getting picked up in their fancy SUVs. Well, we ended up going a bit too far, and being that it's LA, there are multiple events happening on one street. We ended up at some Microsoft bash and realized we were in the wrong place. So, we wandered back across the street and found our way to the right place. We walked into the room - Fancy blue/purple lighting was glowing throughout and music was playing. People were mingling and eating, so my mom and I just sort of hung back for a few minutes, then walked around. The cast started arriving a bit later. Pretty soon, it was PACKED and we felt totally out of place. HA! But, I couldn't wait for Lady A to take the stage. 

They sang a slew of hits and of course, "I Did With You," the movie's theme. I was singing and dancing along to every song. They are incredible performers who know how to have FUN while doing it. My love for them has grown even more and they continue to prove to me why they are my favorite group. 

Not long after they sang, we had decided to leave when I spotted James Marsden in the VIP circle. The publicist lady that had been with him earlier when I asked actually spotted us and said they owed us a picture and let me walk down to the floor. After several people finished talking with him, I asked for a picture and he remembered me from upstairs. That was really exciting. As I was walking off, I remembered that I had wanted to try to get him to record a message to my best friend for her birthday, so he politely accepted and I was SO EXCITED.

It was getting later and I had an exam the next morning, so it was time to go. But, everything I could have hoped for had already happened. It was a magical night and I felt like twirling in my fancy dress. I just kept thinking, 'I could easily do this for a living,' as we wrapped up the night. I felt so proud of everything I did on the red carpet. Since then, sure, I've thought of more questions I could have asked or how I could have done things differently, but you don't know until you go through it the first time. Now, when I do my next red carpet, I'll be prepared and know how it works.

It was probably the greatest experience of my life and whenever I'm feeling discouraged, I think back to that night and how far I've come. I still have plenty to learn, but that was a big step in everything that I do in the future. I'm one step closer to living out my dreams. I feel like if I can survive something like that, I'm gonna be alright.

We listened to the soundtrack on the way home, gabbing about the movie and the stars; everything in between. I still couldn't get over the ending, but that's another story entirely. I was still wide awake and wanted to tell my dad about everything when we got home.

I'm still on a high from everything, and I'm not sure that I'll be coming down from it anytime soon!

That's all for now,
Shelby :)

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