Meeting your favorite celebrity in person is always a fun and exciting moment. For some people, however, it may also be a little overwhelming, especially if it is their first such experience. Sometimes, they are so overcome by excitement at the fact that they have actually chanced upon their favorite public figure in the flesh, that all common sense flies right out the window.
Often, a person’s first instinct is to go running over and ask for an autograph or photo opportunity, while professing your undying admiration and appreciation for the genius that this person has displayed in his or her field. Unfortunately, this is usually not a very wise move, as it tends to immediately put the celebrity on their guard, particularly if they are trying to enjoy private family time.
Being in the public eye, most celebrities have a sharply heightened fight or flight impulse. If you come flying unannounced into their personal space, they are more likely to regard you as a threat rather than just an over-zealous fan. I mean think how you would feel if a totally crazy stranger came running up to you shouting like a banshee and waving things in your face to be signed! There is also a second disadvantage to this approach. Depending on where you are, it may alert security to your presence, and cause you to be escorted off the premises…or worse, you could even be arrested; trust me, I’ve seen it happen!
In fact, you really should never approach a celebrity out of nowhere for any reason. When dealing with celebrities, respect for their privacy is of utmost importance. The correct thing to do is to allow them to come to you. With as much discretion as possible, make your presence and intention known to them. If they choose to approach you on their own accord and sign an autograph, so be it; if not, then it is best to graciously accept “no” for an answer. And of course it goes without saying that you should never interrupt their personal time; if they are having a conversation or dining in a restaurant, wait politely until they are finished before making your request!
Remember that celebrities are real people too, and they deserve the same courtesy that you would show to any other person. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when meeting the famous is getting overly familiar with them. Just because you may have listened to their music, watched their television show or movie, or read their book does not put you on a first name basis with them. They seem familiar to you because you see them every day, but you are a complete stranger to them…just one of hundreds that they meet every single day. You should always keep in mind that you do not know them personally. Maintain a polite and respectful demeanor at all times.
Another rule of autograph collecting is always come prepared. If you are seeking an autograph, make sure you have a working pen with you, and that whatever you wish to have signed is at the ready; if you are seeking a photo, make sure your camera is loaded with film (if required), and is in proper working order. Celebrities usually have very little spare time, so the small amount that they do have is very valuable to them; they do not appreciate having it wasted.
Also, be aware that you should never monopolize their attention. Keep in mind that you are not the only person putting demands on their time! You should limit your autograph request to one or two items at the most; handing them a stack of items is a presumptuous imposition that is largely frowned upon! Most celebrities try very hard to be gracious and accommodating to all of their fans, and they find it disturbing when one person in the group tries to make a pest of themselves!
Excessive flattery is also an annoyance. There is absolutely nothing that you can say to a celebrity that they haven’t heard a thousand times before. Compliments are a dime a dozen, and celebrities have plenty of people around them to stroke their egos. Besides, most of them hate that anyway! Of course, that’s not to say that they don’t appreciate a genuine compliment on their work, or a sincere congratulations on a recent achievement…just don’t gush compliments at them in an attempt to get on their good side; remember, they have been around the block a few times, and can spot a phony from a mile away!
Lastly, here is a tip that applies specifically to actors. Try to disassociate them from their characters. It is the height of poor form to call an actor by his character’s name…and for God’s sake, whatever you do, do not ask them to recite popular dialogue or catchphrases from their films or TV shows. That is just embarrassing for both you and the celebrity!
In a nutshell, you will easily have a good outcome if you just use little common sense, coupled with a touch of courtesy. As I said before, celebrities are people too, and they already have enough people to give them the “star” treatment. They usually find it refreshing when their fans are able to treat them like a real person rather than a celebrity. So, now that you have all the information necessary to make your first celebrity encounter a pleasant and memorable experience for everyone involved, I hope you will find it helpful if you ever have the opportunity to put it to use!