Barbara Wayman, me, Diana Long, Meredith Liepelt
Let me preface this by saying that I grew up in Santa Barbara. Because we're so close to Los Angeles, yet somewhat isolated, celebrities are a dime a dozen here. They own homes or come for the weekend. They shop at the farmers market, eat breakfast at hometown haunts and of course, attend the occasional gala event like the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

We let them be. It's not cool in Santa Barbara to bombard movie stars for autographs or to ogle them from across the room. We don't get starstruck.

So WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO ME Tuesday night, when I attended my first ever big Hollywood event, the Costume Designers Guild Awards?

I didn't go into it expecting lots of movie and TV stars, although I knew Kristin Davis would be the emcee and Halle Berry would be accepting an award. I figured there would be lots of successful costume industry people, a nice cocktail reception, dinner and awards speeches. I was with a group of women invited by my cousin Barbara, and I looked forward to meeting and enjoying a glamorous evening with these fellow coaches and consultants from across the country.

I was a theater major in college, my emphasis on acting. But through a serendipitous series of events, ended up senior year a costume design major. I still find costume design fascinating and analyze every detail of movie and TV costumes. I felt so lucky to be part of an event honoring such creative people. But the costume designers' faces were not familiar to me like the performers' faces were.

From the moment Kristin Davis walked by in her gorgeous black-on-white polka dot gown, I knew I was not going to be cool. I knew I was going to gawk. I so wanted to be unfazed, but it was not to be. Barbara managed to find her way into the VIP press lounge as part of an entourage of colleagues and friends. When she came out, she had met Bill Paxton and spotted Bette Midler somewhere in the crowd.

And then it just got more and more surreal as the movie and TV personalities piled up. I spotted Kathy Griffin, one of my favorite comedians (and the subject of a few Speak Schmeak blog posts), sitting at the next table on the lower level, facing me. As I gawked and squealed, suddenly Barbara and Meredith appeared in my view, chatting with Kathy along with their friend Lash who, of course, knew Kathy. As I marveled at how the heck they got there so fast, Diana, sitting next to me, started to jump out of her seat to join them. I said, "Are you going?" and impulsively leaped up to join her. We nearly sprinted to the Kathy Griffin table.

Here's something about me people don't believe: I'm shy. I love standing up in front of an audience of 500 people to speak. But when it comes to introducing myself to someone I admire, I'm a total freak. I will hide in a dark corner rather than say hello to someone of whom I'm a fan. I could have sat at that table all night staring at Kathy Griffin, just a few feet away. Thank goodness for the impulsiveness of Diana, forcing me to take action.

I butted right to the front of the group, probably a little rudely, to say hello to Kathy, who was absolutely lovely and charming. She asked if I wanted to take a picture and uh, heck YEAH I wanted to take a picture. She very graciously posed with me as Lash snapped away (I hope I actually get a copy!). I thanked her for being so willing to be accosted by and photographed with strangers. Then the conversation continued, and Diana and I went back to our seats.

There was a charming and handsome young man at our table, who looked familiar. Turns out he was Matt Lauria, from The Chicago Code and Friday Night Lights, two shows I've never watched. He was what someone my age calls a "nice young man."

And the presenters kept coming. Robert Duvall, Melora Hardin, Lisa Edelstein, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Claire Danes, Isaiah Mustafa (yes -- the Old Spice Guy!), Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Diane Lane, Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Maher, Samuel L. Jackson...

It was a fairly small room and the presenters weren't far from us. It was easier to see them on the monitors, however, so we mostly watched the big screens. Which is how we normally view celebrities, right? Then I would turn my head and that person was standing RIGHT THERE, making an award presentation. Surreal, I tell you.

And yes, I ogled. I gawked. I stared. I tweeted and Facebooked and took a ton of pictures. And enjoyed every minute.

I'm a thinker and planner, but the "doing" usually follows much later, which is why my theme word for 2011 is "ACT!" Unfortunately, "acting" doesn't always come easily, which is why I'm so grateful for Diana motivating me to go meet Kathy Griffin. In the grand scheme of things, it's maybe a minor event in my life. But why not take the opportunity when it presents itself?

I find I'm now second guessing myself, wishing I had taken MORE action. "Why didn't I tell Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton how much I enjoyed their presentations?" Why didn't I do this? Why didn't I do that? In fact, because I was so in the moment, and hadn't planned or thought out anything, I couldn't take action at all.

My lesson in this: There is indeed value in the planning and preparation that I like to do, if I want to be on my toes making things happen.

A little planning goes a long way, but so does a little action!

(Shout out to Barbara, Meredith, Diana, Ruth and Jill, my companions for the evening: a group of powerful, accomplished, brilliant and gorgeous women that I'm so glad to have met!)

Photos from the event are here.


Anonymous said...

Lisa, what an aweseome event and you girls look stunning!!

Love your theme for 2011! I think I'm going to write ACT every where to give myself a push.

In the last 2 weeks I know 3 people who have met a celebrity. What's ironic is my goal is to have a celebrity wear one of our accessories and it's been on my mind for a long time. So all these celebrities are poping up. I think this is telling me to ACT!!! What do you think? :)


Lisa Braithwaite said...

I definitely think there's a message for you, Leslie! It's gonna happen!