So, it happened again: I met another one of my idols today — and it was nuts! It all started when I came across a website a couple of weeks ago that listed live shows that taped in NYC with free tickets. Since I moved here in May, I’ve wanted to take more advantage of the amazing things that go on in this city everyday — a lot of things that some people might call “touristy.” I’ve realized that I forget I live in New York City sometimes, and as much as being a local is great, it makes you kind of lazy. Sometimes, I just get the urge to live like a tourist because they’re doing things that are really…cool — for the lack of a better word. Getting tickets and standing in line to see someone like Anderson Cooper might not be something every New Yorker wants to do, but I was ready in a heartbeat.
I’ve been an Anderson Cooper fan for years and started watching his talk show last year when I was living at home in Texas. I had completely forgotten his show filmed here, and getting tickets was as simple as filling out a form and choosing a date. Voila — I had my ticket in a couple of hours! Originally, I had decided I would just go on my own because my schedule is more flexible, and I knew most people couldn’t just take off a day of work to go. Then I enlisted a fellow UT Journalism grad friend and Anderson Cooper fan, Ryan, who recently moved to New York himself. We both got our tickets really easily and were counting down the days until we’d be in the audience of Anderson Live!
This morning, all I could think to myself was: I have got to talk to him or meet him. After what happened 2 years ago at Oprah’s show — I figured nothing was impossible, and I could feel the crazy in me starting to unleash itself (Ryan was forewarned). We arrive promptly at 10:30 for the 11:00 call-time and stood outside for a while before we were checked through security and escorted to the waiting room. Surprisingly, they didn’t take our phones or cameras. I was approached to see if I’d like to ask the guest on the show that day (who I can’t talk about) a question, and I said of course! I was told there might not even be time for questions, but they took my name down and the question I’d ask ahead of time just in case. About half an hour later, a couple of small groups of people including Ryan and me were escorted to the studio first. If Oprah’s studio was small, Anderson’s was tiny (much smaller than it looks on TV!) The studio was set up in mostly long benches on the ground floor and then individual seats that tiered up. Lo and behold, I got the aisle seat right in the middle (and on the last ground floor row) because I was supposed to ask my question. Needless to say, flashbacks of Oprah’s show were coming back to me. I was so excited thinking that Anderson might be walking by me to the stage. Unfortunately he didn’t (yet), and we just saw him pop up on the set from another entrance. Before he came out, the audience team got the audience pumped and excited for the show. The lady walked over to where I was sitting and told the audience that Anderson really liked to hang out there when talking to the audience (!!!) so, just to know that he would probably coming by.
A little later, Anderson came over to greet the audience — he stood less than 3 feet in front of me and the rush of blood just took over. He took questions from the audience, which I had no idea would happen, so I started frantically thinking of what I could say to him. Without thinking, I raised my hand and because he was standing right in front of me, he looked at me right away and called on me….!
My first reaction was that of a 5-year-old girl’s who just met Prince Charming: I shrank down, giggled and blushed with my heart pounding. Oh my gosh, what do I say?! He and the whole audience laughed (although he didn’t do his famous giggle), and he graciously came closer to shake my hand and ask me how I was. (He added, “Hi, I’m Anderson.” with a big smile on his face — swoon!) I took a big breath, introduced myself and told him that I was a journalist, had moved here in May and meeting him has been my main goal since coming here. (Partially true) I told him embarrassingly that I always looked for him when walking around in NYC (to which he said “Oh I’m all over!”). I told him I tweeted him all the time too and he actually asked what my Twitter handle was (as if he would recognize it?). Again, slightly embarrassing when I told him it was “IamFoprah.” He replied, “I am Foprah?” and I explained to him that I met Oprah a couple of years ago because I told her my nickname was Foprah (full circle or what?), and she actually told me that great things like this would happen to me if I just let them. I told him that I felt like that’s why I was sitting there and I was so excited! He then asked me where I had moved from and I told him, following it up by asking how he liked Texas. Anderson said he really liked it — mentioning Houston and Dallas and only Austin when I asked him about it (bummer). He said he really liked Austin too and mentioned the new 85 mph speed limit, and how he really wanted to go down there and just speed like crazy down the road haha!
And that was my chat with Anderson. He didn’t give me amazing insight or ask me backstage, but we had a small conversation (and he subconsciously knows my Twitter handle…). My friend, Ryan, was no less lucky.
The audience team lady had called on him prior to this and asked him about himself. When she realized how nervous and embarrassed he got being called on (by the different colors his face kept turning), she kept picking on him during the commercial breaks. At one point she jokingly said, “I wonder how many more colors your face can change.” to which I told her to bring Anderson over and see. Halfway through the show, during another commercial break — she did it. She brought Anderson over to meet Ryan on the pretense of trying to see his face change color (it did), and they met and shook hands, too.
After the show, Anderson took more questions and he stood inches from me the entire time. All I could think was, how do I get him to take us backstage?! Alas, it didn’t happen — but the experience was just amazing. Truthfully, he is a really funny and down-to-earth person that I couldn’t respect more. He spoke about his love for reporting and storytelling and how staying neutral in his work helped him to connect with people he interviewed. The audience clapped when he said he felt that sometimes people are their best in tragedies, and he had seen it firsthand during situations like Hurricane Katrina when total strangers helped each other. What he had to say about journalism was really admirable, and when people ask me why I’m so in love with Anderson Cooper, I say because I respect him and his work. Anderson Cooper as a person and professional is truly great — and okay, he’s gorgeous and extremely charming in person, too!
Sigh, what a fantastic day! Anderson, I sincerely hope we meet again very soonnnn!