A Guide to Interacting with Your Favorite Celebrity at a Con
(by someone who frequently assists those celebrities)
Now this is by no means a full-proof guide. Just like you and I, celebrities are real people with unique and diverse personalities, wants, dislikes, and discomforts. But having interacted with a number of celebrities, and witnessed their behind-the-scenes reactions to fan interactions, I thought I’d pass along a few tips:
- Never give them food. Sealed, commercial food is sometimes fine, especially if they’ve expressed a fondness for it or a direct request. But I have never once seen a celebrity eat something a fan brought to them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given cookies, doughnuts, cake, and the like, because they passed it along. This is by no means them being rude or a sleight. Think about it: There are a lot of crazy fans out there. We’ve all met and interacted with them. Would you be willing to accept something from one of these people? When you only have a minute or less to interact with lots of fans, how can you pick these people out? Also, they’re often given specific instructions not to consume anything by their agents/managers. (But the volunteers that inevitably inherit the food don’t complain!)
- Don’t make the inane comment or joke they have definitely heard a million times. They have literally spent the entire day/weekend listening to people say the exact same things. It isn’t funny or interesting anymore. You will blend in with the thousands of other people who have said it.
- DO share a personal story or thought-provoking question. I have seen so many celebrities touched at the personal stories of personal growth or overcoming a difficulty inspired by their work; it reminds them why they do what they do in the face of those thousands of fans sharing inane stories. They do care. They do like to hear that they matter to someone, especially when it’s not just a blanket statement of “I love you!”
- That being said, be careful not to overshare. While most celebrities do attend conventions in order to interact with their fans, at the end of the day, they are there to make money. Those people who stand there talking their ears off, sharing way too many details and drifting into uncomfortable territory while holding up the line of otherwise paying people behind them are not cool. If you find yourself telling them things you would be uncomfortable telling your roommate, or talking past the point your best friend probably would have told you to shut up, you’ve gone too far.
- If you’re going to bring them a gift, bring them something you made. Don’t get me wrong, many celebrities I’ve worked with are grateful for any gift a fan sees fit to bring them. But the ones that really have an impact are hand-drawn fanart or crafts. (Don’t bring them your fanfiction or adult-rated fanart. That’s uncomfortable for everyone involved.) If it’s something you picked up in the vendor room that made you think of them, or you bought it from the studio that produced the show, chances are they already have it, or someone else brought it to them before you. Celebrities have limited baggage space to take their things back with them; only add to that space if it’s something that counts.
- Don’t ask if they remember you from X. They literally meet thousands of people at these events, and many of them are spread out across the years. It’s not that you’re not important, it’s just that expecting them to remember everyone they ever met would make their heads explode. Do you remember everyone you attended classes with in school? Because I don’t.
- Have something prepared to talk about. That is if you want to talk to them. I understand the shy people, or those who are getting autographs for a friend or family member. But if you’re intent on talking to them, have something ready before hand. Chances are that what you came up with when you weren’t stressed about being face to face with them is going to be far more interesting than what your asshole brain throws out in the last minute.
- Celebrities get tired of talking about themselves. They do it at every con they go to, every press interview they give, every time they run into an excited fan on the street. If you want to make their day better, ask them about their heroes, or what their favorite city is, or what their favorite thing to do is. They’ll be more excited by questions like that, and you’ll learn something you couldn’t get from going through their past interviews.
- Remember that they’re human. To be perfectly honest, the majority of the problems listed above or the cringe-worthy interactions I have witnessed would be ended if people kept this in mind. Their interactions are bound by the convention they’ve signed a contract with and the manager or agent representing them. They’ve got a whole list of anxieties, discomforts, and worries just like you. They get bored, they get frustrated, they get uncomfortable. They like people who make them laugh, they care about people, and they are just doing their job. They don’t owe you anything. They chose to be there. Don’t make them regret that choice.