If you happen to live in the New York City or Los Angeles area, meeting celebrities in public may be a non-event. But for the rest of us, the chance encounter with one of our favorite television stars or other public figure can leave quite an impression. Our first instinct may be to ask that person for his or her autograph, or seek a photo opportunity. We may want to thank them for their hard work and accomplishments, or occasionally we may want to give them a piece of our minds. Whatever the reason, most of us would love to meet our favorite celebrities in a normal setting, such as in a restaurant or during a vacation.
But, to paraphrase an old saying about the rich, the famous are not like us- they are different. You must respect their right to privacy and discretion. Most celebrities will be more than willing to give you an autograph or pose for a quick snapshot, if you follow the same rules that would apply to any other stranger you approach. Here are some rules of etiquette to follow when encountering a favorite celebrity in public:-
- 1. If they are with their children or family members, keep your distance. While many celebrities are more than gracious with their fans, they are extremely protective of their family members. Many young children with celebrity parents do not fully realize what Mommy or Daddy does for a living. The idea of total strangers approaching their parents can easily frighten them. Stars may also fear stalkers or kidnappers, and are especially guarded around their own children. You may encounter a very persuasive bodyguard if you approach any celebrity on vacation with their family. Wait until the person is alone before approaching them, or wait for them to acknowledge your presence before getting too close for comfort.
- 2. Actors and other celebrities should still be addressed as Mr. or Ms. If you do approach a celebrity, address them as Mister Hanks or Ms. Roberts, never Tom or Julia. If they give you permission to address them by their first names, then you may do so, sparingly. Maintain a very polite and friendly tone, but never assume that you are a close and personal friend. Overly familiar behavior can cause a celebrity to become nervous and guarded. If you encounter a celebrity while performing your job, you should be especially sure to refer to them by the proper address.
- 3. Actors in public are not their characters. Never call an actor by their character's name- that is considered bad form universally. Don't ask them to repeat a popular catchphrase or well-known dialogue. You're not the first one to approach Leonard Nimoy with a Vulcan salute or ask Jerry Seinfeld to say 'Yada, Yada, Yada.' Actors are much more likely to respond to a thoughtful comment on their work or congratulations on an award. The worst thing you can do is berate an actor for their character's actions. Some actors live in fear that an angry fan will attack them for something their character may have done. Separate the actor from the role before approaching them.
- 4. If the occasion is very informal, relax and enjoy the company. Celebrities lead very complicated lives while 'on the job', so vacations are taken very seriously. Many famous people look forward to the opportunity to quit being famous for a short time. If you are fortunate enough to meet a celebrity on vacation, keep the atmosphere light and friendly. Discuss the beautiful weather or that fabulous restaurant in town. Suggest places to see or just grab a few drinks and relax. Don't get caught up in documenting the entire experience- live in the moment with your new friend who happens to live in California. You'll have plenty of time to tell all your friends back home who you met on vacation.
- 5. If you encounter a celebrity while on the job, remember your job. Famous people rely on discretion when spending time in public. If you work at the front desk of the hotel they are staying in, maintain your professional bearing. Never reveal their presence or their room numbers to anyone who does not strictly need to know. The same holds true for the wait staff at a restaurant or the workers at the airport. Being a member of the staff may allow you more access to famous people, but this does not entitle you to violate their privacy. You may still approach them for an autograph or picture, but use even more discretion while performing your duties. Celebrities tend to remember those who provide the best service without compromising their privacy. That is the list you'll want to be on.
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Etiquette When Meeting Celebrities.
In the event you ever have the opportunity to see or meet your favorite actor, in this case, we will use the name Timothy Dalton, and you are dying to run up to him for an autograph, don't. First of all, having someone run after you is very frightening, and second of all, it's just plain rude.
So how do you approach a celebrity to ask for an autograph? Etiquette here is very important. Remember to respect the celebrity's privacy, and to treat them with dignity and respect. Here are some tips which will make the encounter an enjoyable occasion for both of you.
1. Always allow the actor his privacy. Never approach him while he is conducting personal business, i.e., dinning in a restaurant, shopping (particularly if he is with his family), at the movies or theater as part of the audience (see #2 - Movie Premieres and Theater) or in a house of worship. If you see him at any of these places, enjoy the memory of the sighting and the fact you did not cause him any undue stress or embarrassment.
2. Places where it's acceptable to approach your favorite actor:-
- a) Movie premieres - actually you can't "approach" him at a movie premiere, but you can stand in the designated fan area and wait for him to come over to shake hands and sign autographs.
- b) After Theater performances - depending on the theater and the actor, you may be able to obtain an autograph after the play. Check with the box office the night of the performance to see if this will be possible.
- c) Publicity Appearances - actors make different kinds of appearances for public relations and publicity. Normally these are things such as charity events, autograph-signing sessions, film promotions, etc. Find out who the person in charge of the event is, and ask what the protocol will be for obtaining an autograph.
3. Tips on how to make a good impression if/when you meet your favorite actor.
- a) Very important - don't shout. It's human nature to shout or talk
loudly when you are excited, but do your best to refrain yourself.
- b) Be nice and genuine. Address him as Mr. Dalton, not as Timothy. No matter how many times you've seen him in films, you do not personally know him, so do not be overly familiar.
- c) If you are requesting an autograph, have a pen (that works) and something that he can write upon. Do not expect him to produce these items for you. If possible, make sure that the pen will write properly on the paper or photograph you wish him to sign. Test it first.
- d) Don't ask him to autograph a stack of paper or photographs. Limit your request to one or two. He will want to accommodate others who are waiting, so don't monopolize him nor put him in an embarrassing situation.
4. Some final notes. If you happen to be walking down the street (or wherever) and you see your favorite actor, feel free to smile and say "Hi", but do not stop him. If he pauses to acknowledge your greeting, then (and you're going to have to read his body language very well!) it may be acceptable to stop and say something simple and genuine, such as, "I really enjoyed your performance in Ever After. It made me believe in romance all over again", or something along those lines. Avoid gushing comments such as, "My god, you were great in Ever After! I just loved the gypsy camp scene where you kiss Drew!" You get the idea. :-)