When USA Today asked me to cover I Heart Radio, my immediate response was, “Absolutely!”
But the high and excitement associated with this new found adventure was almost immediately followed by worry and dread. I’d never worked a red carpet event before. What if I didn’t ask the right questions? Would I get star struck in the presence of my favorite celebrities?
Suddenly the ways in which this could go wrong were very apparent. And as the event drew closer, the nightmares grew vivid. I’d show up in a dress that would rip, or suddenly while talking with Katy Perry I’d forget how to speak English.
Luckily for me, USA Today was sending their resident music expert, Brian Mansfield, to cover I Heart with me. He’d been with USA Today since 1997 and was the first person Taylor Swift followed on Twitter. You know, NBD (right).
So naturally, I arrived the first night terrified. Mansfield was a music reporting legend, a jedi of journalism. What would he think of the pageant queen blogger recently brought on to cover Las Vegas stories? I mean, would I even take myself seriously with a background like that?
I met Mansfield outside the press check-in. As it turns out, I had little to worry about.
Quite possibly the nicest guy ever, Mansfield has some incredible stories with every musician from Brian Wilson to Taylor Swift and The Band Perry. Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars had even picked out the pants he was wearing. I offered to be his assistant in Nashville whenever he needed.
He’d never been to I Heart Radio before either. “I was going to follow your lead on this one, since you’re from Vegas.”
I had to laugh at the situation. My plan was to follow his lead all weekend. At least we thought alike.
We loaded into the press room and used the few remaining minutes before the doors opened to get situated on social media.
Seven o’clock hit. And I stared down the entrance with anticipation, like a puppy waiting for her owner to come home.
Two hours later, not one person had stepped foot in our press room. The concert was in full swing and we’d seen NO ONE.
I started to panic. How was I supposed to make a video when I had no one to report on? Brian emphasized patience. “There will be two minutes worth of content.”
And as if by his decree, I got my first interview with Courtney Bingham, Nikki Sixx’s fiancée. I tried not to shake in my heels as Brian and the others watched me ask her questions. But she was incredibly sweet and my dress didn’t rip, so dream crisis averted.
Presenters and musicians started trickling in. Ryan Seacrest would be my second interview. I couldn’t get over how well he articulated his thoughts. I really just wanted to pull him aside for a quick Q&A about being a host, but the wranglers were already moving him along. I asked my two questions and thanked him for his time.
I watched the other hostesses and how quick they were on their feet. I tried to remind myself that the ease would come with practice. They were just so good. So confident. And I felt so green.
But then again, two years ago you wouldn’t have been able to CONVINCE me I’d be in the underbellies of the MGM Grand Garden Arena (wearing a tiara no less) waiting to interview Steve Harvey. So I guess this wasn’t a bad place to start learning, was it? And arguably, I had one of the country’s best journalists to observe and learn from.
Mansfield left the press room to go watch the concert. I stayed on the red carpet, planting my heels a little firmer. I’d lived in a village in Fiji. I could talk to stars for five minutes.
So I started having fun. And wouldn’t you know it, when the panic left and I enjoyed the experience, even the artists were more willing to stay and chat with me.
Of course, it certainly didn’t hurt that my editor was happy with my first submissions in her follow-up emails the next morning.
But I guess that’s the key, isn’t it? Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, do it with exuberance and excitement. Because it may just be that there’s a great opportunity waiting for you. And this may be the time to trust someone else’s view of your capabilities and leap.
After all, with a little enthusiasm and the right mentor, isn’t almost anything possible?