Two weeks ago, I headed to California to officially use my Prilosec OTC® award to attend the first ever Reality Rocks Expo that highlights and captures the world of reality television at its core. Flying out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Thursday, April 7th was more than a birthday wish– it was an adventure like no other and I learned a great deal about who I am and what I can do for others.
I met a woman on the plane and we hit the talk button for three hours. I simply soaked up her life like a sponge and truly appreciated every moment. I picked up on her personality and wisdom through her lived facial expressions and bubbly word choices. I knew that made a connnection.
She had told me her memoir and it conveyed a message of hope. Hope in that people are social creatures. As humans we attach to one another regardless of our struggles, because we can not do stuff alone when times are simply rough. I remember while attending private school, that my mother told me that basically “people need other people” and I then appreciated her wisdom, but meeting this complete stranger was uplifting and gave me the hope that even this age of technology does not keep all people from talking to one another. But it allows for people to become aware of other stories and lives, we did officially declare ourselves Facebook friends as we hugged one another and departed ways in Dallas with smiles on our faces like we just gave each other a million dollars.
The plane ride was the most rewarding human experience and for it to happen on my 20th birthday says a lot. I am a big person on life’s pleasures. But simply knowing of coincidences or miracles, meeting people can spark a life in us that we were not already aware of.
At the Reality Rocks Expo which opened on April 9th and resumed on April 10th, I met quite a bit of people in all areas of the entertainment bubble. From casting agents to celebrity news writers, each person that I shook hands with or exchanged business cards, it reflected a sense of pride and courage to be in a room filled with common interests and goals.
As I entered the ballroom plotted with photo-booths and sign up tables, I began to feel a rush and then came a man that was carrying a lot more than a brown leather side bag stuffed to the seams. Instead of sprinting over to Access Hollywood, I stopped and a connection was formed. Giacomo Knox, 38 year old freelance producer seemed to be on the tip of his toes because he has a dream and no one seems to notice it. Knox created a web docu-series reality show based on his reunion with his father whom had not seen for 33 years. When he talked about A Week With My Father, I saw the light in his eyes and felt the familiar rush radiate from his body as I too experience with becoming a television talk show host. I was amazed to talk to someone who already made his dream into a reality by creating his idea into a show and it inspires me to do the same, however, it is obvious he is hungry and there at the expo for a better meal instead of being served a microwaveable dinner.
Our chat lasted about 15 minutes and we exchanged cards and we departed. I walked around the room until my first workshop panel discussion with the “Queen of Hosting” and founder of BecomeAHost.com, Marki Costello. My enthusiasm meandered through the pockets of people and I stopped by at multiple tables like Authentic Entertainment, BecomeAHost.com, and American Auctioneers. Yet another lasting connection was formed with Cyndi Targosz, a celebrity life coach and author. Targosz is creating a new reality show dealing with the real concerns that are the shadow for many celebrities. I spoke with her agent about her idea and later during the day I came back to actually meet the socialite.
I attended three workshops at the expo and my first was the fiercest reality check and of course Marki Costello’s quick and powerful forefront-personality bombarded the room with such weight that I wanted to make myself known the moment I entered the arena. I wanted to impress the panelists of who I am and what I stand for.
Lessons I took from this workshop:
- Brand Yourself— What makes you tick
- Mass Appeal— What multiple areas can you tackle and make money from
- Do your research— Know what they have done and if you match their style
She called me out as “Red.”
I know it might seem simple and not important, but I did color my hair for a reason. I wanted to steal the attention from people with it and make myself memorable. I had done so, but that workshop tasered a shock in me and now thinking of getting representation just makes me sizzle in my seat. Yet, the remaining workshops seemed reasonable and quite unlike the first panel discussion, and I simply sat with admiration to even be in a room with all the fans and professionals of reality television.
After all my assigned workshops were finished I went back down to the expo and experienced the rest of the booths I missed or wanted to drop by again to reinstall my presence. Soon, hours passed and I needed to get back to my hotel to change for the Reality Rocks awards show. I got back to my room and unloaded my bag (which Cyndi Targosz gave to me since she noticed how much stuff I was accumulating) of goodies and the wave of excitement to have all these business cards and memorabilia was like Christmas morning, but in April! The awards ceremony was interesting. I was admitted as a general person so I was not on the red carpet or even close to the cameras, but reality stars like Bruce Jenner from Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Tom Bergeron host for Dancing with the Stars did pass in front of me to the carpet, so being in the background of the limelight was thrilling somewhat.
My weekend theme of making connections continued as Jillian Harris, former ABC Bachelorette and current cast member for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, spotted my eager self waiting for the show and she simply asked how I was. Earlier that day, we both spoke about the impact that the show has and what it means for her to be apart of something so enthralling. The conversation was casual and very uplifting and for her to remember me, I was rolling on the floor inside my mind, but smiled back and replied with a confident “Fantastic!”
Unlike many fans, I carry myself pretty prestigiously and careful when it comes to the world of celebrities because they are bombarded with overly excited fan-drama and I do not want to stunt my reputation when it comes connecting with these celebrities because they are regular people too, doing their job. So many ask me why I don’t talk to the famous people I come close to or why I don’t get pictures. Well, for the reason that there is more to them just their looks and their status and I want to work with them in the future so I can’t be on top of my game if I am drooling from the mouth and screeching their name every time they walk through the door. No, I have composure and respect.
The awards ceremony was delightful and I did cry when certain clips like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition did broadcast, I just realized that this expo is the start of an amazing future and I can’t wait to get involved for years to come.
Overall, the journey that I took going to Los Angeles with my sponsorship from Prilosec OTC® as their Official TV Host wass gathering resources, knowledge, and connections that will enable me to be the very best that I can be. After-all, the one pertinent job of any talk show host as a journalist or as an artist is to tell the human story.