SOOOOOOOO ... crashing things is a bit of my MO. Seriously, "where there is a will there is ALWAYS a way" has been proven to be ABSOLUTELY true, as is evident from crashing the 53rd annual Grammy Awards. For reals, have you seen @petecashmore???
Um yeah. Being there just had to happen, I had to meet Pete. My "Daily Tweets to Pete" were getting a bit old at that point. However, thank you again Pete - glad that you read them, and surprisingly have yet to file a restraining order. AMAZING!
K, cool beans. So when I was 17 I moved to NYC. I got accepted into the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in NYC, so the parentals were gracious and supportive enough to help out with an apartment in Manhattan literally 1 minute from the school door to door. Insane too, at 17 I literally hadn't even been drunk yet - and I had a Victorias Secret supermodel in my class!!! We hung out a couple of times (Carmen Kass - she's INCRREEEDDIBBLLLLYYY sweet, from Estonia, and once drank perfume to try and get drunk as a wee lass. True story), and I went to all these wild parties, but it was all pretty meh. I was INCREDIBLY focused on my classes, and worked my little fanny off. Dude, sense memory exercises are NO joke! Can't BS your way through those.
Well, I didn't know anyone in NY outside of school, except this one dude that I remember speaking at my acting class in 10th grade. His name was Michael Schur. Mike at the time had done some writing for Jon Stewart, but was currently writing over at 30 Rockefeller plaza for Saturday Night Live. Dude, SNL? I need an in! Plus too, when Mike spoke to our class he was straight up one of the nicest human beings on this planet. Really really really nice guy. Mind you, this was pre social media, so yeah I knew his name ... but if I sent him an email at that point it would have felt a bit stalkerish. People were weird when it came to these things in 2001. My oh my what 10 years has done!
I called my friend from school Dara and asked her if she wanted to come with me, that I was going to try to crash a taping of SNL. She's like you're bat shit, no way. I said, well if not the taping - why not the after party? It's a live show! We know what time it films, and what time it ends ... can't be that hard?
Popped on a subway, headed uptown, and walked into 30 Rockefeller plaza. Don't get too excited, anyone from the street can walk in - that part wasn't hard. We wandered around a bit, and found the back where all of the town cars were lined up, and saw this important looking chickadee standing by the door. I told her my cell had died and we were trying to meet some of our friends for the after party, did she know where it was? She smiled (again, I'm like the most non-threatening looking person in the world), said of course, it was over at the Heartland Brewery (MMMMM HEARTLAND BREWERY!!!! Dude, that place is the tits! Straight up d cup!). Then her phone rang juuuusssssttttt as I was about to ask which one.
Alrite, Heartland Brewery I thought - we got that, let's just ask the limo drivers which one! Can't hurt! Went back over to the town cars, and asked the very first dude - he goes, oh yah! Right around the corner ... I think it was like 47th street. Don't quote me. Brilliant!!! AWAY WE WENT!!!!
Started walking, it was very literally around the corner. Get there, and there's a rope with a red carpet, and lots of important looking people standing there with clipboards. Fuck, I thought. There's no way we can get in ... look at those important looking people with clipboards!!!
Yeah, not gonna happen.
We surveyed the situation for a moment, then I saw this woman walk up - and she had the most BEAAUUUTTIIIIIFFUUUULLLLLLLL pashmina on. Like seriously, it was this lavendar type pink color - omg, breathtaking. No joke, I was literally in awe of the color - truly stunning. Me being me, and having no filter - I just started genuinely saying to her that I loved her pashmina, where did she get it? She was COMPLETELY flattered and excited because she had just gotten it for the party ... she kept talking, and talking, and walking and walking, all of the sudden she's still telling me about this pashmina while saying her name to the important looking person with the clipboard and BAM just like that, I'm in the party. HAHAHAHA!! Omg it was so easy. Like so so easy. Again, I looked the part - I looked like I belong, I acted like I belonged - and I very genuinely was just having this conversation with this woman who just so happened to be moving like a NY minute and didn't stop to speak when someone spoke to her. HAHAA YAY LIFE!!!!
I get inside the party, but I wasn't about to bail on my friend. I sent her a text saying to give me 5 and I'll come and get her. I grabbed a drink at the bar (also equally amazing since I am 17 ... shhh don't tell anyone), came back out and asked the important looking person with the clipboard if she could please let my friend in from outside. The important looking person with the clipboard didn't even think to ask for my name, since I was already inside and I had a drink - so BAM just like that, I got my friend in.
Sure, hob nobbing with the stars is rad, right? But I came to meet Michael Schur! Where is he? Well, we were a tad early and even though the party was already popping off at that point, the show hadn't ended. No worries, I couldn't honestly believe what the fuck we had done to begin with, haha, so Dara and I went downstairs to the restroom to freshen up a bit.
She went into the actual restroom, while I just put on some makeup. Who walks out of one of the stalls? None other than Ms. Felicity herself Keri Russell. Kid you not. She washes her hand and puts on makeup - and she is very literally one of the most beautiful people that I have ever seen. Like seriously, I never thought she was that much to write home about prior, but IRL you take one look at this chick, and holy mother of a goat in a coat taking a toke while laughing at a joke, she is stunning. I remember she put on some fancy pants looking lip gloss and then left right as Dara was coming out of the restroom as well. Dara walks over to me as she's washing her hands, and I looked at her as I was putting on my own lip gloss and said "it'll never be enough." *tear tear* OMMMGGGG that woman is fucking BEAUTIFUL!
Left the restroom, walked up the stairs and some of the cast had already started to filter in. The show must have just ended!! YAYYY!!! I grab Dara's arm, and start looking at the people. Dude, I have a very freaky eye when it comes to spotting people. Like seriously, I am a FREAK of nature when it comes to not only placing people, but then being able to recall where I knew them from. I never forget a face - like ever, at all. Walked through a few tables and then BAMMMMMMMMM!!!! I see Mike! He's talking to Seth Meyers. Perfect, I thought! Seth was doing this funny thing with Jimmy Fallon called Top of the Mornin' To You! Pretty funny stuff.
Either way, a few seconds of us standing there, there was a break in the conversation and I reached out my hand to introduce myself to Mike - I said hey! My names Jen Friel, we both went to Hall High School, and you actually just spoke at my class two years back and I just wanted to say thank you, I found what you said to be incredibly informative. No joke, the dude basically said, work the hustle - and you can do anything you want in this town. He was floored - he goes, wait ... how are you in here? I said, oh, don't tell anyone - but your security isn't that great, and I'm a pretty determined person. He LAUUGGHHHSSSSSS with Seth, and gives me the biggest high five. He's like you're nuts! I said, I KNOW! But it totally WORKED!!!
Mike is seriously one of the nicest dudes on the planet. He totally didn't call me out for crashing in fact, we totally kicked it that night - and it was hands down my favorite NY moment. The cast was great, Jennifer Garner hosted that evening, at the time she was married to Scott Foley so that's why Ms. Keri Russell was there. It was such a GREAT NIGHTTTT!!! Come to find out too, Mike's and my mom worked together back in the day at Cigna in Hartford - crazy weird small world.
Mike is currently the EP on Parks and Recreation, and is now a happily married duderino to none other than Regis Philbin's daughter Jennifer, who used to write for the OC, and the couple even have a wee one of their own, a little girl, born last summer.
Aww congrats guys!!!
But seriously ... got a party or an event you want to crash? Use your nerdy noggin. I didn't plan a single moment of that evening, just took every single card that was dealt to me, and played it accordingly.
1. Look the part.
2. Have the confidence.
3. Act when you feel it is necessary.
I didn't know that saying I liked that woman's pashmina was going to get me in, I just very genuinely liked it and struck up a conversation talking about it anyway. By looking the part however, no one questioned me, and even if they had - I had the confidence in what I was doing that would have carried me through anything.
oh and DUDE! Heard the good news on Parks and Rec on Twitter! AMAZING!! CONGRATS!!