I am the biggest dork in the world.
People don’t believe me when I say I’m socially awkward, but that’s only because they didn’t witness what happened the other night.
Let me back up.
Several months ago, I was sent to a press lunch with Seth Meyers ahead of the Emmy nominations. At that event, I got to chatting with one of the PR reps about what’s good on TV. (Besides Seth Meyers, of course.)
Seeing as the event was hosted by NBC, the conversation naturally turned to this little show you *might* have heard about: “This Is Us.”
We both love it, basically, so I sat there chatting with this PR rep about what an great show it is and she said she would be a fan even if she wasn’t repping it and OF COURSE SHE WOULD BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING!
There were a couple of attempts to line up cast interviews, but so many interview requests never end up going anywhere, and I wasn’t that surprised because it’s only one of the biggest shows on television right now.
Fast forward to last week.
I received an email from a different PR rep from the same team. He invited me to attend the season 2 premiere. Of “This Is Us.” The biggest show on broadcast television right now.
The one that was just nominated for 11 Emmys. Okay, fine, 10 because they were disqualified in a costume category. But they received 7 nominations for acting alone.
So…yeah, that show.
Of course I said, “Yes, please.”
And that was how I found myself on Tuesday evening at the premiere for the second season of one of the best shows NBC has had in YEARS.
They showed the first episode, and followed that up with a moderated Q&A with the cast. Yeah. The cast. Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Sterling K. Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Sullivan. And creator Dan Fogelman.
They were all there.
And the Q&A was fun and funny and great.
But the real fun started when we went next door for the reception.
Yup, I was partying with the cast of “This Is Us.”
The place was crowded, so I figured actually getting to talk to anyone was going to be next to impossible. But I was determined.
And that paid off when I first got to say hello to Susan Kelechi Watson, who plays Randall’s wife Beth. I told her how much I adore Beth and that she has quietly become one of my very favorite parts of the show. She graciously thanked me. She could not have been sweeter.
From there, I spotted Justin Hartley and Mandy Moore. I waited a few minutes while they were chatting with some other people. Mandy suddenly got pulled away, so I just said a quick hello, but I did chat with Justin for a few minutes. It was kind of awkward. Partly because it was loud, and also because there were two other (much cuter) girls waiting to actually interview him. So I ended the conversation and thanked him for his time.
Then I found him.
The one person I wanted to see more than anyone else that night besides Tom Cruise.
The two-time Emmy winning star of “The People v. OJ Simpson” and “This Is Us” and soon to be seen in a million major motion pictures. Sterling K. Brown.
He is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.
Which is why it’s even more embarrassing that I was a dorky, gushing, starstruck fangirl instead of a professional film and television journalist.
I can’t even with myself.
He was standing all the way in the corner of this restaurant, finishing up a conversation. Someone asked me, “Are you waiting to talk to Sterling?” I said yes. He said, “I don’t blame you!”
He finished that conversation and then he and his assistant (who was also just as nice as could be) were trying to coordinate getting Mrs. Brown the correct address so that she could join the party.
He stuck out a hand and said, “Hi, I’m Sterling Brown.”
I froze for just the tiniest of moments, shook his impossibly soft hand that made mine feel like I’ve been digging housing foundations without tools or gloves, and said, “Hi, I’m Karen Peterson.”
Then I told him a quick story that Clayton had asked me to tell him in case I got to find myself exactly where I was. It was about when Clayton met him last year ahead of the Golden Globes. I was in the middle of telling the story when his phone rang. He said, “I’m SO sorry, but I HAVE to take this. It’s my wife. It’ll just be one minute, I promise.”
I was like, “Um, duh, OF COURSE you need to take a call from your wife.” So I patiently waited and laughed a bit while they all tried to figure out where they were so that they could tell her.
He finished the chat and turned back to me. “You now have all of my attention,” he said. And then he added, “It’s so nice to meet you.”
Yeah, I was literally dead in that moment. And I literally hate when people use literally wrong but it has never felt more appropriate.
I went on to tell him how much I LOVED his work as Christopher Darden in “The People v. OJ Simpson.” He seemed kind of surprised that that was the first thing I commented on, but he just smiled this giant, glorious smile and thanked me. And I congratulated him on his awards and mentioned some of the upcoming movies he’s got. I said, “You know Oscar’s next, right?”
He laughed at that.
Oh, and he hugged me.
Like, twice. He asked permission to hug me.
If I hadn’t already been literally dead, I would have died in the next moment when he then kissed me on the cheek.
While that was happening, I caught eyes with his assistant and mouthed, “How is this happening??”
So then she jumped in and said, “Would you like a picture? I’d be happy to take one.” I don’t like to intrude on celebrities like that, so I asked if he minded and he just said, “Of course not! Please!” Then he threw an arm around me and we took that picture. And I was a puddle of happiness on the floor.
I finished gushing over how much I love his work. Somehow, I managed to not actually say out loud, “I LOVE YOU!” But I think I told him at least four times that I was glad I got the chance to congratulate him in person.
Yup. I am so calm, cool, and collected.
And then I thanked him for his time and said I was going to try to say hi to Chrissy on the way out. He said, “You tell Chrissy I say ‘whassup!'”
On the way to Chrissy, I ran into Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby on the show. He also appeared in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.”
I asked him, “Are you tired of being called Taserface yet?”
He laughed, “No way! Bring it on! I love it!”
And then Chrissy. She was just the nicest, sweetest thing. We chatted for a few minutes, and I felt so much more calm with her. Like, I think we would be friends if we just knew each other in “real life.”
It was such a fun night.
But yeah…I’m the biggest dork.
And it confirmed in my mind something I have believed for a very long time.
If I ever meet Tom Cruise, I will almost definitely pass out.