Now for something a little different. This is the very true story of how I made one of my biggest dreams come true...in the most convoluted way possible.
You see, I used to have a bit of a young-girl crush on Angelina Jolie. I also used to play Tomb Raider religiously, that was my favorite video game at the time.
So when I heard that Jolie and Tomb Raider were going to be joining forces, it literally was like the Higgs Boson had smashed into my head. My mind was blown and I couldn't function for a few days, paralyzed by excitement.
I decided when the time came, I wanted to be there at the Tomb Raider premiere party, and meet Angelina Jolie. That was my dream. That was what I needed to happen. I didn't know how, but I knew -- no, I believed -- this would happen somehow.
I followed Paramount Studio's activity of the film for months. From pre-production, to production, to post-production. I researched what I could every day. I found all of the locations they were shooting in. I followed the production's every movement, I was on all the message boards and chat rooms.
Until finally, the premiere date was announced. In L.A. At the Mann theater. June 11, 2001.
I felt like throwing up. I had psyched myself up for so long, and now that the time had come, it just felt so out of reach. I was living in Beaverton, Oregon at the time. I had barely made two short videos that a total of 20 people had seen. I was a nobody. I knew nobody. How the hell was I going to make this happen? I threw up again. I slept for a long time.
I woke up. I felt fire. I had to do this. I burnt my fear alive. Then, I started to plan. This was going to happen no matter what. I made a list of people I knew who could help. I asked around.
As it turned out, a friend of a friend worked at Universal. He said this Universal friend was actually going to the premiere himself, and promised me a shiny ticket of my own, just for me! Oh my gosh, how easy was that?? Yes! It's who you know, as they say. And I knew somebody important. Look at me. I made it.
Now after a few weeks of being strung along, I unfortunately found out that this person was trying to impress me, and embellishing for reasons of passion (I don't know how else to delicately say it). There was no ticket waiting for me. There was no reality of me going. I was clearly not putting out, so this was not happening. Well now I had to come up with another plan. I had wasted my time, and now the premiere was two weeks away.
I decided all I needed was a phone number. Now that I knew that they actually had tickets for these events, I wanted to try to get one. Previously, I thought folks were just invited by some royal herald whom announced that a celebrity's attendance was summoned by the kingdom.
I scoured the internet for days, I tried and tried to find a phone number for Paramount. I couldn't even find an area code for me to guess the rest of the seven numbers. Until one day, I stumbled upon this phone number for a catering department in Paramount. OK, now I was getting somewhere.
After perfecting a British accent in my room for 12 hours, I decided to call up this catering department, and pretend I was the British ambassador's wife, trying to reach the Paramount office to get tickets for my daughter's 16th birthday. I have no clue how I came up with that, but there you go. My naive, desperate, fearless little heart thought this could work.
And guess what? It sure did.
An older lady picked up the phone on the other end, and once I started speaking in my Mary Poppin's gibberish, she immediately first welcomed me to the country (even though ambassadors actually live here), then she said I had sadly reached the wrong department, and that I needed to contact this other Paramount office that could help.
Lady: "Hold on ma'am, I'll get that number for you right away."
Me: "Oh Wondehfool, thank yoo! And may I ask how the festivity planning is coming along?"
Lady: "Oh great ma'am, everything is great."
And just like that, I now had in my possession the magic number to call. If you're reading this, Catering Lady, I want to say thank you profusely for being so gracious and generous -- and for catering an amazing party.
I took a deep breath and wasted no time in calling the number right away. I figured I'd come up with something to say as soon someone answered.
Receptionist: "Paramount, this is Dan."
Me: "Oh hi! Yes, um...well I was just wondering-"
What the heck?? Really? Why did you just hang up on me, you little prick? Don't you know I have a premiere to go to? I called again.
Receptionist: "Paramount, this is Dan."
Me: "Hi, I'm calling about the Tomb Raider premiere."
Me: "Well I thought maybe I could get --"
Wow. This guy was like freakin' King Koopa from Mario Bros, how the hell was I supposed to pass him? What was the secret?
The premiere was now one measly week away. I couldn't believe how close I was. I had the number in my hand. I just had to figure out a way to get past this ogre of a specimen to get my ticket. It's as if he smelt fear. Like he could detect hesitation.
OK. Next time I call, I will be confident. I will be big. I will be arrogant even. Where you at with my ticket, a-hole? Yeah, that's what I was going to do.
No answer. Not even an answering machine. I was doomed. Why was this happening to me? I cried. Yes, I cried. I was really that heartbroken. Everything was dark. Everything came crashing down. It hit me that the premiere that was happening in a few days, would be happening without me. I wasn't going to watch the Tomb Raider premiere with the cast and crew. I wasn't going to the after party. And I wasn't going to meet Angelina Jolie.
I woke up (as I had managed to cry myself to sleep). It was morning again. I will try again. I will try and try until the last day I can try. Until the premiere has come and gone, and until I read in the papers what a horribly boring party it was without me. I will keep trying.
I looked at myself in the mirror and started growling and roaring. My parents, no doubt, thought I had completely lost it. I shouted and stomped around. I am not afraid. I will not hesitate. I will have no fear. I pounded my fingers on the phone buttons and dialed the perfidious number. King Koopa Dan, you will be mine. I will crush you, and this video game will be over. I will win.
Receptionist: "Paramount, this is Chuck."
Me: "Dan, I want a Tomb Raider premiere ticket, now!!"
Receptionist: "Oh, sorry ma'am, this is Chuck, Dan is out."
Me: "Chuck, I want a Tomb Raider premiere ticket now! Make it happen!"
Receptionist: "Yes ma'am, may I transfer you?"
Me: "Fine, but if I'm waiting any longer than a minute I'm hanging up this phone, you hear me?"
Receptionist: "Yes ma'am, yes."
Receptionist #2: "Hi ma'am, I understand you want tickets to the Tomb Raider premiere and reception this weekend?"
Me: "Yes, I do, I keep getting bounced around and I'm sick of it!"
Receiptionst #2: "Don't worry, how many tickets do you need?"
(wait what? how many tickets do I need? Did I just freakin' do what I thought I did??)
(I decided on the spot to take my brother).
Receptionist #2: "No problem."
It happened. That really happened. I stood there in my room. Speechless. My knees gave way, and I sat on my floor for hours with my mouth open until my mom found me. No one believed I could do it. Not even me at times. But I did it.
I booked a flight to L.A. It was a great premiere, and a great party. I saw Michelle Rodriquez there in these fuzzy boot things, looking a bit inebriated, but having a good time. Joey from Friends was there with his whiskey and beard. Jessica Alba was there. I met the wife of the person who scored the movie in the theater bathroom. Even Missy Elliot was there (she provided some tracks for the film as you recall.)
My brother and I had a blast. We ate great food. I pretended for a few hours that I deserved to be there. Like I earned my place in the industry.
Then, after about two hours into the party. She walked in. Angelina Jolie walked in.
And even though the place was filled with industry folks who you think would be able to contain themselves, they couldn't. The whole swarm of about 200 people descended upon her. Everyone wanted a piece of her, it was insane. I have never seen anything like it.
I stood by. I was afraid to be trampled or killed. This was quickly turning into a black Friday Walmart affair. I held onto a palm tree heat lamp as I cranked my neck, trying to see past the ocean of people. Then I noticed the ocean was moving towards me. Oh no! I held my ground, and closed my eyes as the people came rushing my way. There was pushing and shoving and commotion everywhere.
Then I opened my eyes. Angelina Jolie was right in front of me. Right there. Inches away. I tried to move my hand, but couldn't because, well...her hand was right on top of mine, hanging onto the palm tree heat lamp. She looked at me. I barely mouthed a 'hi'. She smiled and nodded in slow motion, with the grace and smoothness of a breeze, sporting badass tattoos and leather pants. And that was that.
I had completed the video game. I achieved what my heart set out to do. And if I could do this, I told myself, I could do anything. So it was on to the next.
To achieve anything great, one has to be obsessed, persistent, fearless, and believe in a little bit of magic, and you too can beat your kingdom.
And if you're reading this Angelina Jolie, I'm not sure if you remember that night at all, but it would be a pleasure to meet you in person again. I promise not to fake a British accent this time.