I've been living in LA now for about 3 1/2 years now - the new car smell has officially left the building. As you may know, I moved to LA to become a writer, and years later, I'm pursuing it part time (I have a kid and I need health insurance). In my quest to make it, I've written for a couple of websites, and with being a contributor comes the responsibility of covering celebrity events on occasion. Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of "celebrity" I think of Beyoncé. And as far as I'm concerned, if you're not remotely close to Beyoncé’s status, you're not a celebrity. Apparently, LA and I don't agree. Everyone and their momma are freaking celebrities here. If you've ever had a viral one-liner on any given reality television show, or if you happen to be a pretty girl who's friends with another pretty girl eff'n the hottest rapper - you're a celebrity. And last, but certainly not least, if you own an Instagram boutique, you're a freaking celebrity here (I'll have to rant about this some other time).
Needless to say, since everyone is a celebrity, there is always some event to attend, or something to raise money for. I used to frequent the scene way more than I do now, and for good reason.
This past summer, I attended an awards brunching for a famous DJ. The red carpet - as always - was filled with a ton of people whom I'm sure you'd never heard of in your life. That's no shade. I'm all for getting to know new artists on the scene as long as they're interesting and have a legitimate story to tell. Yes, legitimate. Anywho, back to the carpet. So, I'm on the carpet, right, with a camerawoman shooting the celebs as I'm making small talk with the attendees in hopes of coming across someone interesting enough to have a 1-on-1 with. A group of, maybe, 4-5 sisters comes up, and I'm automatically taken aback by their features. Gorgeous women. I mean, gorgeous. Voluptuous bodies, laid weaves and beat faces - all of them. I approach them as they leave the carpet -
Me: "Hi ladies! You all are REALLY pretty."
Them (in unison): "Thank you."
Me: "So, tell me a little bit about yourselves! Are you a singing group?"
Them: *looking at the youngest one, as if she were the spokesperson of the group*
Youngest one: "No. We're sisters."
Me: *stale face*
The youngest one again: "We have a reality tv show coming out on *insert black network here* soon called 'The *insert family name here*.'"
Talk about being disappointed. I swear it burns me up when really pretty women are only "famous" for being really pretty - or for being, simply, "sisters." Again, no shade. I just would like, for once, to meet beautiful women of color who are known for more than what their body looks like, or how many Instagram followers they have. The *insert family name here* are really pretty, but every family can't be the Kardashians.
Fast forward to present time, and I've kind of taken a back seat when it comes to covering celebrity events. It became exhausting - everyone's doing the same thing: clothing line, hair line, reality tv show - I was over it. Not to mention, half of the eye candy lack personalities. I can't tell you how many awkward instances I have had with industry men. Looking good, smelling good, but they sound like 10-year-old children as soon as they open their mouths. It's disheartening.
I got a text from a friend asking if I wanted to cover a magazine launch for a hip-hop mag, or so we thought. You know that's a no-brainer for me, so I confirmed. The folks set to host the event were a little questionable to me, but I was still enthused nonetheless. I show up to the event a little early - it was in Beverly Hills, and my full time gig was 5 mi away in Westwood. I walk into the restaurant as they're just finishing setting up. Scoped out the scene. Used the restroom. Got a good place on the red carpet to get some quick photos and to make sure I'm in a good enough eye shot of the celebs to get some quotes. I also must point out that I honestly expected more from this particular event. Of course, I expected to run into a few Instagram thots, but I ultimately wanted to mingle with some hip-hop heavy hitters.
An hour after my arrival, the red carpet received its first few guests. Awesome people; real actresses, real hip hop industry folks, and hip hop enthusiasts. The typical reality stars were in attendance too, but all are ones that I would actually consider myself to be a fan of.
My first red flag raised when not one guest on the carpet could tell me what they were there for... Like, they knew they were there for the hip-hop magazine, but everyone just called it a "celebration." I guess it was just a case of no one wanting to admit that they didn't know what was going on.
Second red flag: reality show production staff having the photographers on the carpet stage paparazzi flashes. Let me explain. The cameraman of the reality tv show asked the real-life photographers on the carpet to take a ton of pictures of his camera with their flashes on. This fostered a bad taste in my mouth, so I left the carpet to check out the scene indoors immediately following.
I hate a pumpfaker - stop trying to make the audience you're filming for believe that this event was more poppin than it actually was, sir.
I wanted no parts.
Next red flag: I watched the said hosts film the same scene for their reality tv show more than twice. Not to sound gullible, but before this particular night, I honestly believed that reality tv was a little bit more... Well, real.
Red flags numbers 777, 798, 799 and 800: The restaurant where the event was taking place was still open to actual customers (I.e. Not just folks there for the "celebration", but rather for those random peeps wanting a bite to eat. They could just walk right in, and the hostesses would seat them), the bar was a cash bar (events usually have open bars, or at least free cocktails until a certain time) and the DJ was only on stage for all of 10-15 minutes, and while on stage, didn't play a lick of music. Lastly, when I asked one of the hosts and owner of the hip-hop mag if I could interview them quickly, they told me "no" because they "weren't working." This is when I discovered that I wasn't here to cover a magazine launch of any kind, but rather to be another stand-in for their tragic docu-series. You know, to make it seem as though everyone in attendance were there for the "celebration" - when really we were all hoodwinked. Nothing was being celebrated. You need more people.
I did, however, have the pleasure of chatting it up with a really cool actor - the dopest part of the night. Surprisingly to me, he was the first person I'd talk to that evening who admitted to not knowing what he was there for, but was never the type to turn down a free party. I think we were 2 of maybe 5 normal people in the entire restaurant, besides the actual customers.
I was reminded by one of the lovely restaurant hostesses to grab a "swag bag" on my way out. I love free stuff, so of course, I took one. What was in it, you ask? Not a watch, not even free movie tickets or a bottle of water. My bag was full of cigarillos. Yes, rellos – for all of my smokers out there. Oh, and a lanyard. And in case you're wondering, no, I didn't throw them out yet. So, if you want them, hit me up via my contact form in the navigation bar. I'll send them to you free of charge.
I'm not writing this to bash anyone in particular. I just felt compelled to let you guys know how trippy this "industry" really is. It's not as grand or luxurious as it appears to be on your tv screen. It's all smoke, mirrors and staged paparazzi flashes.
As far as I'm concerned, Black Hollywood is becoming over saturated with too many wannabes. Celebreality is too accessible. Be a guest on someone's reality show, get a few viral one-liners in and you're a standing cast member the next season. No real talent needed. The more ratchet you are, the more screen time you get and the more social media attention you acquire - that's the magic formula in case any of you were wondering. How do I know, you ask? Years of research. That's how. But it will cost you your soul, first born and reputation.
Pure T. Rash.
No more Black Hollywood events for me. And I mean it this time.