One of my absolute favorite memories of my freshman year at NYU is the time when I went with a friend to see The Heidi Chronicles on Broadway. The play itself was spectacular, so of course my friend and I immediately went and waited by the stage door for an opportunity to see and compliment the actors up close, without the veneer of their characters. This particular show happened to feature Elisabeth Moss, best known for her role on “Mad Men,” and a personal favorite of mine. When she emerged from the stage door, she engaged warmly with the line of fans that stood waiting, obligingly chatting with us and even posing for a few pictures. The whole process probably took around five minutes, and when she climbed into a waiting black car and left, all anyone could talk about was how exceptionally thoughtful and kind she was.
New York City, where so many television shows and movies are filmed and so many high-profile and successful people choose to live, is a prime place for meeting with celebrities. When a student arrives on NYU’s campus and begins exploring the city, there is no telling what he or she might see or experience. A routine walk to class can suddenly be interrupted by a “Broad City” filming; a Tuesday evening can be spent listening to Jonathan Franzen discuss his new book. Part of the appeal of the New York City experience is the proximity to so many exciting people and projects.
In fact, one of the hallmark NYU experiences is the chance run-in with a favorite artist or performer. While we must always keep in mind that these individuals are entitled to go about their daily lives free of harassment, I contend that there is nothing wrong with asking for a quick photo or chatting with them for a moment or two. After all, they are public figures, and their livelihoods rest on their fame and recognizability. If engaging with a starstruck fan for a moment or two is all the difficulty an actor endures in exchange for multi-million dollar movie contracts, so be it.
This is not to say that it is always appropriate to approach celebrities in public. Obviously, if they are clearly working or engaged in conversation, to interrupt them would simply be rude. But if you happen to see them strolling down the street or waiting in line for a coffee, there is nothing wrong with going ahead and saying hello. This could be how some of your best memories of the city could be formed.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, October 5 print edition. Email Annie Cohen at [email protected]