Being a Professional Fangirl

I’ve noticed that a lot of our initial guests (like Kelsie) have had their passions in fandom and their professional lives collide, and they’ve been able to weave and use their identities as fans to strengthen their bosslady pursuits! Since we only have our guests for a precious finite amount of minutes, I wanted to take some time to share how my career in the entertainment industry has intersected with being a fangirl, and the savvy I’ve gained that I can share with all of you.

 

I have always been the type to get starstruck and over excited. I’m basically the Kristen Wiig character “Surprised Sue” from Saturday Night Live at all times. As you can imagine that doesn’t really mesh with the office environment. The best experiences I’ve had in these situations of have come from blending Rule 1 and 8 of Fangirling Like a Pro:

 

Rule #1 (Hide your crazy) is fairly obvious, as most offices probably won’t let screams and frantic pleas for a selfie fly. Given that your fave is most likely there for the same reason as you are (to work) keeping your composure and staying in work mode goes a long way in earning the respect of your fave. In these situations I strive to be seen as a peer and not just a fan.

 

When it’s proving difficult to save your squees for the drive home, I’ve found that g-chatting with a likeminded co-worker to let out some excitement helps. When I met my childhood hero on my second day interning for his company, typing an email to my mom that included a lot of caps lock and exclamation points helped me keep cool.

 

Hiding your crazy is one thing, but when meeting your faves, we fangirls want to make the most of that opportunity, to tell them how much they and their work mean to us. This is where Rule #8 (Talk about their achievements as an artist and the more obscure a project you reference, the better) comes in. I’ve learned that to make your interaction with them more meaningful, mention that you love another project of theirs that is lesser known. It tends to impress them since you’ve taken the time to explore their body of work. And if you really love what they’re known for, there’s nothing wrong with that! But instead of just saying “I love you as this character in this project” if you are able reference something specific about their performance and comment intelligently about it, that goes a long way too.

 

 

Okay Tori, you talk a good game, you might be thinking, but when have you had the rubber hit the road? A couple experiences come to mind:

 

My first year in Los Angeles I got a job as a researcher for an arts programming network, where I had to find people, places, and events to feature in a few of their programs. One episode was centered around music, and my producer mentioned featuring a musical parody group that wrote their own music. Instantly, Team Starkid and their viral Harry Potter parody musicals came to mind. I pitched it it my producer, sending her more information on the group. She said to go ahead and reach out.

 

Gulp.

 

Luckily, I had a great cold email template to work with, I was able to articulate how we appreciated the musicals humor and original compositions, while leaving out my ginormous crush on Darren Criss. Their manager responded to me warmly, ruminating on how she could make schedules work. I remember giggling in my cubicle in disbelief that me, a simple fangirl, was being taken seriously by the performers themselves! Though the schedules ultimately didn’t work out, it was an eye-opening experience for me – I never thought anyone would take my obsessions seriously in a professional environment. Calibrating my enthusiasm and leading with the encyclopedic knowledge that fangirls possess served me professionally and personally in a way I always fantasized about, but never thought possible.

Let’s fast-forward to my current job, an executive assistant to a director/producer, who’s made many beloved films, grossing over a billion dollars. There’s one movie in particular of his that my dad, sister and I bonded over growing up. I breezed through the first round of my interview with a junior executive and the other assistants at the company. Then they wanted me to interview with the big guy.

 

Gulp.

 

The first thing he said to me when he welcomed me into his office was “You don’t have the be nervous.”

 

GULP!!!!!

 

I honestly thought I had thrown my shot at that point and I didn’t feel like the interview got much better from there. I was so angry at myself for letting my nerves and fangirling get the best of me, and compromising my ability to clearly articulate what I could bring to the position. I had put my him on too high a pedestal, made him too big of a deal, how was I supposed to work with him everyday if I was constantly psyched out? Then a week after my interview, I got a call saying that he had loved me and wanted to speak with me again. I sat down for what I thought was going to be another interview – smarter, wiser, and more collected – but then he offered me the job. At that point, I think I went into shock, so much so, that on my way of out his office my boss asked “Are you excited about the position?” I quickly and emphatically ensured him that I was, and shared how much his films meant to me and my dad.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still navigating the balance between fangirl and professional. There are times when I have to remember my boss is a person, then other times when I have to recognize his status as a Hollywood legend. But being a fangirl has given me a greater appreciation for the work I do, I know just how much a film or TV show can impact someone and it helps me make decisions creatively — whether it’s using my fangirl sensibilities to help find a project for our company, or giving feedback on our franchise from a fangirl’s point of view. It’s brought a passion, resourcefulness, and knowledge to my work in the entertainment industry and I would love to hear YOUR stories about how you’ve blended your life as a fangirl with your life as a girlboss!

 

   -Victoria