Let me set the scene for you:
Its August 25th 2006, sometime after 10pm. I'd just finished watching the play, Fences, in Pasadena CA. Starring Laurence Fishburne and the Angela Bassett. I drove all the way from Seattle to California to see this play (really to see the woman who starred in it) and the entire play was an incredible theatrical experience. Combined with great acting and an incredible script, this play is easily one to travel miles to see. After I saw the theatrical experience, I waited outside of the theatre with my father, next to a side door entrance, where the stars of the play were expected to leave.
Personally, I never wanted to meet Angela and Id told my dad that too. I know thats something of an oxymoron, a BassettHound that doesnt want to meet Angela Bassett. Its not that I didnt want to meet the woman I'd adored since I was 8 years old because I was too scared (ok...yeah it was because I was a little scared). But it was really because I didnt want to meet Angela Bassett for the first time and not have it be something special, something remarkable, something worth the 10 years I'd been a fan. I was also scared of the fact that she might not be the same person we see on screen or in the TV interviews. I'd heard a quote before that goes,
"Never meet your idol, they always disappoint you." I didnt want to be disappointed.
Since I didnt want to meet her just then, I wasnt prepared to meet her just then. As they say, that would prove to 'bite me on the ass.' I tried to get out of meeting her; I told my dad that I just wanted to watch her sign autographs and do normal things. I just wanted to see what she was like outside of the movie screen and the stage. I didnt quite get my wish:
She came out of the side entrance door, secure and walking between two of her close friends, Orlando Jones (her costar in the play) to her right and Pamala Tyson (her best friend) to her left. They were connected, embraced, locked into each others arms until I moved in front of her and said,
"Hello Ms. Angela."
My dad started to speak for me (I could have sworn I told him I could handle it!). He said
"This is my daughter shes ---"
but Angela "the Queen" Bassett immediately turned her gaze from him, looked towards me, held out her hand and asked,
"Aww whats your name?" I told her. She said,
"O Simonique how are you?"
*She said "O" and "Aww" in that familiar, soothing way she speaks to people, as if shes never surprised or stunned by anything and that "O" and "Aww" she says, really means "Yessss I already knew that"*
I dont remember saying this to her,
"Im great" Then she asks me,
"How did you like the play?" I don't remember saying this either,
"I loved it! You were great!"
This whole time we're shaking hands and shes staring right into my eyes, grinning and Im squeezing her hand so hard that I can feel those tiny little bones right beneath the skin that keep her fingers mobile, but she doesnt seem to notice.
*WOW she really is an amazing actress*
My dad interrupts and says,
"Would you please sign her shirt?"
But Angela screws up her face as if she was wincing from a pain and she moans,
I imagine as if to say "I do not want to sign this girls shirt while shes wearing it!" I read her mind and stepped in and said,
"O no no you dont have to sign my shirt. I just really want to take a picture with you."
She says another "O" and "okay" and we pose for the picture.
I put my arm around her waist and I feel, through my right palm, those world-famous abs that she has kept rock hard through her 48 years. She put her left arm around my shoulder and my father took the picture. The whole time we were preparing to take the picture I was trying to think of something clever to ask her so that I would have that special, memorable, experience with her that Id always dreamed of. So as we separated I say,
"Ive gotta ask you this. Did that woman really say 'you has reached'?"
I asked this because in one of her interviews she was talking about a daycare center she called and got the answering machine and when it picked up it said "you has reached McCorvey Nursing Care for Children" and Angela called the machine back like 5 times to make sure she was hearing the woman right. She had said "you has reached" instead of "you have reached".
*You can find the interview at the bottom of this page
And when I finally met Angela Bassett, when I was face to face with her I asked her about that woman saying 'you has reached'. I assumed she would understand. I assumed that she would know exactly what I was talking about since it happened to her.
NOPE! At first she placed her hand on my back, leaned in closer to me and tilted her head to hear me better and asked,
"What was that?" and I said,
"Remember when you were looking for a babysitter".....bla bla bla .....then some more crazy mess that I muttered instead of speaking. *No wonder she didn't have a clue what I was saying*
Our faces had to be less than an inch away from each other because she was straining so hard to understand me. And then after 2 more times explaining and she has no clue what Im talking about she just gives up and says,
"Yeah yeah right, she said that."
*To this day, if Tacia or Amanda feel the urge to bother me, they sarcasticlly say 'yeah yeah right' or 'you has reached.' I dont think they'll ever let me live that one down*
The funny thing is that I wasnt heartbroken (at least not then) that I totally made a fool of myself while probably annoying Ms. Bassett (trust me, 'unprepared' is no longer in my vocabulary!).
She quickly turned her back and moved away from me and started to sign autographs. I was now standing behind Angela Bassett, staring at her, while she signed other peoples memorabilia from Whats Love Got to Do With It. I started to breathe really heavy and hang my head, as it slowly sunk in that this was my dream, my every want, all in this one moment. I didnt know what to do as I watched her leaning over to sign autographs like the movie star we all know, so I walked back over to my dad.
I was behind the crowd surrounding Angela, still watching her, when the crowd opens up and my dad pushes me towards Angela. And he asks,
"Can you please sign her shirt?"
I'm struggling with him, trying to push myself away from Angela and I say,
"Daddy no I dont want to bug her, NO!"
But then she stops signing autographs, turns to me and says,
"Okay honey okay" and she proceeds to sign my shirt!
She signs her first name perfect but she couldnt reach the bottom of the shirt I was wearing so that she could sign her last name. So she tugs at the bottom of my shirt and writes "Bassett". When she was done, she looked up at me and extended her arm out to give me her pen, but I was too busy staring at her like she was the 8th wonder of the world to realize it. So after a second of staring at her and her staring back, I dropped my gaze to the pen and took it out of her hand.
*It wasnt mine and it wasnt really hers either, but its mine now!*
As she walked away with her two anchors, disguised as friends, beside her, I stare at her so intensely that I believe she has to feel my eyes burning imprints into her back.
She and her anchors look both ways before they cross the street and arrive at Angelas car; a silver, sleek, and sexy car that she looks great standing beside. Pamala gets in the passenger side and Angela gets in the drivers side while Orlando shuts the door for her. Before she gets in the car though she looks back towards me and for a second there I thought she was looking at me, while I was leaning on a tree for support, trying to catch my breath and watch her every move at the same time. But in fact she was looking back towards Laurence Fishburne who was now making his way out of the side door entrance.
I didnt know this, all I knew was that Angela Bassett just said my name, I just held her waist, she just touched my back. I was in shock, but my dad didnt seem to care about the state I was in. The fact that I was literally in a trance. I couldnt feel myself breathe, I didnt remember myself speaking, and I had that tunnel vision that the professional bikers often get when they're in a zone. But my tunnel vision was even more narrow, my vision was trained only on one woman.
My dad says,
"Simonique, Simonique, theres Laurence Fishburne! Lets go take a picture with him."
I didnt even turn my head; I kept my eyes on Angela's car, trying to see her drive away, trying to prove to myself that she really doesnt drive her car like she did in Boyz N the Hood (all over the curb). I tell my dad,
"I dont care about him! I want to watch her drive away."
This is somewhat ironic, since just the other day I told my mom that I wanted to marry a man that looked exactly like Laurence Fishburne. My dad keeps pestering me, pulling me toward the man they call Morpheus or (more situation appropriate), Ike Turner. I give up and walk toward the crowd already surrounding Laurence, I took my gaze from Angela right before she drove off (I guess Ill never know the mystery of her driving skills!).
When I laid eyes on Laurence "Larry" Fishburne, for a second, I forgot about Angela (for a second). Mr. Fish was kneeling on a lamp pole with his back up against it and one leg lifted up to sign autographs. Hes always been sexy, smooth, simply alluring.....but see that man in person and your senses will do blackflips! Fish is very much a male, bulky, muscular, and his presence is very much like it is in his films: invading.
While I was having heart palpatations, me and my dad were positioned standing directly in front of him, yet we were the farthest away. A little while into his signing people start to crowd around him even more, pressuring him to sign their memorabilia. These people did not attend the play that night, they just stood outside the entrance, waiting for the signatures of the famous stars so they could make a profit selling them somewhere on eBay.
Laurence promptly told them, in his famous "Im pissed off" voice,
"Hey look, back up! Back up!"
The whole crowd took a few steps back, I got a flashback from Whats Love Got to Do with It and I took 2 more steps back. I wasnt too intimidated though. I mean this was Laurence Fishburne....wasnt he always yelling?? I felt that his shouting was nothing out of the norm, I'd seen him do it before. It actually put me more at ease to witness first-hand the dynamic man we see in the movies. So I felt comfortable enough to shout out to him,
"Hay, Im left-handed too!"
He looked up at me, slowly, and gave me the most bone-chilling glare. I guess I wasnt as cute and adorable to Mr. Fishburne as the others Id met that night. *Soon Id realize I was wrong even about that*.
A little while into Laurence signing more autographs one guy decided to be brave and come closer to Larry. Larry promptly yelled with even more sting in his bite,
"I told you to back up!"
Then my dad, sensing Laurence's eagerness to leave asked him,
"Could you please take a picture with my daughter?" I dont recall this but, my dad says that Laurence told him,
"Hold on, man. Hold on."
After this, Fish did something to change my mind about him, he told the crowd,
"All right, look here. Im going to sign this last autograph and Im going to take a picture with this young lady and then Im done."
That young lady was me and when I walked towards him, he didnt tell me to "back up!" He asked me,
"How are you?"
I told him,
"I'm really good. You were great in the play, Mr. Laurence."
He then asked my dad how he was and then we took the picture.
Though it was great to meet Laurence *the man of my dreams*, it didnt compare to Angela. I actually talked to her, more than any other fan that night. I learned some very valuable lessons:
- Never be ill-prepared when you're meeting a Queen
- There are other words than 'great' and I should use them
- Laurence Fishburne doesnt like 'cute' but damn if he isnt
I wish that feeling for everyone, the feeling that you get when you have finally accomplished something you set out to do. My life's goal is to feel that feeling over and over again. I met my idol, I met Angela Bassett and I wasn't disappointed at all...
On March 1, I had the pleasure of not going to 1 but 2 book signings in which The Vance’s graced us with their presence. It was truly a wonderful experience and I just want to thank Angela, Courtney and everyone else involved with the signings who helped make my dream come true that day.
My husband and I arrive at Borders (4 hours early) and we are waiting around. The whole time I was nervous. My stomach was killing me. It was doing flips, going up and down not to mention around and around. My husband was trying to hold it together for me. He started asking the workers questions, trying to get in good with them, while I had a million and one things going on in my mind.
What am I gonna say? What if I say something stupid? What if I don’t say anything at all? I am too nervous. I need to calm down. If I keep acting like this I am going to mess it up. Breathe, Amanda, Breathe.
About 1 hour before they are about to start the book signing, they start to form a line, which of course I was first. After a while, I had decided to take my jacket off and reveal my shirt. Everybody loved it. “Where did you get that? Are they selling them in the store? You BassettHounds should sell them on your site?” However, I could not think of anything else besides the fact that I was about to meet Angela Bassett!
Then all the publicists moved to sit down, and the camera men got in place. "Oh my God she coming! Anthony she’s coming!" I start shaking and it was hard for me to breathe all of a sudden.
I heard her voice before I saw her. “Hi. How are you? Thank you for coming.” Then there she was. Walking with her fur coat on, smiling and waving with Courtney right behind her. My mouth drops. My heart stops. Then something breaks my concentration. “Damn she’s fine!” Anthony stop that. But she was gorgeous. She looks so much better in person. I don’t know how that is possible, but she did.
They stand there taking different poses, together and alone with the book. So they finally sit down and the first person I get eye contact with is Courtney. He looks at the shirt then looks up at me and smiles. My nervous look is gone and I get this goofy school girl look on my face.
They drop the rope and get us ready to go up to the table and all the nerves come back. ‘What! No wait, I am not ready yet. Let me stand here for a minute and compose myself.’ I am thinking all this as I slowly walk up to the table. I look back up and guess who is looking at me smiling? Courtney. Angela is busy singing books already, cause she’s all about business.
Before I get halfway to the table Courtney yells, “Ohhhhhhhh look at this.”
I start laughing.
“You went all out I see.”
“Yeah I had to.”
Now I was sitting there trying to get myself ready for Angela, but Courtney was taking everything from me. He is so engaging. When he talks to you he looks you right in the eyes and it feels like he is sincerely interested in you. Now I am nervous all over again. I don’t know what to do with my hands. I am dancing back and forth. It’s almost like he senses my nervousness cause he laughs and says, “That’s a great picture.”
“Yes, I thought so myself” We both laugh.
By this time Angela has seen the shirt and I look over at her and she is smiling. Come on Amanda, the man is practically forcing you to talk and he is setting you up perfectly. Say SOMETHING!
As Courtney finishes signing the book, I take it from him and prepare to move to Angie, when Courtney looks up and says something else. “Oh you’re the BassettHounds huh?”
I hand Angela the book, but I quickly turn back to Courtney and say, “Yeah, we are beyond fans, so we call ourselves Bassetthounds.”
Angela lets out this loud laugh that startles me so much that I turn and look at her with a surprise. Courtney says “ohhhhhhh okay,” and turns to sign my husband’s book.
After that I was done. But I had to say something to Angela. After all, I did come to meet her, even if it was turning into Courtney’s day. So I turn to her and say “Yeah if you get a chance you should check us out.”
“Oh, okay sweetie.”
Now Courtney was still looking at me and my shirt. I could hear my husband say “Yeah that my wife, I am here for support cause she was nervous about meeting ya’ll.”
I am thinking ‘Alright Anthony, you don’t have to say all that.’ But then Angela hands me my book back, waves and says “Okay, thank you.”
“No, Thank you. It was a pleasure.”
At this point I am stepping away from the table, when she reaches out her hand and says “Awwww.”
I step back up and shake her hand and she says “Thank you. Bye now.”
Now all I can do is stand back and watch. I talk to some of Angela and Courtney’s publicists and agents who had seen the blog and recognized the BassettHounds. Everyone was so nice and talking to me about the blog and the book.
After a while, Angela & Courtney get up and start making their exit. Courtney reminds everyone if they want to hear them speak to come to Hue Man’s and they will be there. The press take a couple more pictures and people are still trying to get them to sign their books and take pictures. By this time I still had not got a good picture, so my husband is trying to get me to go up them and take one. I don’t know what it is, but I am not a pushy person. I am just grateful for what I get, and what I got was enough to last me a lifetime. My husband, on the other hand, wasn’t satisfied.
As they leave Angela says, “Thanks everyone for coming. We really appreciate it.” They both wave and say good bye and I just look at them and smile.
My husband is a little disappointed, but I was on could nine. I could care less that I didn’t get a good picture by being all up in their face demanding one. I didn’t want to be left with the impression that I was a pushy fan that didn’t respect them enough to give them their space. I wanted them to walk away thinking, ‘That BassettHound with the shirt was a nice young lady.’ It actually pleased me more that Angela and Courtney seemed to be more interested in me, than I was of them. I could have floated back to Virginia right then and there, but I still had much more in store.
We arrive at Hue Man’s an hour early and there is already a line. I decide to take off my shirt and once again everybody just goes crazy. “Oh we need to jump her and take that shirt. Why didn’t you bring more and sell them? That looks good. You are definitely going to get their attention with that. After they see you in it, take it off and pass it to me.”
At this point we get invited by some of the publicists to join them, which leads us to our front row seats, and I get hit with questions and comments. “Where are you from? You drove from Virginia to see them. What are the BassettHounds? I think it’s great what ya’ll are doing.”
It was just a fun atmosphere. I was loving every minute of it. I didn’t have nerves like I did the first time. Everyone was making me feel at home. Not only will I have the memory of meeting Angela and Courtney burned in my head, but their team and the fans as well.
The lady working at the store and who was also in charge of the event, came down to tell everybody how the signing was going to go. As she is giving instructions and is about to close up she says, “So lets just keep this smooth,” looks right at me, points and reads my shirt, “Cause it’s all about Angela Bassett.” Everybody looks at me and laughs. I can’t stand this much attention, but at the same time I didn’t mind when it came to Angela.
Now I had good seats when I went to see Fences. I was so excited because I could just walk to and touch the stage. But that was NOTHING compared to how close I was now.
A door behind us opens and Courtney comes out first with Angie not to far behind. She has changed clothes and taken that fur off. As soon as they walk down the steps, and I am not talking a second later, Courtney looks right at me, points his hand, shakes his head like ‘Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.’
“There it is. Nice to see you again.”
“Yeah I am here with less nerves this time.”
Angela starts pulling Courtney to stop talking to the girl with the shirt and take some pictures. As they start taking pictures, Courtney is joking around making funny poses, being the sweetie he is. (I am telling ya’ll I have jumped on the Courtney wagon. We are going to have to rename ourselves the Bassett-VanceHounds. Think about it and we‘ll take a vote later.)
They finally get to sit down and Angela opens it by saying, “Thank you everyone for coming. For making us feel so welcome. We appreciate your support.” Then a fan starts talking to Courtney about Fences and he is still joking around and making poses. This guy reaches his hand out (cause that’s how close we are) shakes her hand, then asks Courtney permission to kiss it. Courtney says, “Yes you may," so he kisses her hand and then passes out on the floor. Everybody laughs and the lady in charge of the signing is getting irritated and tells him to get up so they can start. I was laughing so hard I started crying.
They let Hilary do an introduction for them. She is all emotional and Courtney, still on his A game, gets up and hugs her and joking around. She starts taking about how we know Courtney and Angela from…. she has a hard time thinking of the names of the movies, so everyone starts naming some films and Courtney yells as he points out into the audience, “Don’t worry, you have help.”
They went into telling the story of how they came to write the book. And then went into reading from the book. The reading along with the ad-libs where great. They really need to do an audio book or something. It was amazing.
So after they finished we went through the line to get yet another book signed. Once again there are supposed to be no poses. The lady standing there was taking our books from us, unlike the other time when you could hand them yourself. I asked her if I could take a picture, but she was standing right next to Courtney so I couldn’t just get next to him so my husband could take it. She said that she didn’t think we could.
Then Angela looks up and me and says “Your back I see.”
“Yeah. Can I please get a picture, I didn’t get one last time,” sounding like a baby.
“Of course! Come around here.”
I went around the table and stood next to her. I bend down to get face to face with her. She puts her hand on my shoulder and I wrap my arm around her waist.
“There you go.”
I start laughing and then click, my husband takes the picture.
I wanted to get one with Courtney also, cause he had been so nice, but I just move along and let it go.
I get one more moment with Angela as some fans point out my shirt again.
“Angela did you see this?”
Angela, who had just took a big gulp of water and couldn’t talk, put a finger up to her eyes, pointed at my shirt and them gave a thumbs up and nodded her head, as if to say ‘Yep, I saw it and I like it.’
They finally get to leave, with people still trying to take pictures and get them to sign things and Courtney finally says, “Thank you all very much, but we really have to go.” As he waves everybody goodbye and closes the door that Angela had already disappeared into, my husband gives me a hug cause I am tearing up- I am so happy.
I will never forget meeting Angela, shaking her hand, laughing with her and talking with the charming Mr. Vance. They both have such beautiful sprits and it was a great honor just to be in their presence. Thank you so much Mr. and Mrs. Vance and once again, keep doing great things!
Two BassettHounds down, One to go. Tacia's meeting is in waiting and sure to bring even more surprises!