As I lived in Los Angeles for many years and as a reporter used to cover Hollywood, people sometimes get amazed when they realize the amount of actors and actresses I’ve already met. They want to know who was the friendliest, who I didn’t quite like, and of course where can they also see them.
Unfortunately there’s no magic place where I can tell you “go there and you will definitely see someone”. But it is possible to increase your chances. Here’s how:
1- Check out the calendar of events in Hollywood
Celebrities are constantly participating at Awards Shows, receiving stars in the Walk of Fame, premiering their movies or attending charity events and galas. Most of those events have a red carpet where fans can see their idols up-close. You will probably need to arrive early, as lots of people have the same idea. A good place to start checking what’s going on in Tinseltown is Seeing Stars.
2- Learn where to look for
Most celebrities (especially women) have a healthy lifestyle, choosing organic fruits, vegetables and whole foods to take home. As such, they tend to shop at places which traditionally sell such ingredients, like local Farmer’s Markets and Whole Foods grocery stores, especially those in the neighborhoods well-known for having celebrities as residents, like Brentwood.
If you’d rather go shopping in hopes of seeing someone you admire, head directly to Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills. That’s where most of the luxury brands are located. The area tends to get pretty busy on weekends, so chances are celebrities would opt to shop on a weekday.
When I first arrived in Los Angeles to study at UCLA I spent my first week touring around. One day I was taking pictures at the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Blvd, and saw both Sharon Stone and Mike Tyson at the Louis Vuitton in this very same corner.
3- Try to get free tickets for the bleachers at major Award Shows, like the Oscars
Unless you are connected to someone who either works at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or has worked on a nominated movie, chances are you will not get inside the theater where the Oscars ceremony takes place. The same applies for every major Awards Show.
But what if you could go to the red carpet area just outside? As an example, there are some 700 seats at the bleachers that line the Oscars red carpet. Tickets are free and you will see all the rich and famous arriving full of hopes of not leaving empty-handed. As this is a dream coming true for many people, it is very difficult to get a ticket. You need to register at the Oscar’s website months in advance and the names are drawn as part of a lottery system. For you to have an idea of terms and conditions, here are some instructions for the recent Fan Experience program at the Oscars and also for the Emmys. You can check out by yourself the regulations for other shows you like.
If you don’t have tickets for the ceremony nor for the bleachers, going to the location where the event takes place in hopes of seeing someone is a waste of time. The boulevards where the theaters are located are closed to traffic and to people with no invitation or accreditation, so you will most likely end up standing several dozens of yards away.
4- Try to become a seat filler
Before you get totally discouraged and think you have no chance at all to sit side by side with a celeb at an Awards show, here goes an idea which may be worth a try.
Have you ever heard of seat fillers? These are people who seat in the celebrities’ chairs when they go to the stage, the backstage or to the bathroom. It is a real chance to be in the game. But as expected it’s also very hard to get.
No agency will invite first comers for major events, especially the Oscars. You need to build a history doing that at smaller events and showing you are trustworthy. You cannot be taking selfies or chatting with whoever is beside you and of course you need to go through major background checks. After you prove you are reliable, you may grow in the business. It is an unpaid job though.
If you are interested, you can register at seatfillersandmore.com.
5- Be part of the audience of a TV show
Most the shows on TV which have an audience are shot in Los Angeles. The producers are everyday looking for people who would like free tickets. All you will need to do is be natural and clap when asked. Even if you never heard of the show or are not a fan of the host, it can actually be a fun experience to see how major TV programmes are recorded. Without mentioning that your favorite actors may be a guest exactly on the day you attend – imagine that!
I’ve been approached several times while just walking down the Walk of Fame, especially in the area close to the Chinese Theatre in both sides of the street. If you’d rather be more proactive to guarantee tickets, check out Audiences Unlimited and 1iota. They work with several TV shows but also do seat fillings and hire extras for certain events.
6- Check out industry conferences
Gone are the days when celebrities would simply give interviews to select news outlets to promote their movies. Today they also go where fans are, sometimes to speak directly to them. Events like ComicCon in San Diego (3 hours away) and Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim (30-40 min drive) are good examples. Events vary from Q&A’s on stage to meet and greet at the exhibition hall and autograph sessions.
Although events don’t release the detailed programme much time in advance, if you follow your idols on social media you probably know what their next gigs are. Then you can check the promotional agenda for features films or TV shows. Or maybe the actors themselves may announce on Twitter or Instagram where they may show up for a promotional event. Most celebrity Facebook accounts are run by their publicists, but you may also find information from comments left by fans.
7- Book signings
If you’re a fan of literature, check the schedule of book signings in town. Maybe your favorite actor or actress is not even considering writing a book, but they may show up at an event to support good friends. Most bookstores list at their websites all events going on in every store in the country.
8- Meet and greet sessions
So far I’ve referred mostly to actors and actresses, but if your dream is to meet a singer or a band, you may have not yet heard of VIP tickets for concerts. Of course you can try the free method (waiting by their car or bus, bypassing security, going to their hotel, etc), which will not work the majority of the times. So check if your idol already offers VIP options. VIP packages include not only the ticket for the event, but also a meet and greet session where you can briefly talk to the band, get autographs and take photos together. It is very expensive though. Today you can find VIP offers not only to concerts but also to select movie screenings when actors are present or to theater plays.
9- Party with the stars
Now if money is not an issue for you, just relax and enjoy this last tip. Have you ever considered attending the parties where celebs go? Specially pre and post major Awards Shows, there are multiple parties going on which are free for them, but if simple mortals wish to attend they must be ready to open the wallet or make use of the high limits on credit cards. Here are some examples: how about going to a Pre-Oscar Party like this one promoted by Go Green? And there are several Oscars After Parties. You can find most of the open ones on Google.
I hope I could give you some ideas to get started. If you decide following them and end up meeting celebrities, please remember that they are also humans. If they are not at a working event, it’s a good thing to respect their privacy. But even if they are working on promotional activities, remember that they may be on a bad day and won’t be as nice, happy and polite as you expected. They have problems just like you do. In worst case scenario if that happens, for good or for bad you will still have a story to tell.