I spent New Year’s Eve in 2017 alone in my LA apartment, drinking champagne and streaming New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in pjs. It’s a wild life, I tell you. (Granted, I had to drive two hours the next day to cover a film festival for work, but that’s neither here nor there.) At that point, I was feeling pretty defeated on the work front, plus NYE was never really my thing… still, I clung to the hope of possibilities and rejuvenation of the New Year, as I’m sure everyone does on some level.
Little did I know what was in store.
Let this be a precautionary tale: Your New Year’s Eve sure as fuck doesn’t foreshadow your year.
Out of nowhere at the onset of the New Year, I suddenly stopped feeling sorry for myself (my career wasn’t quite taking off or going in the direction I relentlessly wanted it to, and blah, blah, blah). When I finally surrendered a little bit, stopped being such a control freak, and began trusting the process, I started kicking ass and accepting where the universe was taking me. And it was awesome. Now, looking back at 2018 on this New Year’s Eve, so many of the unexpected things I experienced and accomplished still feel so surreal.
I turned a lifelong dream of being a part of Playboy into my real life. I offered a unique voice in chaos of the Time’s Up noise. I sat down with Oprah. I sat in a lot of unexpected places, actually, like on a mountain-top luge in New Zealand and front row at the Emmys next to John Legend.
If I thought I could’ve made this shit up, I would’ve by now.
None of this is to toot my own horn, by the way. (Well, maybe a little. I do work my ass off.) It’s to prove that the possibilities of your life are endless if you let them be, and sitting back to let the universe show you that is damn near brilliant and utterly exciting. And before I get any cheesier, here are the wildest highlights from 2018.
JANUARY: A Playboy Dream Turned Reality
For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated, and a little obsessed, with Playboy. I admired the way it fearlessly challenged the norm and liberated our culture, specifically women… always with class, of course 😉 And after a strange twist of fate, I was able to lend my voice to the outlet. I wrote my first Playboy piece in defense of Karen Gillan’s revealing Jumanji outfit, questioning why people were up in arms that the movie sexualized her, but didn’t react the same towards The Rock. After the piece (which I’m still so proud of) was published, I stared at my name on the byline next to the Playboy logo for about 10 minutes.
FEBRUARY: Calling Out E!’s Time’s Up Hypocrisy
I knew this piece had the potential of ruffling feathers, or even putting my job as a freelance red carpet reporter in jeopardy. I mean, I was calling out colleagues and esteemed figures in my own work space. But that’s exactly why I had to write it. Being in the center of Hollywood as Time’s Up unfolded, I couldn’t stomach the blatant hypocrisy from the entertainment powerhouse (and my once-dream network) E! So I called them out and asked celebrities to confront or boycott the network at the Oscars in an op-ed published by The Huffington Post.
MARCH: Meeting Oprah
…when I apologized to her, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling for potentially flashing them with my skirt.
MARCH: Riverdale Meets Gun Control
No one expected Riverdale to blow up and turn into the teen craze it’s become. And while the internet stans the show and its ‘ships so hard, I had to go in a different direction when I met the cast again in the spring. (Sorry, Bugheads.) When I encountered the actors for the second time, it was at the height of March For Our Lives and the conversation around gun control. Being prominent youths themselves, I found it almost disrespectful to not ask them about it, even if it did put me at risk of getting the death stare from many of publicists. I was a little nervous going into it, but the payoff was so great and I throughly enjoyed hearing what they had to say.
APRIL: Avengers and Chris Pratt’s Fart
Being a part of the massive promo trail for Avengers: Infinity War was an unforgettable experience in and of itself. But playing a game of trivia with the cast for Bustle and getting Chris Pratt to talk about his pee break (that he took right before I sat down with him) was really what made it one I won’t forget. No doubt that it was a fun experience, but on a deeper level, it really showed me how throwing the rulebook away and being in the moment truly pays off.
APRIL: Moderating My First Panel
Because interviewing is my biggest passion, I’ve always dreamt of moderating a panel (especially since I go to so many for work). After interviewing UnREAL show runner Stacy Rukeyser, her team unexpectedly reached me to moderate an UnREAL panel with the creatives and cast at the Writer’s Guild of America in Hollywood. Such a liberating and growing experience to run the show and challenge myself in this way. And it was obviously a blast.
MAY: My Morgan Freeman Experience
What’s funny about this piece is that I didn’t even want to write it to begin with. Now, I believe it changed the course of my career for the better and really allowed me to, for lack of a better term, grow a pair of balls. When buzz surrounding Morgan Freeman and harassment allegations against him started swirling, my best friend, also my mentor, said I would be crazy not to offer my very different outlook given I had my own controversial interaction with the actor documented on camera. I thought, “Who cares what I have to say about it? No one.” Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to make you realize you’re being a short-sided dumbass.
This piece is now one of my favorites to date. In short, Freeman and I jested about my ripped-up jeans during a 2016 movie junket. I found the experience light-hearted and amusing, but others didn’t. Like The Blast, for instance, which wrote a piece saying Freeman “openly objectified” me. So, I wrote a piece for Playboy to tell my side and make clear I didn’t feel objectified. (At the time of the encounter, I also wrote a piece recounting the negative experience I had with a female colleague who shamed my outfit that day.)
My thoughts? One, not every move a man makes is harassment. We need to be careful about this. Two, Don’t make me out to be a #MeToo victim if I don’t feel I am one — it’s not fair to anyone, especially the real victims out there.
AUGUST: Getting deep with Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek
Honestly, I kind of had to wing this one. But for some reason, my sit down with Charlie and Rami for Papillon is one that still stands out in my mind as one of my favorites, and that’s probably why. I interviewed them for Playboy, and as usual, found myself bored with the idea of talking about film logistics, what it was like working with each other, etc. etc. I took the liberty of giving us more room to explore and go deeper by diving into the concept of masculinity and what it means to them in real life. (The original Papillon, of course, is an iconic and very masculine film.)
We somehow immediately cut the bullshit. While we may have been in a stuffy hotel room, I felt like I was casually, genuinely, and honestly talking to two guy friends at a bar. We cursed, talked about mental health and spirituality, and yes, “fluffing.” It was just… real.
SEPTEMBER: The Emmys
My oh my. This was an experience. Talk about throwing caution to the wind…
In the height of Hollywood’s annual awards season, the pressure is on for reporters like me. Being among the crowd of a massive show like the Emmys isn’t a leisurely experience. We’re paid to discretely rub shoulders with celebs between commercial breaks, not drink champagne in the lobby with peasants like ourselves. But for whatever reason, this year I said I’m going to have some goddamn fun. The universe liked that one.
I let go of anxiety about getting “caught” sitting nonchalantly with the Stranger Things cast (like I was the year prior). So while people scrambled to their seats as a commercial break ended, I somehow convinced a producer I was supposed to be in the front row. I ended up sitting with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen to my left and Hilaria Baldwin, Alec’s wife, to my right (which, funnily enough, I realized was her after I got up). But once I grew tired of the front row (you can only enthusiastically fake clap for so long), I wandered to the backstage bathroom. There, Elisabeth Moss waited patiently behind me for a stall (yeah, you wait your turn, lady!) in line before Sandra Oh offered for me to join her at the sink and we shared some “When you gotta go, you gotta go” remarks. Another point in the evening, I wound up behind Justin Hartley line at the lobby bar. We had small talk before he and his wife got drinks and I ordered a water. Work duty is work duty.
To top it off, I interviewed Henry Winkler at the HBO after party following his iconic, first Emmy win. When I asked him how heavy the award was, he had me test it out myself, handed it over, and later kissed me on the cheek when we wrapped our discussion. I loved the shit out of my job that night.
OCTOBER: New Zealand
While I can’t tell you exactly why I was in New Zealand (yet!) I can tell you it was one of the most unexpected and kickass journeys of my life. Full disclosure: I pretty much had to be talked into going on this trip. It was a tough summer, I had a horrible loss in my family, and after traveling so much for work and other reasons, I just wanted to keep my ass put. I’m so happy I didn’t.
New Zealand was breathtaking. It’s pure, larger-than-life, and hard to believe it’s real when you’re in it. We drank water directly from a stream, saw stars that you could practically reach out and grab, and reenacted Lord of the Rings where it was actually shot. I was flipping out, yes. (Did you know the actors actually shot scenes on those mountains?)
Overall, though, I went totally outside my comfort zone. Not the most outdoorsy of people, I found myself over New Zealand mountains on a ski lift and went down a speed luge (three times).
In the fall, people were starting to pick up on Lady Gaga repeating the exact same sentiments about Bradley Cooper in various interviews and it eventually became so absurd it was a viral internet joke. Of course, I ended up unexpectedly meeting Gaga for the first time in the midst of all this nonsense. On a red carpet. Honoring Bradley Cooper.
Getting her to talk, do, or mutter anything outside of Bradley’s unmatched genius was a feat. So with a spur-of-the-moment idea, I somehow got the seriously straight-faced icon to break loose for just a second and laugh. Yep. Laugh. I asked if she and Bradley talked about giving their Star Is Born characters babies, mentioning they’d be damn cute ones. She genuinely laughed for all of three seconds then kept it moving, but it still counts right?
That’s it… for now, of course 🙂 Hope these stories provided even a bit of entertainment or inspiration. I’m so grateful to each of you who’ve been with me every step of the way through all of this exciting madness. There’s so much more to come, guys, and I can’t wait to show you what’s in store. Raise your hand if you’re ready to make 2019 your bitch!!! ✋