Meeting Alex Kingston: A Journey
Or: That time I paid $60 to meet a human person and get their signature
Let me start by saying I realize that I’m the worst fan ever.
I love Alex Kingston – she’s an amazing actress, she’s funny and charming in any interviews I’ve seen with her, and of course she’s drop dead sexy.
But I had no idea she was even in town this past Labour Day weekend. I was staying at my cousin’s condo downtown and was wandering around the city, getting sushi, checking out some movies I wanted to see, etc, and I kept seeing all these people in costumes. Weird, I thought. But it is Toronto, so whatever.
Then I spotted a friend’s Facebook post about FanExpo Canada. “Ah,” I thought to myself. “That’s what’s happening.”
So then I decided to google this FanExpo thing and see what it was all about. Oh, there’s some celebs coming. Interesting. Let’s see who’s coming – scrolls down the list – HOLY SHIT ALEX KINGSTON IS HERE!!!
You see, the last time I was ever knowingly in the same municipality as the goddess known as Alex Kingston was in NYC about two years ago, to see her in Macbeth with Kenneth Branagh.
It was an AMAZING production and my friend kindly joined me afterwards to see if the stars would come out and meet the fans, sign some autographs, etc. I’d never tried this in NYC before, but when I was living in London and would go to shows with different friends, we’d often catch a glimpse of the stars doing this. So I had high hopes.
Unfortunately, they never emerged, and this was my face:
One friend who’s wife had attended the opening night and met Alex Kingston, and even got a photo with her (I’m not jealous, I’m not jealous, I’m not jealous), told me to try hanging around the stage door over the next couple of days and maybe I’d see her as she was arriving at the theatre.
This, however, seemed a tad too stalkerish for me so I quite rightly spent the rest of my time in NYC getting drunk in a lesbian bar and stumbling around Times Square.
Fast forward to Labour Day weekend and I decide to buy a spur of the moment Friday ticket and have my first ever FanExpo or ComicCon experience. Why Friday? Because Alex Kingston had a Q&A that day!
(Another example of being the worst fan ever: I haven’t seen all of the new Doctor Who, in which Alex appears. I’ve watched the first two seasons, and then just kinda got occupied by other things. Though I have watched a few of the episodes she’s in because #obviously. Instead, I first saw Alex in a British miniseries called Marchlands, and then binge watched ER with my roommates when I moved back to Toronto.)
During the Q&A, in which she was her lovely and charming self of course, I started thinking, “I wonder if she’s going to talk about being in the new Gilmore Girls.”
Somebody then asked a question about Amy and Rory that I half hear.
Me (thinking they mean Amy Sherman-Palladino and Rory Gilmore), whispered to my friend: Yeah, I heard she was going to be on Gilmore Girls.
Friend: Yeah…..that’s not what they mean…
Me: Oh…right… (realizing it’s a Dr. Who reference)
(Side note re security – now, maybe I’ve been to too many countries where they check under your car with mirrors before you’re even allowed into the parking garage – but seriously. I just strolled into the Metro Convention Centre with my extra-large purse, containing my camera, a sandwich, two bottles of water, my wallet, and a sweater. No metal detector. No one glanced at the contents of my bag. Nothing.)
A friend of the friend I met at FanExpo was getting his Dr Who DVD boxset autographed by Alex, so I asked him if I could tag along, maybe take a photo, and really just get within 5 feet of her.
He said of course, so we did, but while we were in line they told us that we couldn’t take photos when we got up there. One of the people working the lines told us that the day before, someone had taken a photo of Alex at the front of the line – with flash (horror!) – and she had not been happy.
Which I totally get – I mean, I’ve travelled through India and Bangladesh while a single, tall, white female. People constantly taking photos of you sucks.
But this also made me a bit nervous. Because some of the celebs who I admire, I get the impression they could be a bit prickly in real life. Dawn French. Kristin Scott Thomas. Margaret Atwood. (Oh God, do NOT put me in a room alone with a pissed off Margaret Atwood).
I started to worry that if I said hello to her or asked to shake her hand or something, after my friend’s friend got his autograph and talked to her, and I’d not paid for an autograph, that she’d be less than pleased or maybe her “people” would stop me or quickly move me along and really I just didn’t want to ruin the illusion by having her fall off that pedestal I’ve knowingly placed her on.
(if you read that last sentence-paragraph really quickly with no breaks for air, you’ll have some understanding of how my mind works)
So I quickly decided to cough up $60 for one of the photos of her sitting on the table and a chance to meet her. And this was our conversation:
Me: Hi! I saw you in Macbeth in New York. You were so good.
AK: Oh, thank you.
Me (now rambling): Yes, I waited outside pathetically for a bit to see you…(inner voice: Oh God where is this going…why did I mention this?!?!)
AK: What clan were you in?
Me: Uhhhhhh…..I’m not sure…(inner voice: Thank you Alex Kingston for salvaging this horrible conversation)
AK: Do you remember?
Me: I think it was purple…
AK: (Names a clan)?
Me: Maybe. I can’t remember…(inner voice: OMG this conversation is awful/why did I not prepare/think of something to say STAT!!) It was such a beautiful production – I remember seeing all the lights from the army in the dark in the distance.
AK: Oh, I get chills just thinking about it!
And that, people, is my one and only conversation with the ringleted goddess that is Alex Kingston. It probably could’ve been worse.
I should’ve thought it through. WHY DID I NOT THINK IT THROUGH?? It’s like the time I met Jennifer Saunders (someone else in the entertainment world who I adore) and, without context, told her she’d helped me through my economics exams.
Her reaction? “Um…ok.”
The context (aka what I should’ve said): I would get so nervous before economics exams that I’d put on a few minutes of Ab Fab bloopers or a French & Saunders sketch, and I’d laugh and that would relax me as I left my apartment to go write the exam.
But no. Not that of course, in the moment.
Before I went into FanExpo and paid $40 for my ticket – which wasn’t too bad considering I spent most of the day there – I had sworn to myself that I would not buy an autograph or photo op (for those like me who did not know, this is an opportunity to meet your idol for 5 seconds and pose for a photo with them).
Why? Because the whole concept of paying for an autograph or paying for a photo is just weird to me. I mean, I’ve never done that before. I’ve gotten a few autographs here or there, mainly because I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, but I’ve never had to pay. And to pay someone to take a photo with you is just – weird. Although, the photos I saw posted on FB and Twitter of people with a variety of Sci Fi stars were pretty cool.
But what also bothered me was the elitist nature of this whole thing. $60 for an autograph and $80 for a photo, which is what Alex was charging and was at the low end of the scale in comparison to what some of the other celebs were charging, is a lot of money. What about all those people – much bigger fans of these shows and people than I am – who can’t afford that? People who need that kind of money to pay their rent or feed their kids or pay for school. It just saddened me, that something as innocent and lovely as meeting your idol can come with such a huge price tag and therefore be inaccessible to many.
Plus there was the knowledge of all the homeless people literally just on the other side of the wall, on the street outside.
But I did it, I paid $60 for a photograph and a signature and a 1 minute encounter with one of my favourite actresses. Was it worth it? Is it sad that I would say “Probably.”??
But I don’t think I can justify doing it ever again…