There's a meme going around the Twittersphere asking people what the best seat is in a variety of situations, such as a New York City subway, popular restaurants and even House of Representatives chambers.
I had the best seat in the house when it came to this past Sunday's 77th annual Golden Globes: front row on the red carpet.
A great friend gave me the opportunity of a lifetime with an invite to the audience bleachers at the arrivals tent. To say it was surreal to be just a few feet away from my favorite actors — Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Brad Pitt, Saoirse Ronan, Billy Porter, to name a few (sorry to name drop) — is the biggest understatement of 2020. So many big names in Hollywood walked past me, and I honestly don't know how I didn't faint.
As they exited their limos to strut their stuff on the red carpet, many stars' first stop was an interview with television personality Jeannie Mai and film critic Scott Mantz for the official Golden Globes red carpet preshow. Lucky for me, they were stationed right in front of me where I could see my dream job in action.
It was also great to see how down to earth many of these big-name actors are, despite having fans scream their names and being, you know, worth millions. Leonardo DiCaprio loved hearing us chant, "Leo! Leo! Leo!," Jennifer Lopez talked back and forth with a few fans who thought she was a knockout in "Hustlers" (including me) and Pitt was a good sport when one woman shouted, "Brad, I have a nice warm seat up here for you!"
These actors and their films have meant so much to me in my life — maybe more than the average person — so it was an exciting, overwhelming and full circle-type moment for me.
I grew up with different circumstances than most people my age. My parents are refugees from the former Yugoslavia, and we immigrated to the United States in the late ’90s. My parents had to endure the trauma that comes with leaving one's home and family in order to live to see another day. I didn't have that experience, but I did grow up seeing what starting over and struggling to make ends meet looks like.
The first few years we didn't have much, and I got a front-row seat to low incomes, living in tight quarters and never expecting the latest toys, gadgets and treats because basic necessities were more important. I didn't understand why things were the way they were at first, but once I did, I grew up at a young age and learned to love all the little things that were ours.
One of those things were movies. I watched whatever my parents watched, and while maybe not every young child should see "Titanic," "Eyes Wide Shut" or "Fight Club," I developed this love and appreciation for films.
It was more than just seeing the special effects or biggest blockbusters at the time. These films taught me a valuable lesson that helped me see a brighter future for myself: It all works out in the end.
If Rose could find her peace by the end of "Titanic," if Noah and Allie could find each other again in "The Notebook," and if Andy Dufresne and Red could find their freedom in "The Shawshank Redemption," why couldn't I expect a happy ending for myself and my family? The more I watched and realized films, one way or another, end in a better place than they begin, I had hope that could happen to us one day.
Ultimately that helped me have a better view of our future. There were tough years, but we made it out on the other side.
That's why Sunday was so much more than a cool red carpet experience. It was realizing that those crazy dreams I had as a child to see those actors in person or to be an entertainment reporter could actually come true. It was hard to head back home after that amazing day, but it was humbling to see how far I've come.
I know I've got a long way to go before I'm standing on that red carpet and interviewing the stars, but my movie's not over just yet.