I love going to sci-fi/geeky conventions. I get out to as many as I can in a year. Normally I can make it to four or five, even though here in Colorado it seems we average at least one a month, especially if you can travel all over the state. We are a geeky state.
Last weekend we showed the world just how geeky Colorado can be by holding the Denver Comic Con and having an attendance of over 101,000 people. We have solidly put ourselves as one of the top five comic con.
One of the greater aspects of DCC is the chance to meet various celebrities from all aspects of entertainment. This year I left with a lot of enjoyable experiences like the conversation I had with Anthony Michael Hall that covered his time on Saturday Night Live, Robert Downing Jr and joking about him getting a role in a Marvel movie. It was not a long exchange, but it was enjoyable and I left feeling like Hall was the type of person you would want to hang with.
I can say the same about the incredibly talented voice actors from The Animaniacs. They were just awesome to talk with and clearly enjoyed interacting with the fans.
For me those kind of interactions play a huge role in why people attend the DCC level of conventions. The chance to meet these celebrities and have a moment with them is something memorable.
Yet the opposite happens far more than it should.
Even this year I had a few unflattering experiences with the celebrity guests. So here is a short list of my advice for celebrities at conventions.
First off, never ever say 'no meet and greets'. Meet and greets are a way for fans to just come up and say 'hi' and briefly talk with the celebrities. Not every fan is going to be able to afford to buy an autograph, especially now days with how high the prices get. I don't have a few hundred dollars that I can spend on such frivolity. By saying that if I want to meet you I have to send $40 or more for an autograph, that becomes insulting. You are saying you only care about fans who have money.
Now I get that your time is valuable. But it is all of your fans who make your career, not just those who have money at the cons. Although I will note that very often those with a 'no meet and greet' policy often have the shortest lines at the cons, meaning they are often spending their time sitting at a table doing nothing, which seems to me to be a bigger waste of time than actually meeting their fans.
And understand, your fans should not be viewed as only a source of revenue. If that is all we are to you, then you do not deserve us.
My second piece of advice, at least act like you are enjoying yourselves. Most of you are actors after all. Of all the times you should use you acting abilities I would think cons would be perfect. Make your fans at least believe you think they are important.
I know cons might come off as being 'work' for some of them and they might be missing out on doing something back home. You know something, I have a job myself. I have missed out on a lot of things because I have had to work. I still go to work and at the least try to be pleasant to those I deal with during the day, even if I am not feeling my best. Of course in my case I have to go to my work. I am fairly sure conventions are voluntary, extra events these celebrities are not required to attend. So if they truly do not enjoy the interaction with the fans, it would actually be better to just not attend. I would rather never meet certain celebrities than find out they are jerks.
I am not saying that in their everyday life that celebrities need to go out of their way for fans. If I saw Nathan Fillion on the street and he told me he was busy, I would understand and not think him a jerk for blowing me off. Celebrities have lives and should be allowed to live them. However at a con they are more or less making a deal to be there for the fans, spending time in what should be memorable exchanges. If they dislike such meetings with the fans, then they should just stop attending the cons.
I will say that all of my enjoyable exchanges with celebrities have been for the most part with ones who seem to go by the advice I have given. They have given me stories I am excited to tell over and over again because they gave me an enjoyable experience. I do have a batch of stories that I tell about my less enjoyable experiences with celebrities who do not live by the advice I have given. Regretfully this list also grows a little more each year. At least so far my positive experiences out number the negative ones. Most of the time it seems that celebrities have common sense and know the value of doing what is right for their fans.