The other day I had the honor of attending a private screening of the movie Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay and starring Oprah. My vlogger boo, Charity Jordan has a featured role in the film, and she invited me to come out and support her work. It was a great event and an awesome, must-see film. Upon my return home, I called my 16 year old niece to tell her all about the shindig. She always gets a kick out of these things! Her response was “Wow Auntie! How do you know so many famous people?!” I laughed and replied… “people are people, I meet ‘em, I like ‘em and I keep in touch with them. Some are famous, some are not, but I treat them all like regular peeps.”
“People are people” is a sentiment that my parents instilled in me when I was a very young child growing up in Macon, GA. And although I’ve been living in Metro Atlanta for nearly 20 years now, and traveled the world meeting all sorts of famous and noteworthy folks, I have never shifted my mindset when it comes to making human connections.
I suppose my approach to building connections starts with my “everybody counts” mentality. I greet the administrative assistant with the same enthusiasm as the company CEO. I cracked jokes with elementary school buddies just the same as I did comedienne Kim Coles. What can I say, I’m just a down to earth, around the way girl, and my parents are 100% responsible for that.
You’d have to know my parents to understand what I mean when I say there were absolutely NO highfalutin folks hanging around our house. You see, my Pops is a southern, slow talking farm boy from Dublin, Georgia who wouldn’t rush to do ANYTHING even if his shoes were on fire. Imagine my surprise when I heard from family friends and relatives that dear ole Dad was a quite the local celebrity in night clubs back in the day. This was mostly due to his skills on the dance floor which won him several jitterbug competitions, and a full dance card. But it was also because he played the guitar for a popular local band.
And Mom was a moxie southern belle from Milledgeville, Georgia who’s passion for photography often got us back stage access to celebs that passed through town. Most times we were granted access because Mom always managed to look “official”, other times it was because she happened to actually know the notable entertainer (or some of their relatives at the least).
Because of who my parents were, I was always surrounded by people who were deemed famous, but as a kid, I didn’t know that. To me there were just my parents “friends”, folks we visited when they passed through town. My parents never made a big deal of any of it.
It was only when my parents had dinner parties and Dad would tell stories and Mom would pull out photo albums that I started to understand that my parents “friends” were impressive to our guests. These high profile “friends” of the family laughed at my Dad’s jokes and told him stories in return. They complimented my Mom’s cooking and posed for photos at her request. My parents simply treated them like every day people.
In fact, I didn’t see my parents treat these friends any differently from the way they treated “Red” the neighborhood outcast who my parents often gave a ride to church. Or Miss C, who was often shunned for her missing teeth. These folks and any number of misfits were all welcomed in our home just the same as celebrities.
I suppose it was in those early years that I learned from my parents to look at a person’s character rather than their accomplishments. It was during my childhood when I realized that “people are people” and to treat everyone as if they matter.
I’m UBER excited that Wells Fargo asked me to join these other amazing folks (click to watch the videos) in the #MyUntold Story campaign to share a little bit of my soul with you, and I’m honored that you took the time to read it. I would love to do the same in return, so please share with me some principle, tradition or heirloom that has been passed from one generation to another with your family. Do you have a family recipe or quilt? Do you have a tradition or song that has enriched your heritage. I’d love to hear your story. Just make sure to tag me and Wells Fargo and use the hashtag #MyUntold.