Being in the city of love, I can easily to say I fell head over heels for Paris. Paris has just always been a city I have been longing to visit. I admire the whole aesthetic and culture of the Parisian lifestyle, as well as the french language. For me, it is still quite extraordinary to just simply utter the words “I went to Paris” for the weekend. I am not sure how many people at the age of 20 can say they had this kind opportunity to travel. That being said, I am extremely lucky and grateful.
Day 1: Arriving at Charles De Gaulle Airport
In order to get the complete “French” experience, I flew from Heathrow and jetted off to Paris with Air France. From the flight on I began to hear French more and more frequently. That is when it began to hit me that I was actually going to Paris! The flight to Paris was quite nice, I actually slept all the way through it since I had gotten zero sleep the night before. I never realized how quick of it flight it was from London to Paris. Before I knew it I was finally off the plane and in line for immigration (which took forever).
Welcome to the City of Lights
Normally I prefer arriving at my destination during the day, however there was something magical about seeing Paris at the night. I mean, I was driving directly into the city of lights at night. The best part is our uber driver drove us directly under the lit up Eiffel Tower. It was quite stunning, I am not even in Paris for an hour and i’m already seeing one of the most beautiful landmarks in the world.
Of course, I would be lying if I said the rest of my first night in Paris was as glamorous as Iv’e made it sound thus far. After the uber dropped me off near my airbnb, I met the host who would be giving me the keys to my flat. The host was extremely nice, she even gave me the classic European greeting a kiss on both cheeks. However, the flat itself, not so nice. A word of caution my friends, when looking for a flat to stay in Paris be aware you will be climbing endless flights of stairs, in my case it was seven. As we finally reached the door to the flat, she opened up to reveal a room with a sofa bed and a shower inside that actually room with clear doors and no curtain. The pictures of the flat itself were completely misleading when I look back on it, I was unpleasantly surprised. However, I was not going to let a crappy airbnb ruin my weekend, after all I am in Paris.
Day 2: Exploration de Paris
One restless night of sleep and a seven flights of stairs down and I was finally outside to enjoy my first full day in Paris. The weather was beautiful and day was off to a good start. While my friend who I was staying with took a shower, I decided to go to a local “boulangerie” around the corner. I have to say I impressed myself when I broke out the minimal French I knew to order a delicious brownie. Surprisingly you can get quite far in Paris with “Je voudrais,” (I would like) “oui,” (yes) “merci” (Thank you), and of course my favourite, “parlez vous anglais” (Do you speak english?).
My journey to going to the BAFTAs red carpet, all began when I found out that I would be studying abroad in London for my 2017 Spring semester at Temple University. As I did some research a few months prior to landing in London, the thought crossed my mind that I would be in London during award season. Immediately I looked up the British Academy of Film Awards to see when the exact dates were and to my satisfaction, the awards were going to be taking place in February. To make things even better, the awards would be taking place at Royal Albert Hall, just around the corner from my flat in Kensington. After landing in London, I stuck to my plan to get a wristband to attend the red carpet ceremony.
Fast forward to February 10th, The weekend of the BAFTA’s has finally arrived. Before I can get to the exciting part, I should probably talk about the grueling yet rewarding experience I went through in order to obtain the BAFTA red carpet wristband. My Friday typically begins with my 9:00 AM class I have until 12:00 PM so I expected to come home and unwind and plan for lining up for the BAFTAs the following day. I figured it would still be beneficial if I checked out the spot we would be lining up at the day before we receive the wristbands. To my surprise, people were already lined up and camping outside. Only then would I realize this would be an overnight affair. Despite never camping out in line for anything I claimed my spot around 12:30 PM. In order to stay motivated, I kept having to remind myself that this would be an opportunity of a lifetime, and to give it up would be pointless. Waiting in line was not so bad….yet (more on that later). I had my fellow Temple Owls, Abby Markle and Alexa Ross joining me so I was not alone. The interesting thing about having to camp out in line is the fact that it brings people together from all walks of life who share a common love for film and the arts. I made some wonderful new friends Tanja and Sacha from the Netherlands and Kisa from London.
Tanja and Sacha, and Kisa gave me some great tips on roughing it outside in the cold for the next 24 hours since they have already done it before. Of course with my luck, it happened to be the coldest day in London. It was cold it even began to flurry! In order to stay warm all night, I ran home to change into multiple layers of clothing. Time was moving slower than ever at this point. In order to pass the time I listened to my beats, talked to my new friends, and even ordered some pizza (which tasted awful) and had it delivered to us on the corner of the sidewalk.
After awhile, I realized that I was in dire need of sleep. My sleeping arrangement consisted of a blanket, a pillow, and of course some cardboard as my bed. Between the cold and my sleeping arrangement, I have never been more uncomfortable in my life. If sleeping outside taught me anything, it’s that I should appreciate that I have a home and a place to sleep at night. Despite the immense discomfort, I did manage to get about three hours of sleep. Finally, the painful part was over, because when I woke up they were getting ready to hand out the wristbands. Considering I camped out all night it was great to know I would be receiving a wristband that was numbered in double digits. I was number 55 to enter the Red Carpet the next day. Even though I walked back to the flat feeling physically defeated, receiving that red plastic wristband reminded me that I have conquered!
The day has finally arrived, BAFTA day is here!!! I am never one to wake up early, but with all my excitement bottled up inside, I sprung out of bed at 7:45 AM. Since we did not have to be in line until noon, Alexa, Abby and I decided to take the morning easy and grab some great breakfast baguettes to start off the day. The weather was cold but nothing like the night before. I definitely decided to look much more presentable and was less bundled up. I was too excited to let the weather affect me. After all, I was about to set foot on the red carpet to see some of my favorite actors and directors. It finally really hit me as started walking into the pens to stand behind the carpet. I managed to get a front row spot toward where all the stars would be entering. Staring at the carpet and waiting for the festivities to commence made me play endless scenarios of stars appearing in front of me in my head. While I waited I also found myself spectating the media set up along the carpet, hoping I would be in their shoes one day interviewing and covering events such as the BAFTAs.
Unlike waiting for the BAFTA wristbands, time seemed to be moving much quicker. It did not feel like I was waiting hours for the stars to arrive. I was occupied by great company and excitement. I even got interviewed by Australian TV and CNN international, giving my opinion as to who will win big tonight, (I said Emma Stone and La La Land). After some more waiting, the red carpet was finally set and ready to go. Before the stars began to walk along, we were met by a wonderful performance by Cirque Du Soleil. I have to say it was a great way to kick off the Red Carpet. Shortly after, the carpet began to flood with numerous stars, crew, and directors. The first huge star to arrive was the Best Actress nominee, Viola Davis. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I yelled “Viola Viola Viola.” She was very humble and did sign autographs and snap a few selfies but was shortly whisked away to the press. After Viola appeared, more and more celebrities came our way.
I couldn’t decide whether I wanted autographs or pictures as the stars began to approach. The next star to come close to us was Bryce Dallas Howard. Bryce is not only a great actress but one of the most lovely Hollywood redheads to grace the screen in recent years. Unfortunately, she got whisked away quickly by her publicist before she could make it our way. Nonetheless, it was still so thrilling to see her so close up (she was beautiful). The night was still young and there were still dozens of stars to see and meet. The first star I met was Anya Taylor-Joy from Split. Anya looked like a real life princess, in her light blue studded gown. To top it all off, she was so gracious. After Anya signed my book, she told me she liked my beret! At this point, I was on cloud nine, and there was no way I was coming back.
Before I knew it I had received an autograph from Luke Evans, and a selfie with Aaron Taylor Jones. All of a sudden, my heart stopped as a spotted a small man in a white suit jacket. It was none other than the incomparable Eddie Redmayne, one of my all time favorite actors. Eddie was so sweet and charming as he approached he even took the time to take pictures and autographs with everyone. When Eddie got to me I was so nervous, I asked him if he could take a selfie with my phone and the camera flipped to the wrong side. It was quite adorable and funny as he continued to fidget with it and muttered “oh $h*!,” Meeting Eddie had to be my favorite moment of the night.
There were many stars I did get to get pictures with and ones I didn’t. Sometimes the most exciting moments are not necessarily the ones captured on film. Getting to see the likes of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant were quite daunting as I have admired their work for a long time. But getting direct eye contact from Meryl Streep who waved and blew us a kiss was quite magical. The small yet subtle interactions made between stars and their fans speaks volumes. Getting a smile from Lin-Manuel Miranda and a wave and smile from Amy Adams was enough to make me happy. Seeing my favorite celebrity couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski was also so lovely. They were both so kind taking time to sign autographs and greet their fans. Finally, the night ended with a lovely surprise from Emma Stone, who quickly greeted us and signed autographs despite being in a rush. She was so beautiful and genuinely nice. I am so proud to have been able to get her autograph.
The road to the BAFTA’s Red Carpet was a spectacular journey. I wouldn’t change anything about it. If this journey has taught me anything, it’s that pure drive and determination will get you to the places you want to be. And with that in mind, I will continue to work toward my career in Journalism. I hope I will see the BAFTAs in person again, but next time as a member of the press.