Selfie with Kerry Washington, Met the Bloggess and More: My BlogHer 2014 Recap
BlogHer 2014 was my 5th one in 6 years and it might be the most memorable one yet. This was also he 4th one where I was speaking. It was also my first time in San Jose. It celebrated BlogHer’s 10th anniversary so it made sense that this had to be the most epic one they’ve had.
I picked up my badge and headed to the EPPA party, where sangria was flowing, food was everywhere and I ran into some of the homies (like Justice Fergie, Anu Prestonia and more). I ate, drank, took selfies with folks and had a great time. That party was a good start to 3 days of celebration. I also connected with my 2 favorite Frans (Chescaleigh and Hey Fran Hey) and took a pic with Lisa Stone (one of the founders of BlogHer).
Day 1 of BlogHer kicked off with a welcome from the BlogHer founders (Elisa Camahort Page, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins), 2 10×10 project speakers and a keynote by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess), who I’ve been a fan of for YEARS! I’ve actually used her blog in presentations I give as an example of someone whose voice is distinctive and awesome. She was interviewed by Jory, and she had the room rolling. I loved it! When it was time for Q&A, I was the first one who asked a question. My query was “Is the red dress you’re wearing an homage to the traveling red dress you had?” And it was!
Other stuff that happened: I took a pledge with the Timeline Project, encouraged by my girl Chesca, that I will publish my book by the age of 30. This means I have 1.5 years to make that happen (whew). I met tech OG Guy Kawasaki and I gave a Geek Bar presentation on WordPress Plugins (in case you missed it, you can read my post on 5 WordPress Plugins Every Site Should Have). And then the Voices of the Year readings blew me away. A’Driane Nieves’ “America is not here for us” had me and Kelly Wickham (aka MochaMomma) on our feet clapping. SHE. DID. THAT. Go read it.
Feminista Jones, BlogHer’s relationship and sex editor had the idea of bringing together the Black Bloggers at the conference for an informal gathering. Word spread through Twitter and it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the conference. About 40 of us met at the Hilton bar for an hour and a half, introduced ourselves, said what we do and gave each other tips on moving forward and upward.
It was empowering, inspiring and something that I hope becomes formal for future conferences. Being in that space let us all know how necessary it was. The fellowship of brown and black women was powerful. Many of the Black women at the conference missed it though, because they didn’t know about it. Imagine if we were all there.
The evening ended up with dinner with the Microsoft team. Not even the fact that one of my Samsung Galazy S4s shattered like mosaic tiles when it dropped face don on concrete could kill my vibe. It was a good day.
Day 2 of BlogHer was the BIG DAY! Beforehand, I met with MochaMomma and the Bloggess. I love how casual I just said that. I MET THE BLOGGESS!!! Apparently, she’s a fan too. Within seconds of meeting, we were already cracking each other up. She is just as I imagined: Awesome.
The day was winning already. Then I showed up to the Grand Ballroom at the San Jose Convention Center and was taken backstage to prepare for my 10×10 talk. Elisa met me and went “Kerry’s here. Want me to introduce you now?” Me: “Yes please!”
So I go to the backstage that was backstage, where Kerry Washington was talking to my girl Demetria Lucas of A Belle in Brooklyn (who was going to be interviewing her). Internally, I was like “OMG OMG OMG” but I kept my cool. Elisa takes me over and we shake hands and I told her I think she’s amazing. I can’t remember what she said to me but I just remember her being super nice and gracious and I was like “OMG OMG OMG” on the inside.
Demetria was like “She’s being humble. She’s your biggest fan.” Kerry remembered that we’d met before (YES WE HAVE! 2 Years ago at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon). She told me that my caftan was beautiful. I LIVE. I forget the rest of our convo because I was in my head like JD from Scrubs. We did talk about ashiness and how California water was softer than everywhere else. I remember that. HA!
Anywho, the tech guys mic’ed me up and I went over some of my speech again. Demetria told me “Don’t be nervous. You’re a gladiator!” and Kerry nodded and I was like EEEEEEEEE!!!
Thennn Demetria and Kerry took fierce selfies and then me and Kerry took one.
The Mrs. band performed on stage and then Morra Aarons-Mele went up and slayed her 10×10 talk. I was on standby and had 2 minutes to go when I was told that they had to move Kerry’s keynote to before my talk because she had to leave earlier. Hey, business/life calls!
Demetria wrote all about the keynote with Kerry. Check out A Belle in BK’s site for the synopsis. Cliffnotes: It rocked! She asked her questions about being a public figure who still maintains private boundaries, about her activism, about Scandal. I’m a fan of hers not just because of the Olivia Pope thing but because people who use their platforms to elevate others and talk about what’s important are heroes.
Plus, I subscribe to her ideal of shutting off her family from public scrutiny, and never inviting people into her relationships. I am ALLLLL about that. What is there not to love?
“Sometimes I tweet about my parents because I can’t resist. I do tweet about my dog but not my marriage or my kids. As an actor, I feel like it’s harder to lose yourself in my work if you know too much about me. You may have to do a little more work as an audience member to dive into my relationship with my coworkers. I like to keep my life a mystery so you can enjoy the story more.” – Kerry Washington
When they got off stage, Kerry told me to rock my talk. And then we took one more picture together and hugged.
My heart sang because Kerry Washington is everything you can expect her to be. Smart, incredibly grounded and really kind. She’s basically a unicorn.
Afterwards, Demetria told me that before I got backstage to even meet her, Kerry let her know that she reads my recaps and was looking forward to meeting me. EEEE!!! BlogHer’s founders told me the same thing. They were like “Do you know she reads your blogs?” WELL I DO NOW! So awesome. I live.
— Demetria Lucas (@abelleinbk) July 27, 2014
So on to my talk. The subject was about how you can be awesomely authentic online and how I’ve managed to use my voice to get me to where I am.
I was nervous when I stepped on stage with my iPad mini (that had notes) and my clicker didn’t work so they had to get me a new one. I looked in the audience and the room was half empty (Khloe Kardashian was in the expo hall. I can’t compete with that) but I saw my people in the front and I was good.
Then I started talking and I got in my groove and I killed it. People were cracking up, but most importantly, they got what I was saying!
11 minutes later, I stepped off the stage and high-fived Elisa. I am not sure what I was worried about but I did what I wanted to do and I did it well. I checked Twitter and my mentions had gone NUTS! So much love! Folks came up to me afterwards to give more props. Apparently, many almost peed their pants. That is an ultimate compliment, if I ever heard one. SCORE!
I think video of it will be up in a couple of weeks on BlogHer’s site.
If it’s posted, I’ll post it here too. You can see the tweets about my talk on Storify!
Anywho, the day ended with BlogHer’s #McDBlogHer party, sponsored by McDonalds. It was THE BEST PARTY EVER!!! OMG! Rev Run performed and has us rocking to old school jams for 2 hours. Yall should have seen the turn up that happened. The party was outside in a parking lot and San Jose weather was perfect. I came out my caftan into a racerback tank and got my entire life.
When the Rev was done, DJ Rashida took over and we did the wobble, the electric slide and showed out in other ways. After that was done, somehow we ended up singing Joyful Joyful and had a gospel jam session because: Black folks. My partners in crime were Natasha Nicholes, Jasmine Banks, A’Driane Nieves, Grace Sandra, Arnebya Herndon while Kelly Wickham took video of us. There may or may not be a vid of me on Instagram doing a church scoot. Lawd.
2 days later, my body still hurts. My shins. MY SHINS HURT! HOW?!? It was all worth it, though. We had A BLAST! BEST. PARTY. EVER. We had to let the McDonald’s man know how epic it was. What an epic closeout to BlogHer’s 10th birthday celebration?
How I’m remembering everything is I’m going through my Instagram account and the pics in my phone. I didn’t post MOST pics I took, actually.
This conference experience was especially affirming for me. Basically, my lesson is that I continue to underestimate myself and I don’t have a right to. I know I’m dope but I need to KNOW I’m dope.
I met so many great people, reconnected with many homies and I wish I could name everyone but I can’t. You know who you are! If we shared hugs, high fives and hella squeals, you were part of the reason why the weekend was so epic. Thank you!
Congrats to BlogHer for 10 years of creating necessary space for women who love words, who live through words and who are saved through them. I am honored to have been a part of this great conference, and amongst great company in the 10×10 project.
Onwards and upwards, my peoples.