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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Rocky Love Obession

 Those of you who knew me back in high school probably remember me for about three things: First, I was a marching band geek who dedicated all of my free time to color guard and the clarinet. Second I was quite quirky, and goofy. Thirdly, and probably the most notable - I'm a HUGE Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson fan. I still remember the first time I saw the Rock in the ring. I'm going to sound like a fanatic here, but I totally got goosebumps.

If you've seen The Rock wrestle you know he's a showman. He entertains you with his humor, amazes you with his athleticism, and who can forget that amazing eyebrow thing he does ? My Rock obsession started off really small at first. I started watching WWF with my good friend Michelle, and at first it was just a few shows here and there. Then it turned into a full on habit. We started watching Raw and Smackdown every week, and we begged her mom to order the Pay-Per-View wrestling matches that costs $30 a month. Thankfully she did. We bonded over our common love of wrestling. And, we went all out. We made posters and signs for Pay-Per-View nights, and often find ourselves yelling at the T.V. screen when one of our guys lost.

I can't say my love for The Rock was like a school girl crush. I didn't love 'The Rock' the way I loved LLCOOL J or NSync. Those crushes were superficial soley based on looks. My love for The Rock was much deeper.  The Rock's character was so confident, charming, and strong so many things I wasn't in high school. And, watching him lay the smack down on his opponents in the ring made me want to face my own demons like the kids that picked on me or the insecurities that held me back as a teen. While The Rock didn't cure those things he sure got my mind off of them for a while.

I then started collecting and buying anything I could find with the Rock on it. Through magazine articles, and his book I learned more about the man behind the character. What I discovered made me love him more.

These are just a few
I finally collected enough Rock magazines and article clippings to put together this massive fan book.
It's filled with magazine articles I can't count how many.
The son of a black father and a Samoan mother Dwayne Johnson had big shoes to follow. His father Rocky Johnson ( hence the name) was a wrestler in the 1960's. But, Dwayne had dreams of playing in the NFL. He played for the Miami Hurricanes in college, and had a real shot of going pro until an injury sidelined those dreams.  But,  Dwayne didn't give up. He packed up and went to Canada to play for the Canadian Football League in hopes of getting into the NFL draft. After giving it all he had, Dwayne came back home to train as a professional wrestler. His drive sparked something in me to dig deep, and push harder for the things I wanted. He really was a big motivator for me in high school. I found it so admirable that he never gave up, on his dreams. And, when things didn't work out he picked himself up and tried again.

This blog wouldn't be complete without writing about the one time I got to see The Rock wrestle live in Richmond. It was by far one of the best days of my life. Me, my friend Michelle, her brother, and our chaperone had nose blood seats. But, that didn't matter I was just happy to be there. I can still remember the anticipation I felt waiting for him to come out. And, when his theme music came on, "If you smell what the Rock is cooking," I broke down in tears. Yes the hysterical fanatic cry. I could barely see him, but I felt so happy to be in the same building as the Rock, to breathe his air, and scream from the tops of lungs how much I loved him. Maybe he heard me in the noisy arena. If the Lord ever blesses me to meet him face to face I might have a heart attack.

I followed The Rock's career past wrestling as well. I mean seriously this man can do anything. He made a single with Wyclef Jean, had several rocking  appearances on SNL, and now he's doing his thing on the silver screen. Did I mention that Walking Tall is my favorite Rock movie? Or maybe Be Cool, or Tooth fairy. I've seen them. I can get quite loud watching a Rock movie, clapping, and squealing when he's on camera.

I have a Rock cutout at my parents house, a Rock wrestling eyebrow pad, a pair of Rock glasses, and I seriously thought about getting a tattoo of the Brahma Bull on my arm like he has. Thankfully I didn't.  I don't quite have the muscular build to make it look cool. And, I always carry a digital camera around in case I happen to have a Rock encounter. The chances of meeting The Rock in my current city is quite slim, but a girl has got to be prepared.

 I think a good celebrity love affair can be quite healthy. One reason we're drawn to celebrities is because they often have a personality trait, or strength we lack. As someone who struggled to be confident in her own skin in high school, it's no wonder I'm drawn to such a confident, charismatic celebrity. And, the fact that most celebrities start off as regular joes like you and me shows that big dreams are possible. After almost 10 years of this Rocky love affair I don't think it's something that will pass. My future husband will just have to live with my Rock love affair. And, he'll have to realize that the man with the chiseled body, raising eyebrow, and tattoos is a man who made me when laugh when I felt like crying... helped me believe in myself... and made me look at any obstacle and think "Just Bring It"  I mean who remembers how their role models made them feel as kid? The superheroes  who made us believe anything was possible, and  even when its tough the good guys really do win....  To the Rock - for the laughs... the excitement... the inspiration.. As your biggest fan I'm grateful!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Drive, My Inspiration

A few months ago I was asked to speak to a group of teenage girls about being a broadcast journalist. The organizers wanted me to share with the girls why I decided to enter the field of television, and hopefully inspire them to pursue their dreams.  I thought I'd share the words from my speech with all of you.
What I Want to Be When I Grow Up
I haven’t always wanted to be a reporter. When I was younger I wanted to be a child psychologist.  But, something changed my second year of college. I took a public speaking class, and it was the one class I actually leapt out of bed to attend. I liked my psychology classes, but I loved giving speeches and writing new stories each class. When the semester ended the professor asked if I had ever considered a career in broadcast journalism. The answer: I never thought being a television reporter was even an option for me. But, with her encouragement I quickly changed my major and fell in love with broadcast journalism.  I learned the incredible power journalism has to effect change, open people eyes, and provide a voice for the voiceless. 
But, getting a job in this business isn’t easy. I worked two jobs after college just to keep a part time job at a television station in Richmond. I worked as a production assistant, director, teleprompter operation, web producer, and feature writer at that station. After a year and a half of that I landed  a job in Lynchburg as a reporter.

What I love most about this job is having the opportunity to meet so many people like you and tell your stories.
My day typically starts off with a strong cup of coffee or at least two cups of tea. Most journalists drink coffee like water to keep going. Of all the newscasts morning news is my favorite. In the morning I watch snippets of  CNN,GMA, and the Today show to see what the big talking points of the day are. When I head into the office I check my emails to see if any contacts sent story ideas or comments on a story. I check stories from previous newscasts to see if there’s anything to follow up on. I try to read as many headline stories as I can,  and then I make beat calls.  From all of that I pick two or three solid stories I know I can develop that day and head to the morning meeting where we all discuss which stories to cover. For me morning meetings are probably one of the toughest parts of the day.
Once you’re done sweating, and discussing coverage for the day – the reporters head out to the field, gathering information with our photojournalists, often with no lunch breaks. It’s an interesting thing we do, one day we could be covering a house fire, or a story about Salvation Army, and another day we could be covering a story about the circus coming to town. And, then there's the deadline pressure. You have to get as much information as you can into a 1:20 story. And, get it all in before deadline. It can be challenging, but I think most journalists feed off of that adrenaline.
Even with all the work it took to become a reporter, my ambition didn’t go into overdrive until someone special in my life inspired me to dream big, bigger than I ever thought possible. The main reason I dove into this career path is my mother. She fought and beat breast cancer. And, her experiences showed me that life is precious. One day while she was going through chemotherapy she said something that still resonates with me everyday. And I hope it’s something you can identify with.
She said, “Lauren, I’ve waited so long to chase dreams, putting them off for another day or another year. I always told myself I would get back to them one day, but cancer has shown me you never know if you are going to get that day. So Lauren I want you to live. I want you do all the things you’ve put off doing, wear the dress you’ve been saving for a special day, and plan the trip you’ve always dreamt of, go for the job people say you can’t do."
And, I’m proud to say the reason I stand here today as a reporter is because I took my mom up on that challenge. I sent my resume into the job market with uncertainty, but even more determined  to keep pursuing this dream until it became reality.  My mother's cancer  is in remission, and each day I remember those words she said to me.
I would encourage you all to do the same thing. Chase every dream or endeavor you have no matter how out of reach it seems. Dreams are a snapshot of what God wants to bless you with if you only let Him – so I say to all of you take the chance.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why Good Girls Love Kim Kardashian

I just started reading the new book by the Kardashian sisters, Kardashian Konfidential. While it won't win any literary awards, if you're a fan of the Kardashians you'll love this inside look into their childhoods, and a closer look at the depths of their sometimes complicated sister relationships. I'm digging the book, I can barely put it down. My love for the Kardashian sisters is very interesting...  Consider this I could not stand Paris Hilton, a woman whose career pretty much began and ended with a sex tape unlike Ms. Kim Kardashian.

 Let's face it the whole reason we know Kim is because of a sex tape with by Brandy's brother Ray J. But what changed us from thinking she was another dolled up socialite making good on her sexed up 15 minutes of fame or shame ? Was it that Kim made us believe she was as embarrassed as most of us would be if something that intimate were released to the public? Or is it something more ?

Why I Think Good Girls Love the Kardashian
Here's the real reason I think good girls like myself like Kim and her brood. It's not just the flashy reality show. There's somethings the Kardashians have that I'm afraid the Hiltons did not, better fashion for one.... a lot more charm.. and each of them have the ability to connect with their fans on a level I'm afraid the Hilton  sisters could not. As a viewer you feel you know Khloe, Kim, and Kourtney. And, in a lot ways the sisters embody the many facets of most good girls. With Khole you understand and empathize with her self-esteem issues, and if you're like me you can understand what it's like standing in the shadow of pretty girls. In the book Khole opens up about being be third wheel to her two gorgeous sisters, and how she found the strength to find her own sense of beauty. Kourtney embodies the drive and ambition that so many woman can appreciate.  I mean the woman is the brain child behind three successful clothing stores. She's hardworking, and determined. Now if she could only use that drive to leave her boyfriend Scott.. And, with Kim I think good girls see the power of being comfortable in their own skin, that being sexy is nothing to be afraid of. I think Kim in all her confident struts, and ventures has given a lot of women their sexy back. You can't help but be drawn to her confidence, it's catchy. I hear women all the time say, "This is my Kim Kardashian look." A look that says yes I'm sexy and I know it.

And, in the show we discover that Kim though wildly rich and beautiful was like most of us good girls, unsure of her love life, a little silly at times, and willing to work for something she believed in. Most girls want to see a glimpse of themselves in their favorite stars.. and Kim tapped into something in us... something that felt familiar ..... like Kim really was one of the girls.

Kim reminded us again that it was OK to be proud of our womanliness -curves and all. She let all of us with crazy families breathe easy - hers is much crazier. And, with her openness  we began to feel as if we knew her ( i admit i follow her on twitter... don't judge me)

We love Kim for a lot of the same reasons we love L.C from the Hills - even though she's lived a life most of us can only dream of - there's something that feels authentic and real about her.... and she makes us all feel confident in flaunting our sexy ... and for most good girls... the idea of flaunting the sexy with no shame.. is very powerful.....