I thought it would be cool to share with you an amazing experience I had a few months ago.
(Sorry in advance for how long this is 😅)
A couple years ago, I signed up to be an official seat filler with a company called Seatfillers & More, that handle audiences for a few events and award shows. Initially I signed up on the site so I could be a seat filler for the BET Awards or be in the mosh pit for the award show. Unfortunately I wasn’t chosen for either, but I was able to get exclusive access to a rehearsal for the award show. I was able to watch Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly rehearse their performance for the show which was so surreal, but that’s not the experience I wanted to talk about haha.
SO around the end of November last year, I received an email from Seatfillers & More asking if I wanted to sign up for a chance to be a seat filler for the NAACP Award Show. The show was taking place in Pasadena, CA which is only about a 6 hour drive or a short flight away so I thought “Hey, why not 🤷🏾♀️”. I thought the chances of me actually being chosen were slim to none but you miss out on 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. I think that’s how that saying goes 🤔 haha.
About two months later, I got an email from Seatfillers & More. I didn’t think twice about it before I opened it because I usually get an email from them every once in awhile talking about different award shows they need seat fillers for. When I opened it I was shocked that it was an actual invitation for me and a guest to attend the show! I was soooo excited BUT also very stressed. See, when they ask you to be a seat filler, they usually ask you a week or a few days before the actual show… and ya girl was not prepared. I had to find a dress for the show which had specific guidelines on what seat fillers were allowed to wear, a place to stay for the night, and I had to figure out what in the world I was gonna do with my hair.
It was crunch time and I was determined to make it to the show. I decided to take my brother as my plus one and he was too excited. Like WAY too excited 😂. My friends who live in LA were able to let us spend the night in their studio thankfully (shout out Hector & Chaz 🙌🏽). And I was able to find an inexpensive dress that fit within the dress code.
When you are a seatfiller for an award show you have to get to the venue hours before the actual award show starts. The reason for this is because you have to find parking, check-in for the show, and go through security and a dress code check. There is also a long list of rules that need to be gone over with all the seatfillers.
Some of the rules were:
- Do not talk to any of the celebrities unless they talk to you first.
- If someone from the crew or a celebrity tells you to move from your seat YOU MOVE. No questions.
- No pictures AT ALL. That includes pictures of the show or with any of the celebrities.
- No walking around while the show is being taped. If we needed to use the bathroom we could get up during intermission but that means our seat would be filled by the time we got back.
There were a few more rules but these were the main ones that were stressed to us.
After we went through all the precautions, they had all of the seatfillers wait in a line outside of the venue before the show started. We waited in that line FOREVER. It was probably a good three hours before they let us into the venue. This was torture on my feet because ya girl has flat feet and was in heels. Standing… for three hours… in heels… with flat feet… enough said.
While we were waiting to get into the venue, a few celebrities did pass by us and stop to take pictures. Some of the celebrities were Yara Shahidi, Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, Lavern Cox, and the host himself, Anthony Anderson.
The process of being placed in a seat is very quick and frantic. They put the seatfillers in seats about five minutes before the show actually starts. That’s because they have to make sure all the celebrities are in their seats first before they bring us in. When they finally brought us into the theater, they first had me and my brother go all the way to the front of the venue. I started to freak out internally at this point because all of the A- list celebrities sit in the first couple of rows. The crew instructed me to go into the second row to fill in a seat and as I tried to do so the woman on the end would not get up no matter how many times I said excuse me. The crew kept yelling at me to go but she wouldn’t move. I didn’t see who the person was because I was too busy trying to get to my seat, but all I know is that she was an older woman. The crew then instructed me to go around to the other side of the row to get to the seat. When I finally sat down, I took a look to see who was sitting at the end of the aisle and it was none other than Loretta Devine!! For those who don’t know who she is, here’s a picture haha.
I understood why she wouldn’t get up now. I mean she is Loretta Devine, the original Dream Girl herself! (But it was also a little rude too, not gonna lie. She could’ve said something to me but who am I but a peasant 😂 jk).
As we settled into our seats, I took a look around to check out my surroundings. When I looked to see who was sitting directly in front of me, I swear my heart stopped… HALLE BERRY WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!! And she was STUNNING! My brother turned to me and said, “Amber, I never understood why people are always raving about Halle Berry… I get it.”. I started laughing so hard and then all of a sudden a man looked at me and said, “I need you to get up”. I was caught SO off guard and also freaking out because the show started in 1 minute and I didn’t have a seat anymore. I saw an empty seat and I started to go for it but the person next to it motioned not sit in it, at least I thought. I started to look for a new seat but the person then told me to come back and sit in the chair. As I sat down, I looked at the woman and it was Loni Love from The Real Daytime! My hands started to shake slightly because my body was in shock haha.
I finally thought I was safe in my seat, but I thought wrong. The crew was running frantic trying to get everyone in their seats still and the show was about to start any second. All of a sudden, the older son from Black-Ish was in the aisle still trying to find his seat. Loni looked at me and said, “Sorry honey, do you mind getting up so he can have a seat?” I was stressed inside but I said sure and got up. One of the crew members saw me standing in the aisle still and brought me to a seat to fill in the last second. I felt like I was being shoved into the row and I told the guy at the end I was sorry and he got up and let me through. I looked to see who was next to me and it was Josh Gad! *Inserts Picture* lol
For the rest of the show I sat in that seat, which is rare for seatfillers because they usually have you move seats a few times throughout the show, they told us. I’m glad all of my moving was done before the show started so I could actually sit and enjoy the experience haha.
There was a girl who was the girlfriend of a celebrity, I won’t say who, that was trying to get me to leave my seat because she just wanted to sit in the front. She seemed like some irrelevant Love and Hip Hop girl and everyone around her was annoyed with her because she kept recording and taking pictures of the whole show. Security handled her so I was all good lol.
Some of the people sitting around me were the cast of This Is Us, which included Sterling K Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Mandy Moore. Oh! When my brother and I were first getting to our seats, my brother put his hand on a woman’s back asking her to excuse him which happened to be Mandy Moore. When he realized who it was he turned to me and said ,” AMBER I just touched Mandy Moore’s supple back!” LOL
Other stars around me were Common, the cast of Black Panther, the cast of Power, the cast of Black-Ish and Micheal B. Jordan *faints* 😩
After the award show, I went to go find my brother because I noticed he wasn’t sitting in his original seat where I had left him earlier. I ended up finding him and he told me about his experience which ended in him signing up for the NAACP organization (😂 only him).
As we were exiting the venue, we noticed that there was an after party happening next door. It was very exclusive and only people with a special ticket were allowed to get in. We decided we were gonna try to sneak into the party lol. What was the worst that could happen right 🤷🏾♀️
Our first attempt at sneaking in was a complete fail hahaha. We told the crew working the doors that we lost our tickets to get in but they weren’t buying it at all.
Attempt #2 was to try and sneak in through a side door. There was security at every door so that wasn’t going to work.
Third times the charm right? As we were giving up hope, we ran into a girl who we had met in the seatfillers line. She told us that her friend was working the after party and was going to get her in. We asked her if her friend would be able to get us in too and she told us she would try. After waiting around for awhile, her friend finally came to get us. As we got to her she told us she would only be able to get her friend in because she didn’t want to make it seem to suspicious. I understood because it was her job on the line after all.
My brother and I decided to just sit on the wall and wait to see if anything would happen. A lot of celebrities were walking by us to get in and out of the party which included Ava DuVernay who had just won the Entertainer of the Year award, and Danny Glover who won the President’s Award.
Time was going by and we were still not in the after party. I was hungry, cold, my feet hurt, and I was ready to give up. My brother on the other hand still believed we had a chance of getting in. More time went by and a man and woman leaving the party came and sat next to us. I didn’t recognize who they were and neither did my brother. One thing we did recognize was that the guy was very drunk lol. Bill Bellamy walked out of the party and the man walked over to him and started joking and clowning with him. They seemed like they knew each other though. A different woman sitting next to us told us she knew who the guy was personally and walked over to him and asked him if he remembered her. He started to clown her too and acted like he remembered her but we could tell he didn’t. The man then walked over to us, started talking to us about the situation and joking around with us like he knew us. I think the woman that was with him was his assistant because she came over to us and told him that his uber was ready and looked very official. As they were walking away, my brother asked them if they had extra tickets to the after party because we “lost” ours. The man said they didn’t but he felt really bad for us and gave us his all access pass and the girl gave us her red carpet pass. He told us to see if we could get in with those passes. We said thanks and he drunkingly walked away haha. We saw that his name was Isaiah Washington, which sounded so familiar to me but I couldn’t think of where I had heard that name before. So I looked him up and realized he played Burke on Grey’s Anatomy! (one of my favorite shows).
So we had these passes and my brother and I were trying to think of a way to use them to get into the party. We noticed there was a security guard letting people in through one of the side entrances so we decided to go try our luck. We went to the door and flashed our passes really quick and the guy opened the door and said, “I’m not supposed to let you in this way but you guys can come in”… and just like that, WE WERE IN!
After everything we went through, we finally got in and the first thing we did was head to the bar 😂 . We walked to the main room of the party, and there were sooooo many celebrities in the room talking, dancing, and taking pictures. The little kids from This Is Us and Black-Ish were running around with each other. Casts from the shows, Insecure, Power, Black-Ish, and This Is Us were all in VIP chilling and taking videos with one another. I felt so out of place, it was crazy lol.
As we walked around the party, we ran into the girl we met in the seat-fillers line and hung out with her for most of the party. Waiters started giving us free food and drinks (because they probably thought we were somebodies haha) and we decided to go mingle with people. We then went to the dance floor, and as I looked up to see who was djing the party, I saw MC Lyte…. MC Lyte was djing the party…. WAS THIS REAL LIFE!?
We were only at the party for maybe an hour and a half, but it was definitely a good time! My brother was able to network with some of the people he met and I took a picture with Dro from Insecure. It was a win-win 😏😂👌🏾
(He makes me look like a little person in this photo 😂😭😂)
Overall, the experience of being a seat-filler was one I’ll never forget. There were some rough parts like standing in lines and waiting for long periods of time but the memories def outweigh all of that! It was such an out of body experience being surrounded by so much Black Excellence in one room, especially on MLK Day ✊🏾.
Well, I hope you guys enjoyed reading about my seat-filler experience and congrats to you if you read this entire long winded post 😂. Sorry, I’m a very detailed person 🤷🏾♀️
If anyone is interested in becoming a seatfiller, here’s a link to the website I signed up on 😊