The Coolest Small Talk I Ever Had to Make

Photo of Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams Perform "Blackbird" at the Belasco Theatre in New York City, Take by Ayonna Lee

Flashback to a freezing cold April night in NYC, April 2016. Imagine scurrying across the hustle and bustle of the crowded Broadway street holding hands with your sister. It’s your first time being unleashed in the greatest city in the world.

For a second you imagine what it would be like to skip the show your parents paid outrages amounts for you to see and just go explore. For a second you get lost in the dreams you nurture of living here someday. It’s easy to dream but its also easy to remember this freedom is limited.

The parents are in the car right down the street, they probably have Binoculars & they’re definitely worried. So, instead of straying from the very strict plan, you escape the cold into the beautiful Belasco Theatre. Tonight, you are here to see that remarkably talented actor who gave that groundbreaking “America is Not the Greatest Country in the World” speech in that Aaron Sorkin show on HBO.

You’re here to see that Actress from Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain, and Manchester By the Sea. Oh, STOP IT! You know who these people are and you were freaking excited to see them. The One-Act Play is David Harrower’s “BlackBird” and you fell in love with the idea of seeing it live when Jeff Daniels talked about it on Good Morning America a month prior.

You had just come off an entire month of binge-watching “The Newsroom” and obsessing over it. Jeff just happened to be on TV one of the rare mornings where you were actually awake in time to watch GMA. “It’s FATE!” you thought to yourself so you pulled some strings with your parents and made the tiny trip to NYC happen.

That was the way it all happened. The show went on and I felt very lucky and privileged to watch it live. After, we waited by the stage door for the cast to come out and sign playbills. When Michelle Williams came out I have to admit, I was indeed starstruck. At that moment, I was afraid to say anything at all. I mean, these are people I want to work with someday!

Michelle Williams Greeting Fans Outside of the Belasco Theatre on Broadway in New York City, April 2016. Photo Taken by photographer, Ayonna Lee.

Michelle Williams looked at me and I murmured the first thing that came to mind “You were Amazing tonight!” and she (Michelle Williams!) looked me right in the eyes and said, “Thank You, Very Much”. She signed my playbill. Of course, my anxiety kicked my ass for months after that. I kept thinking “You’re an aspiring actress! You should have said more! You should have asked the right questions.”

I said what I could at that moment and then I waited for Jeff Daniels. When Jeff came out of the door it was like seeing someone step out of your dreams and suddenly they’re in real life. I had just seen Jeff and Michelle on stage, we spent the better part of 2 hours together breathing the same air, sharing the same space, but this was different.  He was trying to talk to everyone and sign everyone’s playbill. I don’t know why this took me by surprise but Jeff, from what I can tell…he’s a very charismatic conversationalist, in other words… he’s exceptionally likable.

When he approached me holding his hand out for my playbill I was frozen. I don’t know why I was so nervous but I was practically blank! So blank in fact that my sister, who hadn’t even watched the Newsroom at the time said: “You were awesome in ‘The Newsroom’ you were my favorite character.” (She had my back!) He joked lightly saying “Imagine what we could do with Trump”.

Jeff Daniels Greeting Fans Outside of the Belasco Theatre on Broadway in New York City, April 2016. Photo Taken by photographer, Ayonna Lee.

It was the coolest small talk I ever had to make and when he was done signing playbills he waved goodbye, hopped into a dark car, and drove off. Part me obviously imagined what it would be like if Jeff and I hit it off and instantly became friends and instead of driving off alone, he’d invite me to his favorite cafe to experience New York City’s best coffee, maybe he’d invite me back to his uber-chic apartment and he’d play me music with his acoustic guitar. I’m a dreamer, what can I say?

Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams are two people who have inspired me for a very long time. I’ve grown up watching them on screen and to see them live was wonderful!  I’m just happy the night went well. Sometimes life throws you signs, if you catch them and listen to them you could end up having experiences you never thought you’d have. Who knows what you’ll experience? who knows who you’ll meet? the possibilities are endless.

Jeff Daniels Greeting Fans Outside of the Belasco Theatre on Broadway in New York City, April 2016. Photo Taken by photographer, Ayonna of the playbill for "Blackbird" starring Jeff Daniels taken by, Ayonna Lee

Watch the Vlog – Meeting Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams


Check Out: Two Days In New York City