I feel very honored to be known as the “girl who writes plus-sized OFCs.” When I had the opportunity yesterday (April 29, 2017) to listen to Chrissy Metz speak, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see such an inspiring role model for body-positivity in person! Here’s my review of “A Conversation with Chrissy Metz.”
“Redefining what beautiful looks like.”
I think these words will echo in my ears for a long time, as spoken by the truly beautiful- inside and out- Chrissy Metz. You may not recognize her name, but if you watch This is Us, you know her. She is the plus-size actress who embodies the role of Kate Pearson in the NBC hit break-out show. If you are not on this bus, you are missing it. The story, set in the past and present, is some of the best TV I’ve seen in years. The writing is phenomenal and the story twists are sometimes a punch to the gut, but the reality of family life is like that… Have a box of Kleenex handy!
She was invited as part of the guest speaker series hosted by the University of Missouri. The event was offered free to students and $5 for admission by the public. The organization’s Facebook page ran a contest for a lucky pair to have dinner with her before, and many to attend a reception afterwards; sadly, I won neither, but after waiting in the cold and rain, I lucked out with front row center seats with my cousin! That was good enough for me!
The minute she graced the stage, you could tell her personality was larger than life. She was so excited to see a packed auditorium, but nervous about our weather. A tornado warning at 3 am had delayed her check in at the hotel and she was tired. She was worried we’d mock her attire, thinking she wasn’t dressed up enough for the “Hollywood lifestyle.” She looked fantastic in her tattered jeans and cute red sandals! She’d only brought one pair of shoes and didn’t want them ruined in the rain, so she told us about her mad dash to the “Walmarts” that morning to get a pair of “Wellies.”
She’s just like us!
We learned a little about her background from the student ambassadors who introduced her, learning she grew up in Florida, but spent nine years of her childhood in Japan, learning to speak Japanese before English. (“I don’t remember any of it; I can’t even English,” she joked.) and has five siblings. She was discovered at a talent show when she tagged along to chaperone her sister. Shortly after that, she moved to Hollywood, where she had roles in “My Name is Earl” and “American Horror Story.” She worked for years behind the scenes in Hollywood as an assistant to a casting director, watching as other women got the roles she wanted. Thanks to her spot on “This is Us,” Chrissy was recently named on People magazine’s list of “50 Most Beautiful People.”
A title she earned and deserves!
The “conversation” was moderated by a professor who works with patients with eating disorders. She very easily lead Chrissy from one topic to the next in our hour “chat” with the actress, guided by audience and Twitter questions.
From Chrissy, we learned she considers herself a ‘work in progress.’ She said at 36, (“I’m 36 y’all, can you believe it? I know; it’s crazy right?), she’s working on getting her life together. She told us not to believe everything you read in the tabloids, because she didn’t have a secret divorce. “It’s not a secret, I knew about it! I’ll tell you; just ask.” With the audience, she shared she is learning to love herself and working on making better choices. “I might not always be known as the ‘plus-sized actress.’”
She described it like this: every time something good happens, you have to place it in the ‘self-esteem bank.’ “That way you can remember those 150 nice things people said about you on Twitter and ignore that one mean thing.” She reminded us you can’t take everything personally, because you don’t know if the guy that accidentally rear-ends your car in the parking lot just had a fight with his significant other. She tells about how road rage used to be her “thing” and it was so bad, people would ride with her in the car just to watch her. “And then one day I realized that poor guy is just trying to get to work too; it’s not personal.” Later she reminds us of that when she shouts out to an audience member leaving the room, “Where you going? I’m not done! Oh, wait… Maybe he just needs the bathroom; I’ve been talking to long. See nothing personal. It’s not about me.”
She talked about the show, but said she’s not allowed to talk about Jack. She says Mandy Moore is just the sweetest thing. She spoke about how all the actors, writers and staff have a group chat. Just that morning, there were messages back and forth and Sterling K. Brown (Randall) was asking, “WHAT are you doing in Missouri?” and shared he’s from St. Louis and still has family there.
She told him she was hoping not to get swept away in a tornado or flood, “And I’ve been practicing this: MIZ” she shouts.
And the audience replies with a deafening roar, “ZOU!” (The school ‘battle cry.”)
“OH MY GOD! That’s the coolest thing! Wait till I tell him.”
When asked if she’s Team Jess, she looks at the moderator blankly. The audience shouts “Gilmore Girls,” and she says, “Is Jess his character? Then I’m Team Jess! I love Milo, even if he is my dad.”
There was playful banter as Chrissy and the moderator had spent time together during the day. The woman reported she’d never watched “This is Us,” and the audience was quick to ‘boo’ her and to shout out she’d want Kleenex. She pointed at her belly and said it was on her list to do during her maternity leave. Chrissy made sure not to give away too many spoilers, but was happy to announce the show is extended for two more seasons.
She talked about complaints that some of the things Kate goes through are stereotypical. But she reports, “I’ve said these things. I think these things.” After the second episode, she went to one of the head writers, and asked how he knew what was in the mind of a plus-sized woman and he shared he’s just writing things he’s seen his sister go through, and how her struggles affected the family. “He just gets it.” And she was triumphant with a fist in the air over the fact Kate now has TWO men after her!
“That just doesn’t happen in my life,” she laughed.
When asked if she was Kate’s friend, what advice she would give to the character, she admitted she would tell her to get out of her brother’s shadow; she’s too good just to be his assistant. “She needs to learn to stand on her own. I think we’ll see that in season two.”
In passing, she spoke about one of her favorite scenes, when Toby arranged for Kate to sing at the nursing home, and she let it slip her new boyfriend is one of the camera men on the show. He texted her that day and said he couldn’t watch her sing because he was too nervous for her. She told him that was the point of the scene, to feel Kate’s nervousness, which is why it was shot in one take.
She mentioned Toby should earn boyfriend of the year award, making all men in America hate him: “I know you hear me sing in the shower, why you don’t do something like that for me?”
Chrissy’s confidence and down home appeal was real; often slipping into a slight Southern drawl. She spoke about a new friend she met recently, “Oprah? Maybe y’all have heard of her? We’re friends.” She shares with the audience advice her new friend gave about always remembering to be nice to yourself first. Chrissy related it to the speech you get on a plane about the air masks, how you have to take care of yours first before you can take care of others. She said that’s something she has to remember daily, but reiterates she is a work in progress. Oprah also reminded her it’s okay to say NO when you need to. “And NO is a complete sentence,” Chrissy stated. “You don’t have to give a reason.”
She talked a bit about food and how as an Italian Irish German girl, food is love. Her grandmother would pick her up from school each day and make grilled cheese, and she would eat her emotions, when she was happy or sad. “When you don’t know how you feel, you eat.”
The beautiful actress spoke about how that now scares her. She shared a fear that although she’s looked at for being a big girl, “What if they don’t look at me when I get healthy, or lose weight?”
Before we knew it, our time was up. Sadly, it ended too quickly. She thanked us all for coming and waved her goodbyes before gracefully exiting the stage.
I discovered this event because I follow the Facebook pages over several universities around the state. If you are looking for great opportunities to try something new, that’s a wonderful place to start!
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