Being friends with a celebrity is something the majority of people on this planet will never be. That doesn’t make it an accomplishment and it doesn’t mean anything about the person who is friends with a celebrity. It just means they are now in the minority of people that is friends with a celebrity. I am in that group and here to tell the rest of you my experiences of those friendships.
The following is an amalgamation of several friendships I’ve had over the last decade or so with different people of varying levels of fame and at varying stages in their career. I cannot highlight enough that this is not about one specific person.
There are some general pros about being friends with a star. There are often the ones you might expect, so let’s get them out of the way right now.
Being starstruck is fun and different every time. Every time you hear your friend on the radio or see your pal in a magazine or on TV or up on the stage you get a tiny little voice in the back of your head that says “that’s weird and sort of cool.” This is a feeling everyone has, no matter what they tell you. You are seeing the face of somebody you know in a medium that is never full of faces you actually know. You get to see what that medium actually does to a person’s appearance. (The camera adds ten pounds? That depends on the lighting). You will sometimes forget they are famous when you are talking to them, then something will remind you and you’ll hear that little voice say “this is weird and sort of cool” again. That’s kind of fun.
They’re usually talented and personable. Sure, some celebrities morph into gargoyles and nightmare people but usually you don’t reach a certain level of achievement and recognition without having things that make you marketable and fun to be around.
They can get you into restaurants and events the organizers of which you would probably never be given the email address for. There are parties happening in every major city in the country right now full of powerful and famous people and you walk by them every day because unless granted access they don’t want you to know they are happening. All well catered and attended exclusive events are inherently exciting to most people.
They’re great networking. If you wait for them to offer you the chance, they often know lots of the right people to help move along your career and/or social life. This is a nice advantage over everyone on LinkedIn.
They give great gifts. Sometimes it’s because they genuinely have the time and means to do nice things for you. Sometimes it’s because they have wonderful assistants with large budgets and scheduled reminders about your birthday. Sometimes it’s because they had extra shit in a gift bag from an event. No matter the cause, they usually give you cool stuff and that can be really fun.
Their lives are complicated and specific and different than everyone else’s so often times their advice on your problems can be in stark contrast to other friends. Is it always the most informed advice? No, but sometimes it helps just to hear somebody with a very different outlook on the world objectively evaluate your issue.
Those are some of the perks. Are those perks in a friendship worth the cons? Take a look and decide for yourself.
They are people who are constantly given attention, told they are special, doted on, given things they haven’t earned, and made to feel they are the most fascinating and complex people in the room. This usually translates into a person who struggles with empathy, making true friendship a sometimes maddening challenge. The kind of person who believed in themselves enough to put themselves out on public display as their job and was met with praise and acclaim for doing so can be stubborn and often an intense version of that weird mix of overly confident and sheltered rarely seen outside of white rich suburbs.
Privacy suddenly becomes a gigantic issue. Sure, we’ve all slowly become conscious of the dangers of posting personal information onto social media but when things about your private life are worth actual cash money to the world this paranoia is raised to unbelievable levels. They won’t text you certain things. Sometimes you can’t take pictures with them. You can’t post funny things they say, lest they be misinterpreted. Private dinners and time alone with anyone are become incredibly valuable to them and you will see how they feel about you reflected instantly in their choice to spend these with you or not.
Money is the root of all evil and they have lots of it. They want to go on vacations you can’t afford, so they offer to pay. Suddenly you are now beholden to them to make this vacation fun, since after all… didn’t they pay for it? They wear clothes you couldn’t buy even if you had the money. They have furniture that costs hundreds of dollars to clean if you damage it. Most people are cool about this kind of thing and many people face issues of money in their friendships with non-famous people but when it comes to the very wealthy these issues are everywhere and on a much grander scale than “I bought drinks last time.” If they invite you to dinner at a place you can’t afford and don’t want to pick up the check you could be out your week’s gas budget.
Favors can also get interesting. The famous are subject to a constant assault of people trying to leech their success off of them and you are not exception. They may get sensitive when you ask them for a favor that you’d normally feel comfortable asking a different friend. They’re usually wondering if they’re about to “give a mouse a cookie.” You’ll be conscious of this too and will have to work hard to not make them feel like you’re trying to please them by doing the exact opposite. It can be exhausting. The best policy is to just be honest and if you do need something be prepared to take “no” for an answer. Even if it seems unreasonable. Even things like “Can you make it to my birthday party?” make them wonder if you’re just using their appearance at the event as a way to entertain the other guests.
You’ll find yourself comparing your accomplishment to theirs. They have a TV show, film project, album, Broadway play, and 1.2 million followers on their resume. You’ve worked at your uncle’s firm for 5 years. It can be hard not to get discouraged.
Nobody understands. Nobody is going to listen to you complain about being friends with somebody rich and famous without doing one of two things: disregarding what you’re saying is the situation because of the person’s public image or blindly hating them because of jealousy or the person’s public image. Nobody will hear about your issues with this friend objectively, meaning you’re left to sort your feelings out by yourself.
Being friends with somebody famous is a unique experience and each famous person is different, just as each non-famous person is different. Overall I’m happy to have had these friendships if only because it helps to reinforce that everyone, no matter what they have or who they are, is only human after all.