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The Awesome-ness that is Sean Hayes


I’ve had a few celebrity encounters, some of which were actors of influential childhood characters. Yes, it’s a pretty cool experience. It can catch you off guard if you’re not prepared – you know, a little shock, suddenly not sure what to say, or perhaps even telling yourself, “Breathe. Be cool.” Words are hard.

I've had one of those moments. It stands out in my mind because, well, I lost my mind.

In 2005 my Mom, my friend Abby, and I came out to Los Angeles to visit my brother over Spring Break. During this trip my brother surprised me with tickets to a taping of my favorite TV show: Will & Grace. I don’t think my brother realized how much I loved this show. He knew I liked it, but I don’t think he realized the extent of my love for it. When my sister in law told me we were going to the taping I started crying.

When we arrived at the taping we had front row center seats. My mind was blown. Somehow I managed to hold back my tears. I told myself,” Keep it together Schwahn! There are people around!" Then the moment came when they introduced the cast. Megan Mullally was introduced: I stood and clapped and hooted and hollered with everyone. Like a normal person. Then they announced Sean Hayes: and I LOST IT! And I mean LOST IT!

I have no idea what came over me, but I turned into an extreme fan girl – like the ones you see in The Beatles videos. There was screaming, crying, serious jazz hands waving around my face while standing in a pseudo squat position because for some reason my legs were barely working. I was a mess! I can still clearly see the look on Abby’s face when it happened. She was laughing on the outside, but I could tell from her face on the inside she was saying, “Who the heck are you? What is going on?!”

At this point, Sean came over, stuck his hand up, and said, “Hi I’m Sean. Thanks for coming.” WELL!! Guess what that did to me?! A little more crying, a little more jumping up and down (honestly, this moment is a little bit of a blur, but think I reigned it in pretty well given the circumstances). Then, in this moment of awesome-ness, I shook his hand and managed to spew out, “I GO TO ISU!” (Illinois State University - where Sean went to college). Which, by the way, I wasn't a student at ISU. I had transferred from ISU to Bradley University 3 months earlier. Apparently my brain couldn’t process that at the time. Sean said, “Oh my gosh I loved ISU!” He went back to the set while the rest of the introductions continued. I put my hands up to my face and continued to jump up and down and cry from shock. Mind. Was. BLOWN!

I spent the rest of the night watching an episode of my favorite TV show being filmed with my favorite actors (and this episode was pretty Jack heavy, which just made me happier.) At the end of the night, my Mom, Abby, and I were waiting for my sister in law to pick us up. As we waited a car came out of the parking garage, the horn honked, the window rolled down, and Sean leaned out and yelled, “GO ISU!!”

…..And the crying began again.

I'm not telling you this because I want you to realize how absolutely cool I am, or so you'll be jealous of my Mom and Abby getting to be there in person for when all this cool exploded. I tell you this story for this reason: I think it’s magical when an actor can move some one that deeply. It's a gift. Great actors do it every day. For me, Sean Hayes is one of those actors. I think he is a genius.

As an actor, the challenge is to be real, believable, and as a comedic actor with a character like Jack, do it while being a bit out there. Jack (and Karen) are the eccentric ones. The crazy ones. The 'up to no good' guys, but you know when they appear on the scene something is going to happen (or be said that will make you shake your head). The beauty is these characters are ridiculous! Except we all have that one friend that is Jack. (At home, that friend is me!) I believe Sean Hayes can walk that line between over the top yet perfectly believable, and that, to me, is beautiful. That’s the type of comedic actor I want to be. Will & Grace is my go-to tv show. I am constantly watching re-runs and the box sets, and studying the nuances of the performances, the writing, everything about the show. Study the greats. And there are so many greats attached to that show.

Needless to say, I watch everything that involves Sean Hayes. When he announced he was performing in An Act of God here in Los Angeles I had heart palpitations and immediately bought my tickets. I splurged to get seats in row 6 so I could be up close and STUDY him. My brother and sister in law came too. My brother came to see if he could connect to my awe; I'm pretty sure my sister in law came to see if I could keep it together. P.S.: I totally did! I only got teary-eyed at curtain call. And I figure that's legit when you get to see your idol/mentor (I like to call him my mentor) live.

No matter what, Sean seamlessly weaves his magic into his characters. I love to see the difference in the roles, but they all have those pieces of flair that I figure is Sean; A little bit of himself that gives his characters pizzazz.

It makes me happy. And it inspires me. And that is why Sean Hayes is top on my list of favorite actors; He's filled with some much awesome-ness.

The fact that he’s an Illinois boy is just the icing on the cake. ;)

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