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AOL Live Audition

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“I have three favorite words: “Passion,” “Dreams, and “Serendipity.” I believe that if you’re passionate, then your dreams are reachable. And even when you think you are falling from the path—a serendipitous accidental blessing will be there to catch you. Moral? Believe in your passions and your dreams no matter how far fetched or crazy they may seem. Anything is possible. Life will surprise you. You will surprise you.”

I wrote this on a Manhattan bound L train from Bushwick this morning at 3:00am–a time when many people are leaving the city after a night out. Instead, I was heading into the city to pursue a lifelong dream: to be an on-camera talent.

When I was six, I told my mom that I wanted to be a play-by-play commentator for Major League Baseball. Subsequently, I went downstairs to the family computer opened up Coral Word (yep, old school), and typed out an entire nine-inning play-by-play commentary of an imaginary game. I gave each player the name of a friend of mine, and when I finished writing the commentary, I’d practice reading it out loud.

“Emily throws in the pitch. Julie takes a swing, and it’s a long fly ball to left field. It could be, it might be, it’s gone!”

And when I felt really good about how I was saying the commentary, I’d pull out a radio, throw in a blank tape, and hit record. Then I’d listen back and see how I could make it better. Yes, I swear, I was only 6! It was my favorite childhood hobby.

One day, I decided I wanted to write a basketball game out as well. When I finished writing the game, I was so excited that I accidentally saved the document over the nine-inning baseball game.

I was devastated. I wanted to have both commentaries to practice. I wanted to master the craft.

Over time, my dream changed from wanting to be a sports broadcaster to a weather girl and then eventually from wanting to be a weather girl to wanting to be a news anchor—and above all wanting to be a storyteller—a storyteller who informs, a storyteller who engages, and a storyteller who inspires.

However, very rarely is there a once-in-a-lifetime  opportunity to  just walk into a studio and possibly be offered the chance to stand in front of a teleprompter and audition for a room full of producers for an on-camera role. So when I learned yesterday afternoon that AOL was inviting all on-camera hopefuls into their studio to take a shot at being their next anchor at 5am this morning, I knew that I had to be there—I knew that I had to wake up early—and I knew that I wanted to be one of the first ones in line with my yellow sunglasses in tow and a big ole smile on my face. And so I made sure I was.

When I arrived at AOL’s office on Broadway and 9th Street around 3:45am, just one other person was there–a young friendly woman who had taken the train in from New Jersey. We chatted briefly and then others began to show up. I could feel the energy boiling among us as we described why we wanted to be the one of the first AOL Live anchors.

“What an amazing opportunity to take advantage of,” I thought to myself. “Everyone is so passionate. I love it!”

Soon enough we were guided up to the AOL offices where we checked in and then awaited information on what would happen next.

We were then told there would be two rounds, but that we were only guaranteed the first round:

The first round would be an interview round—where five people at a time would be escorted into a conference room to charm the judges with answers to whatever questions they asked.

The second round, if selected by the judges, would be the one where we’d have the chance to step in front of the camera and give our best newscast based on the teleprompter script.

Not before long, the first group of five (which I was in) was escorted into the room where three AOL judges were. I sat in the middle with a big giant smile on my face. I could feel my face glowing.

“Nice shades,” said one of the judges.

I blushed. “God, I love my glasses,” I thought to myself.

After the judges completed questioning the first two women, I stood up and introduced myself:

“Hi, I’m Libby Segal, but most people call me Libs.”

And then the judges threw me their first and only question:

“So Libby. Tell us. What do you like to do?”

I smiled. Tipped my yellow sunglasses a little bit forward on my head, and excitedly responded: “Everything,” before launching into an elevator pitch about the The Hobby Hoarder year and my quest to try one new thing every week. I could feel my face beaming as I spoke passionately about the year.

The judges smiled as I spoke and wrote down my answer.  They then thanked me for my answer and moved onto the final two in our group. Soon enough we were asked to leave the room while the judges could decide who would move onto the next round—the round that mattered most: The live camera round.

Nervously, I chatted with one of the other anchor hopefuls outside the door. The woman who escorted us into the room then walked out of the room and asked for three people to join her. I was one of them. I held my breath. She didn’t disclose to us if we were moving on to the next round. Her poker face was brilliant. And as we began to walk, I could feel my heart beating rapidly. She was taking us in the direction of the exit.

“Breathe, Libs. Either way, you got out of bed and gave it your best shot.”

Before reaching the exit though, the woman took a right hand turn and led us down a dim hallway to a row of chairs.

I half expected the next words to come out of the woman’s mouth to be, “May the odds ever be in your favor.” (Hunger Games). And while these weren’t quite her words, the news to follow was definitely grand:

“Congratulations, you three have made it onto the next round!” Instantly, I could feel all the tension release from my body.

“Phew,” I thought. “Now it’s time to rock and roll.”

Ten minutes later, I was brought into the studio and given the chance to strut my stuff. I danced onto the screen from stage left and gave it my best shot as the script ran through the teleprompter. I could hear myself stumble over a word and then recover. Before I knew it, it was time to de-mic and give the next person their shot. As I exited the studio, I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“How’d you do?” asked a new friend.

“Hard to tell, but I got to dance on camera—so I feel pretty good,” I laughed.

But the truth was, I felt great. I was proud of myself. I felt good not just because AOL had given me the chance, but because by getting out of my bed at 2:00am—I believed in myself and gave myself the chance–And the first step to pursuing  any passion and achieving any dream is believing in yourself. I knew very confidently that no matter the outcome, I had taken a giant step in the right direction.

You can catch up on the auditions that aired live here: AOL LIVE

And you can vote for your favorite on Twitter by tweeting @AOL 
#AOLLive #AOLAnchorQuest

And as always you can tweet me @LibbySegal #thehobbyhoarder

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Donate! Volunteer! Help!

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A special message from The Hobby Hoarder during these tough times:

I can see the Empire State Building from the front door of my apartment building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The lights are shining bright. Whether the lights to the south or the north of it are on–on any given night–I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But this past week I know that for a good portion of time, most of the lights south of the Empire State Building were off. And even still, now, many of the lights in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, the state of New Jersey, and across the Harbor in Staten Island are off.

My family and friends in Pennsylvania spent days in hotels, office buildings, and at bars huddling for phone charges and heat. My professors and friends in Rhode Island watched as the Atlantic Ocean hurdled over the Narragansett Wall creating rivers on main roads, knocking out power to many, and destroying one of the city’s most popular restaurants–the Coast Guard House. Kids were off from schools–hospitals were evacuated–subway tunnels were flooded– the coast of Jersey was completely destroyed, and worse of all–lives were taken.

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast leaving many states powerless and many residents homeless.

Up until today, all the devastation I knew was what I saw in photos–through Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook.

I spent the week working from home, feeling selfish that I wasn’t on the front line helping people–that I wasn’t there putting together recovery packages for strangers–that I wasn’t helping. I realized very quickly that even if I wanted to be on the front line–my help would be exhausted shortly as my strength is not in my arms, but rather in my voice.

When the power went out, for most, on Monday evening, all they saw was darkness. They lost the ability to watch thew news–to follow Tweets–or to get Facebook updates. I kept power–and instead of sleeping, I stayed connected. I followed Twitter until my eyes dimmed, and then early in the morning, I texted my friends who I knew had lost power to see if they were alright. By the middle of the day I had heard from many New Yorkers, and several hometown friends in Pennsylvania. “Can you just update me–I have no idea what happened after it went dark.” “Are the trains going to be able to run?” “What happened?” “When will my power come back?” “How bad was it?” My strength was now my ability to accurately relay messages to them from various news sources including New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Morning Call, and the Daily News.

I found myself Tweeting updates–Facebooking the latest breaking news–and realizing that even if I couldn’t be out there in the Far Rockaways where homes had burned down–even if I couldn’t be in Staten Island–even if I couldn’t be in the basement of someone’s home emptying out water–I could be making a difference . I could be informing people.

So I continued informing people, looked for more ways to help, donated food and supplies to the Far Rockaways via friends with cars, and woke up this morning with one mission: Find a way to get out there.

I read through my email of countless volunteer opportunities to see which one I could get to by bike, foot, or limited public transit. Staten Island had a call for helpers in several areas, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach many of them without a car–and that I likely wasn’t strong enough for many of the things people needed. And then one popped out to me:

10:30AM: NORTH SHORE. Go door-to-door distributing helpful information about warming centers, power stations and recovery to North Shore neighborhoods still without power. Spanish speaking a plus. LOCATION: State Senator Diane Savino’s office, 36 Richmond Terrace right across from the Staten Island Ferry. RSVP tokmotley@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

I re-read the post. “Go door-to-door distributing helpful information.”

‘I can do that,’ I thought, and so I RSVP’ed right away. Soon after, Piers Morgan ReTweeted a photo by Stephanie Gosk from NBC of herds of New York Marathoners making their way onto the Staten Island Ferry–not to run their race, but to run to places that needed help. If these people were going to run 5-7 miles to the underside of the Island–I could sure as hell get myself, somehow, someway to the Staten Island Ferry and walk across the street, to do what I do best–Give information. A walk, a cab, a train, a cab, and a ferry ride later I was sitting in an office at 36 Richmond Terrace preparing to head out to neighborhoods that had been without power for days.

I realized in this moment–that a little help–goes a long way. As the temperature dips to close to freezing tonight, many people not only in Staten Island, but around the tri-state area, and points further north will continue to live without power–without heat. The information we passed around today informed members of the Staten Island community where they could go for shelter or warming centers. The information we passed along today–could save someone’s life.

I don’t like to preach. I’m more of “an inspire by doing” type person. But in this case. I don’t mind preaching a bit: A dollar you give–a minute you give–an hour you give- a day that you give–blood that you give–could save someone’s life.  Many shelters in New York City are turning away volunteers BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY. This is a GOOD–no–GREAT thing. It means plenty of hands are on deck to help.  Maybe you aren’t into knocking on people’s doors and distributing info, maybe all the shelters are filled to capacity with volunteers, and maybe you don’t have the strength to carry packages of bottled water–but there is always a way to help–and always someone in need.

Oh and P.S. Cause I am a bit of a hippie. Don’t forget about Love. Keep Loving.

To my friends in New York City–My friends in New Jersey–My family and friends in Pennsylvania–and my Professors and friends in Rhode Island–and all those along the East Coast–This one’s for you. 
Check out these places for more opportunities to aid in Hurricane Sandy Relief
 Red Cross
 WNYC
 Brokelyn 
 Life Vest Inside
______________________________________________________________________________
“The Resilient Ones”:

“New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway. They’ve experienced bombs rumble under ground. They’ve watched their iconic buildings collapsed. And each time they’ve risen to the occasion to come back—to reassemble—to regain their composure—to help a neighbor—or a friend—or the elderly—or a child. New York is filled with people who fight battles every day to survive metaphorical storms. And today, with this very real aftermath of a devastating storm—New York is still filled with those people—those same resilient people. And I know we’ll all get through this, together. New York City is our home–and it’s not going anywhere–and neither are we.”
-The Resilient Ones
Publishes on Libs on the Reel and One for the Table
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