“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
And as always you can tweet me @LibbySegal #thehobbyhoarder