12 of My Best Celebrity Sightings

Friday, October 19, 2018


One of my favorite weird topics of conversation is celebrity sightings, meetings, & near-misses. I recently realized that I've had a surprising number of these for someone who's never lived in either New York or LA - & in fact, only one of these celebrity sightings (albeit admittedly my best one) happened in either of those places.

John Glenn (2008)

In my first year of work in Washington, D.C., I attended a memorial event following the death of Sen. Howard Metzenbaum. I spotted my boss, Rabbi David Saperstein, speaking with Sen. John Glenn, former astronaut & one of my favorite people of all time, & instead of going over to be introduced, I simply watched from afar, longingly, & never met my idol before he died. (Read about it here.)

Katie Couric (2009)

I was standing in line to get into the U.S. Capitol building, which can sometimes be a slow process because of all the security you have to go through. When my part of the line finally reached the entrance, the woman in front of me held the heavy door open for me & turned to apologize. "I'm so sorry," she said, "but it's probably going to take me forever to get through." Unsurprisingly, Katie Couric travels with a lot of gear - & is very, very polite.

Maria Bello & Maggie Grace (2009)

When my then-boss spoke at a press conference calling on the international community to help in Darfur, one of the other individuals appearing alongside him was actress Maria Bello, of ER fame. It was in a very small room, & to one side of me was the reporter who wrote the coverage I linked to above; on the other side of me was a confusingly familiar-looking woman who I couldn't quite place - Maggie Grace, who'd just come off her stint as Shannon on Lost. Why was she there?! I never found out.

Sen. Mark Warner (2010)

I was lost in the basement of the Senate office buildings while the government was recessed (which meant it wasn't very crowded & I wasn't likely to  run into any politicians). I asked the only guy around if he knew how to get where I was going; he didn't, but he tried to point me in the right way, looking pretty confused himself. As the elevator doors closed on his face, I realized he was the new Virginia senator I canvassed so hard to elect. (Read about it here.)

Mila Kunis (2011)

I was waiting on a flight from Boston to D.C. when I noticed that the woman sitting next to me was wearing matching Juicy sweatsuit. My friend Jonah always says you should dress up when you fly, & as I tried to determine whether high-end sweats qualify as "dressed up," I realized that I recognized the voice of the woman wearing them. Turns out Mila Kunis was headed to that night's White House Correspondents Dinner - where she was actually dressed up. And she flew Southwest, so no first-class! (Read about it here.)

Nick Jonas (2012)

When Newsies first hit Broadway, my best friend Christina & I bought tickets & met each other in NYC to be among the first wave of viewers to see it. While we stood outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the cast - just for fun, not because we needed autographs or anything - we realized that the handsome man standing next to us was none other than Nick Jonas, who had a night off from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which was showing next door. (Read about it here.)

Kelly Giddish (2012) 

I was in New York with a friend, standing in line for a latte at some some nondescript bakery. I immediately recognized the woman in line in front of me as Law & Order: SVU actress Kelly Giddish, although she was then new to the franchise in her role as Amanda Rollins. She ordered a black coffee & a croissant. It was all very cosmopolitan, I know.

Jason Mewes (2013)

When I lived in New Jersey, I often worked from the Starbucks in downtown Red Bank, which was across the street from Secret Stash, a Kevin Smith-owned comic book store & museum that features tons of paraphernalia from his movies. One afternoon, a long-haired dude came in to get coffee, & a teenager at a nearby table asked, "Does anyone ever tell you that you look like Jay from the Jay & Silent Bob movies?" Yeah... yeah, he gets that sometimes. (Read about it here.)

Cory Booker (2013) 

The same day I met Jason Mewes, I met Cory Booker, then the mayor of Newark, who was known for his many tweets responding to citizens' complaints & concerns. He was walking down the street with a flock behind him, & as I stood nearby to take a photo from a distance, someone in his camp asked if I wanted to meet him. Of course I wanted to! Now, he's the junior senator from New Jersey, elected later that year. (Read about it here.)

Justice Elena Kagan (2013)

My former boss is a well-known lobbyist & one-time U.S. ambassador whose circle of friends is a who's-who of... well, some big-name whos. At his annual Hanukkah party, I chowed down on store-bought latkes while gushing maniacally about them to my former boss's wife (a former NPR exec) &... Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. No, it was not embarrassing at all(Read about it here.)

Joe Biden (2015)

OK, fine, this one was less of a "sighting" & more of a very planned & highly coordinated event, but how could I not count it? The vice president was the keynote speaker at a major event hosted by the organization where I work, & I was working backstage, live-tweeting his address. "Do you want to meet the vice president?" my boss whispered. UM, YES. As he worked the line, shaking my coworkers' hands, I asked for a selfie - & Uncle Joe obliged. (Read about it here.)

Evangeline Lilly (2016) 

I was eating lunch at a neighborhood Ty Spot with two friends when we realized that the beautiful waif of a woman dining solo on soup in the corner was none other than Kate from Lost. She was in town to film Little Evil, a super-cheesy Netflix horror comedy co-starring Adam Scott... who my friend spotted in the parking lot of a local Trader Joe's a few days later. (Read about it here.)

Tell me about your best celebrity sighting! I love hearing about other people's. 

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