Have you ever found yourself in a viral video? I have.
2020 is upon us so it’s natural to reflect on your past year. 2019 is the year I ended up on Lizzo’s instagram feed and went viral. It was weird! How did it happen, you ask? Well, that’s a funny story.
I’m not famous. I teach, I occasionally perform, and I write for this blog. At the end of September, my incredibly talented friend Gina Naomi Baez sent me a text. Was I free next week? Could I manage to get into New York City (I live in an outside suburb) to record a video she was working on? Thus began a wild ride that surprised me more than I could possibly say.
Gina is an actress, singer, and Instagram influencer that I’ve known from our amateur theatre days. Now she’s a pro and even though I still perform it’s not my main source of income. But when she texted me that day and told me she wanted me to play Mary Sanderson from Hocus Pocus, I jumped at the chance, because Gina, and who doesn’t love Hocus Pocus? So I packed up my performing bag full of bobby pins, mascara, and eyeliner and hauled my cookies into the city.
We had a blast filming this original video. Gina wrote the parody, she recorded it, she edited the video, and I think it came out fantastic! She’s really proud of the finished product and she should be! I thought that would be the end of it. How wrong I was.
The initial video gained a little traction on Facebook. The shares got to be pretty crazy, to me. Half a million shares is a lot! Gina was excited and so were Mary (who plays Sarah in the video) and I. And then somehow we wound up on PopSugar. Then we got asked to do some promo for an app called JetBlack. It was a really fun day and we had a good time! Again I thought that would be the end of it. I certainly wasn’t prepared for what happened next!
One day around dinnertime, my phone started blowing up. And I mean BLOWING UP. I started getting message after message from Gina and Mary. Had I seen it? Yeah, Lizzo tweeted a live video of us singing Gina’s parody.
I still can’t really even breathe. Three million people saw it. Then we popped up on Access Hollywood. And Fox5NY. And then we were in People, and Entertainment Weekly. We even ended up on some UK sites. And I kept getting tagged, and shared. Oh and someone else who shared me? Brace yourself if you love theatre (which I always spell the pretentious British way):
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! I still feel like I’m going to pass out when I think Bette Midler has seen me do this. The rest was a whirlwind of reposts ending with a live appearance on Good Day NY. Yes, I WAS ON TV for it. Talk about surreal moments!!!
Recently we felt a little bump when Lizzo was named Time’s Entertainer of the Year. (Check the video- Time added us. TIME. Could you die?) The whole thing feels surreal. I still can’t believe it happened. For two, shining weeks, people I didn’t know were sharing a video of me. When people you know call you to say, “My cousin shared the video! She’s so excited I know you!” It’s really something.
Friends, if you want to go viral in 2020, I wish for you to go viral like I did. Just enjoy the ride! It still feels weird to have students approach and say, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that was you it was so cool!” I’m not super recognizable in the video. My hair is bright red and I wear glasses, so when you cover the hair and remove the glasses you’d be amazed at how many people don’t recognize me. So if you’re wondering if I ever got recognized on the street, I didn’t. I don’t mind! Maybe next time I go viral… I’m waiting for your call, Gina!