I Claudia: Photo finish — The highs and lows of covering AGT auditions

Working the auditions for “America’s Got Talent” elevated my credibility, but only for a spell.

Are you confused?

I was!

The auditions were held Jan. 24-25 at McCormick Place.

I was there for the second day. As I followed the signs leading to registration, I was obstructed by an AGT crew member. “Are you auditioning?” she inquired. I wasn’t looking at her. I was testing the operations of my new Nikon D5200 camera lassoed around my neck. I glanced up.

 “I’m a reporter.” I replied. “I’m here to write a story about someone who is.” I pointed toward 14- year-old Kennedy Bordeaux who was standing nearby with her family.

This crew member directed me to a waiting area and then spoke into a walkie-talkie, “Lindsey? Someone get Lindsey. A lady from the press is here!”

Have you heard the saying? “Follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Or “Choose a job you love so much, you’d do it for free.”

I believe the unknown author of these statements desire us to find the vehicle that brings our lives fulfillment so we can drive that baby til’ the wheels fall off.

For me, one of those vehicles is writing. I’ve authored a couple of books and have an open relationship with various newspapers and magazines as a freelancer.

But, my main squeeze is The Reporter, where I enjoy being a correspondent reporter and columnist. I’m fortunate to have a boss like Jeff Vorva, who exclusively assigns me inspirational stories to write. However, there’s one benefit I’m missing as a correspondent — a press pass!

Presenting a press pass eradicates the need for individual verification and qualifications.

Unofficial journalists, like me, require separate letters of confirmation from the editorial office to prove legitimacy when covering large venues, which is what was required of me to gain press access to the “America’s Got Talent” auditions. Nevertheless, when I got on the premises, I felt like ‘special correspondent’ Jenna Bush, from “The Today Show.”

AGT gave me my very first PRESS PASS!

It read, “America’s Got Talent. The Reporter. Claudia Parker 1/25. PRESS”

Then, I got the rules.

“You can interview and take photographs of anyone except our crew,’’ they said. “Those in blue shirts are our support team, black shirts- are producers. If you need anything, let one of them know and they’ll find me.” said Lindsey, an AGT press coordinator.

I went there exclusively to write about Kennedy Bordeaux’s audition experience. But since I had my PRESS PASS I figured I’d interview Cris Judd, their official season 10 dance scout.

Judd is a Hollywood Choreographer and former New Zealand’s Got Talent judge. In my opinion, he’s most known for having been married to Jennifer Lopez.

My request was denied. They said Judd left after Saturday’s auditions.

 “But, speak to our publicist about using statements from our press release.” said Lindsey.

I wanted a live interview, not clipped statements from a press release.

“Alright, I’ll contact the publicist.” I said disappointingly.

I spoke to two warm and professional publicists on site. I felt we had a connection. I got the impression they were interested in my photography skills. Somewhere within our conversation it was insinuated if I e-mailed them the photos I took from the auditions, they’d be published to the AGT website. I even thought I heard them say, with photo credit!

AGT is one of NBC’s top rated realty shows. It has over three million likes on its Facebook page and 357,000 thousand twitter followers. It was a no-brainer. I suddenly christened myself the official, ‘unofficial’ AGT event photographer.

I worked that room!

I started off asking, “Would you like to be photographed for ‘our’ AGT website?” Then I’d give a little tap to my press pass.

My reputation began to precede me, at one point, I had a small wait.

Time escaped me.  I intended to be at the auditions two hours but stayed nearly eight. When I got home, sleep was imminent, but not before I downloaded my photos and e-mailed them to the AGT publicist. After all, they’d be expecting my work.

Ha!

For several days following the auditions, I checked their website looking for the fruits of my labor and nothing!

Upon my inquiry, the counterpart of the publicists’ I’d met said, “Uh, yeeeah, there’s been a miscommunication. We post articles from journalists to our social media but it’s not our usual practice to post their pictures to our official website.”

This is the part where I looked around in confusion with the phone attached to my ear.

“Oh wow!” I responded. “But, I told all those people they could view their photo’s on the AGT website!”

I took those pictures for the prospective contestants in the spirit of supporting the event. In doing so, I felt like a part of the AGT team. However, without their platform, the intended audience was lost therefore making the pictures, useless.

What do you do when your time, energy and talent isn’t displayed on the stage you expected?

Personally, I analyze my heart’s true intention with the aforementioned statements above. Did I love what I was doing? Did the passion behind my effort bring me a sense of fulfillment? Did I learn something new during the process?

Yes, I did.

Perspicacious-ness is acquired more often through our disappointments than when things go perfectly as planned. For those who’ve been toiling to share a gift with the world that isn’t being recognized, here’s my advice, stand and wait. Be immovable! Eventually, someone has to come out of the door you’re trying to enter.

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