Q: On a recent trip to New York City, we saw Katie Couric on the street!  I wanted to ask for an autograph and a photo, but my husband said that would’ve been too pushy.  Who’s right?

A: Your husband wins this one.  It’s inconsiderate to approach a celebrity during a random street sighting.  However, if you spot someone famous at a public event–such as a movie opening or a book signing, where a celeb knows she’ll be on display–you can feel free to ask for an autograph.  Otherwise, respect the person’s space; you’d wish for the same if your roles were reversed.

Posted in America Today

4 responses to “Star Struck: When is it okay to ask for an autograph?

  1. I agree with the logic of respecting a celebrity’s privacy. But it can also depend on the type of celebrity and what you are asking. For athletes and movie stars, I would steer clear as suggested. Newscasters like Ms Couric are unique in that they like to promote their shows and their networks. Generally, while an autograph may be a little much, a handshake and a compliment that you enjoy her show is perfectly acceptable. In Washington D.C. you will often see many of the stars of the news networks and columnists walking the streets. In all the years I lived in D.C., I never once had an encounter were a newsperson was not receptive to a handshake and compliment on their show or a recent column. And I have found this to be especially true for local newscasters and writers.

    1. Yes for work they need to be nice to the public but this is their job. How much would you like to be interupted from having fun with family or friends or some quiet to discuss your work? That is what you are suggesting. Unless it is a work like function I would let them be people not just their public face.

    2. Rusty,
      Surely your experience simply shows that those individuals were polite (or professional) enough to respond pleasantly – they may have felt irritated at being approached but did not show it.

      As a general rule, I think you should consider whether the person is taking part in a public event or not, and if not, only approach them if you are very confident that you will not be interrupting a conversation or meal which they are having, or delaying them if they are trying to get somewhere (which, mostly, is going to mean you don’t approach them at all)

      The more famous they are, the less likely it is to be OK to approach them.

  2. I agree with generally leaving them alone unless they are in a more professional/social setting, with an exception: some celebrities have publicly said they welcome fans to come up and say hi. Comedian Gabriel Iglesias says this a lot, so with someone like him I think you could have gone up and asked for a photo. But most of the time – especially if they are “incognito” – i.e., in casual garb and perhaps hiding behind big sunglasses and a hat, as you always see plastered on paparazzi magazines in line at the grocery store – I say they’re probably just trying to go about their day like a normal person.

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