One thing most people probably don’t know about me is that I’m a huge Lady Gaga fan. Growing up with cerebral palsy, I hit a point when I realized that I was “different” from other people. Even if no one told me directly, I always felt like an outcast. In school, I was in all mainstream classes and tried my hardest to prove myself. Needless to say, I graduated high school in 2012 with a cumulative GPA of about 3.2. It was my way to say “I told you so” and reject pity.
Another thing most people don’t know is that I also went through times of doubt where I would let pity get the best of me. I would often pray to God, sobbing, and saying, Why did you make me this way? Why am I here? What is my purpose?
Then one night, a breakthrough. The sobs stopped. I was physically incapable of crying. I truly believe God answered my prayers that night. As started to learn more about the world’s biggest pop star, I felt closer to her than one would imagine even though we hadn’t ever met (yet!)
As soon as I found out that Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball tour was coming to St. Paul, I knew I had to get tickets. I was determined to see one of my personal role models in the flesh. In December, I decided to write an e-mail to her management on impulse asking about a possible meet and greet, thinking nothing of it. They probably get hundreds of e-mails a day, I thought. I’ll never get a reply.
Lo and behold, on February 4th, two days before the concert, I got an e-mail saying that a documentary was being filmed about Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and they thought that I was a perfect candidate. You know those crazy, awesome dreams that you always wake up from before the really good part happens? I thought this was some kind of crazy dream; a prank. Regardless, we corresponded back and forth through e-mail and Trevor, a man who heads up the production team, stated that they wanted to come out to my house for filming.
During the interview, they asked about my life story and struggles. I spilled my guts. I thought I looked horrible on camera, but they said I was great. After the nearly two hour interview, they stated that we needed to be to the Xcel Energy Center at about 3:30 so that they could film us around Lady Gaga’s Born Brave Bus/Tailgate – a place for her fans to go to get help with various issues in addition to meeting other fans in a fun and safe environment. The camera crews said we could do whatever we wanted, so my friends and I just walked (or in my case, rolled) around a bit until they said it was time to go inside of the actual Born Brave Bus for filming.
Before we knew it, screams erupted. Gaga! Gaga! Gaga! The Lady herself walked in to greet both myself and my friend Brandon. We hugged, and she asked us how we were, to which I simply said “I am awesome right now.”
It was at that point that I wanted to cut to the chase and tell Gaga about the absolutely incredible work that Gillette does for thousands of kids just like myself. For months, I thought about the amazing impact that even local sports players have created by spreading the CurePity movement. I wanted to take it to a whole new level, and the wheels in my head were always spinning – Lady Gaga would be the perfect person for this CurePity pledge. I need to get it to her somehow. Which is exactly what I did.
I proceeded to say something along the lines of “Gaga, I don’t know if it’s too much work, but there’s something I’d like to tell you about. The hospital that I go to – Gillette – treats kids just like me from all over the world right here in St. Paul. They also have a campaign called CurePity, which basically means rejecting pity for those with disabilities and empower them instead.”
I then brought CurePity.org up on my phone. Lady Gaga couldn’t sign it right then and there, but she did completely support the movement as well as the hospital’s work. She then said something like:
When most fans come to me, all they want to know is about me, or my music. But all you want me to do is sign this. I think that’s so beautiful and inspiring. When people see this, I think it will have the potential to empower a lot of people and change people’s lives.
Lady Gaga is completely genuine and hands down one of the nicest people ever. Not only that, but she gave me a shout out during her song “Born This Way” – more specifically with the lyrics, “no matter if life’s disabilities/left you outcast bullied or teased/rejoice and love yourself today/cause baby you were Born This Way.” In addition to the two hours we spent before the show, we also got to go backstage after where we spent another hour with her. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and making her aware of Gillette’s incredible work was just icing on the cake!
Unfortunately for Miss Gaga, she had to cancel her tour as a result of a hip injury and subsequent surgery. She called me personally last night and said, “Hi Emma! This is Gaga. I just wanted to call you and tell you that I really screwed up my hip after a show. I’m on crutches and occasionally in a wheelchair right now, but I’m doing okay. Thank you so much for making me brave and be sure to tell your friends that I love them. I want to see you again as soon as possible!”
I also asked Gaga personally about the follow up interview – it’s still on as soon as she can make it!