Listen up Earthlings, a Higher Being is speaking. And she is here to tell you about the 2019 American Music Awards (aka AMAs, aka an award show I don’t think anyone really cares about but I will now never stop talking about until my last breath and there is nothing you can do to stop me).
How did I, a celebrity-obsessed nobody, attend the AMAs, you ask? As all nobodies do – I was a seat filler. My sister and I submitted to the seat filler lottery and she won us two spots. Never having done this before (and being brand new to LA in general), I assumed I would be standing at the back and maybe get to see some cool performances. Oh, was I wrong. I wish I could go back just 24 hours and tell naive young Jenny just what she was in for.
We arrived hours early and went through an extensive check-in process that included Fyre Festival-like sandwiches before being ushered to the theater. They placed the seat fillers sporadically throughout the front and we were told to move to any empty seat if a real ticket-holder came to claim their seat. My sister and I were separated, both about 10-15 rows back on the right side of the theater – really great seats! Alas, I had to go to the bathroom, knowing that the show would run 3+ hours and I wouldn’t have many opportunities to go once it started. So I grabbed my sister and we rushed out, sad to leave our prime real estate but fingers crossed that we could return.
The hustle and bustle had really begun upon our return from the bathroom. Some minor celebrities were briskly ushered in, while seat fillers were being rushed around the room. My sister was pulled up to the front and I rapidly and boldly made the best decision I have and will ever make: I threw a Hail Mary and followed her.
We were seated in the two seats at the very center of the SECOND ROW. To our left, Sarah Levy of Schitt’s Creek plopped down and we realized Dan Levy was in the back preparing to speak, soon to return to our row (my sister was later able to tell them we love their show, and they were very excited and kind). To our right, hilarious husband and wife duo Taran Killam and Cobie Smulders took their seats (I found out they were married by eavesdropping on their conversation with Jameela Jamil and James Blake, who were seated one row back and are also apparently dating). Both women were absolutely stunning in person, btw.
As I not-nonchalantly gawked at all of the TV-lebrities around me, I felt a sudden slap on my thigh. Under her breath my sister tried to shriek my name to turn my attention to the seat directly in front of me. Reader, let me tell you, I have never felt so many emotions in my life. I could not breath, I could not see, I almost cried and peed at the same time. While I was looking the other way, the winner of Artist of the Decade, TAYLOR F-ING SWIFT sat down in front of me. She was radiant. She was joyous. She was PERFECT.
Halsey was seated a few seats down from Taylor, who promptly shuffled people around so they could be together. I did not know they were good friends, but it turns out they are because they did not stop hugging and holding hands. Taylor’s guest was not long-time bf Joe Alwyn, but instead a mysterious redhead who I assume is Abigail, her friend from growing up that often appears in her early music [EDIT: she was not Abigail. She was celebrity publicist Tree Paine. I’m going to keep pretending it was Abigail because I thought that was cute]. Halsey brought her brother, who was adorable and excited and sang along to her performance. Then Taylor noticed the ICONIC Billy Porter in the row behind me, and she ran back to grab him and bring him to the front. Kelsea Ballerini stopped to say hi to them all.
As I watched these interactions unfold not two feet from my face, countless other celebrities passed by. From Green Day to Tyra, Carrie Underwood to Heidi Klum (and her Tokyo Hotel accessory), Constance Wu (and that guy who plays Jinyang on Silicon Valley, who I guess she’s dating) to Regina King, EVERYONE was there. Hell, I’m just going to list everyone I saw walk by because I’m just too excited: Lil Nas X, Patrick Schwarzenegger, David Dobrik, Jenna Dewan, Misty Copeland, Kane Brown, Megan Thee Stallion, Diplo, Maya Hawke, Ben Platt, Kelly Osbourne, Thomas Rhett, Patrick Starrr, Christina Aguilera, Dan and Shay, and Jharrel Jerome (this is very clearly in no particular order). Oh and Pete Wentz sat in the seat behind me for a bit and was very loud and annoying.
The rest of the front row started to fill in. It included Post Malone, who looked like he was having the most fun of any celebrity and I am now determined to befriend him at some point in life. It included Dua Lipa and boyfriend Anwar Hadid, who I have never found attractive in a photo but was shockingly hot in person and adorably sang along and filmed all of Dua’s performance on his phone even though it was clearly being filmed professionally so I have to stan.
And then came the other two celebrities who made me completely lose my composure (but I had to act cool for fear of being replaced by another seat filler)… BILLIE EILISH AND LIZZO. If you know me, you know this was very important for me. Lizzo obviously STRUTTED in with her mother and sister (I think). I unfortunately did not witness the tiny purse, but wish I knew to look out for it. Billie waltzed in with her blinged-out beekeeper hat, accompanied by her brother Finn and his girlfriend.
Lesson #1 of the night: any celebrity can talk to any celebrity, and the rest of us are truly cockroaches. Celebrities who clearly didn’t know each other constantly grabbed each other to hug and say they loved the other’s work, and it was always reciprocated. Seat fillers were shoved around like the final bites of food on a plate when you have eaten way too much and are considering just finishing it off but can’t do it. I have never felt so close to the action yet so put in my place at the same time.
Lesson #2: the seats in the front are filled by those who will either a) win an award, b) present an award, c) perform, or d) be on camera in reaction shots while someone else is performing. We started to realize who would win awards based on when they were shuffled in and the cameras surrounded them. They clearly knew too, so I’m sad to say that their looks of surprise are fake. Taylor was seated where she was because she won endless awards and performed countless times. When Taylor was not there, others filled in. During her performance, the seats were filled with her parents (who sang every word and cried and were overall adorable) and Selena Gomez (supportive BFF who apparently had a panic attack before, but I could not tell – she looked unbelievable and was very excited for Taylor). During Green Day, one of their wives was in the front with their two very young sons who were the cutest little rocker kids I’ve ever seen. [EDIT: apparently she was actually the wife of an executive – still cute]. At one point, Shawn Mendez and Camila Cabello occupied the seats with their now-typical, extremely over-the-top-not-believable-at-all PDA. I could have reached out and touched their tongues but I chose not to. Shawn Mendez is extremely attractive. That’s really all I have to say about that.
Lesson #3: the only celebrities that attend the AMAs are on the show as performers or presenters. Many nominees weren’t even there, like Ariana Grande (to my dismay). Besides Diplo and Will.I.Am, I don’t think I saw anyone that didn’t speak or at least was the date of someone who was speaking (unless they did speak and I missed it). So, I guess celebrities don’t like attending award shows. Well, joke’s on them because I got their seat and I LOVED IT.
At each commercial break, everyone shuffles around and many seat fillers are moved. Every time a commercial break came, my sister and I crossed our fingers and prayed to the AMA gods that we could stay in our seats, and it somehow worked. Nobody ever sat in our seats. This also meant that I couldn’t pee for 4 hours – a feat I am not sure I have ever accomplished before in my life. Worth it.
The venue and performances looked really different in person than on TV. Taylor’s was the most bare-bones, I’m assuming because it was last minute (if you don’t know why, that’s on you to Google) and it was the longest. Halsey’s was one of my favorites and I am not really even a fan. During some performances, there was fire and actual fireworks on stage and we could feel the heat from them at our seats. I didn’t know why Shania Twain was closing the show until she did – it was a PARTY.
As seat fillers, we weren’t allowed to have our phones out. So, I only got one picture at the end (above), which is when I learned that I was featured on TV throughout the night (below).
I probably have a lot more to say but I’ll leave it there for now (and probably edit this in the future). For now, suffice it to say I am sad that the greatest day of my life is now behind me. I hope you all get to experience being surrounded by your idols for a night. For now, I’ll return back to earth.