Stuttering with Tori Kelly
When I first began working with People Magazine, I resolved that I would not allow my stutter to keep me from doing celebrity interviews. I decided that I would be confident, I resolved that I would (and could) do it. So, I was pretty excited when I had the opportunity to interview Grammy-nominated singer Tori Kelly. She was in the city for an event with Propel and I was sent to interview her -- and enjoy the soiree along with a performance.
I was feeling pretty good about my stutter going in to it, I had chatted with a few people at the party and had little to no disfluencies, but most importantly, I was not self conscious about my stutter at all. So, with a hair flip, I walked down to Tori's fancy-pants "dressing room," knowing that I would not stutter. I just knew that I would be fluent and charming and witty and rock the interview.
But that's not what happened.
When I walked into the room, I cracked a joke or two about the furniture and told Tori how wonderful her performance was. I did all of this fluently. Then we sat down, I whipped out my recorder and tried to ask my first question. Rather than speaking fluently (like I was so confident that I would) I had several blocks, I could barely say a word and it only got worse when I saw Tori look at her assistant and back at me with a confused, worried and awkward expression.
"I'm sorry," I said, and forced a smile.
"You're fine, take your time," Tori said sweetly and noted that my recorder wasn't running.
"Oh, I just record your answers, not my questions -- because it takes me a while to ask them," I said with a laugh. She didn't laugh at my joke (dang!) but, said, "You're totally fine."
I stuttered through every question, but kept a smile on my face. We spoke about her new album, her new-found fame and her faith. It was a really great interview. And we took a really cute selfie! (which is what really matters, right?)
We shared a hug and said our goodbyes. I left Tori's room and headed home. As I walked to the subway station, I waited for an overwhelming feeling of embarrassment and disappointment to come -- stutterers know this well. I waited for thoughts like "You spoke so terribly! You should be embarrassed! Tori probably thinks you're crazy!" to flood my mind. But they didn't.
Instead, I left feeling the way I did before I went into Tori's room. I felt confident and brave and comfortable with myself. And that was the greatest success of the night.