This blog is authored by Judy Anderson, my mom. She wrote it fifteen years ago for the purpose of documenting a story she found dear to her. It’s about events that started thirty-eight years ago.
[One day my mom asked me.] How has being a “look-alike” to famous person Liza Minelli had an effect on your life?
The first time someone approached my daughter Tanya about looking like Liza Minelli was when she was in junior high school during the choir’s regional competition. One of the judges stopped the competition, pointed directly to Tanya, and said, “You,” as he walked up closer to her, “look like Liza Minelli.” Then he turned and walked back to join the other judges, and the competition continued. At first, Tanya thought this judge had heard some notes or notes she had sung wrong and was going to criticize her, or he was going to have her sing some notes solo. No one had ever stopped their choir in a competition before. When she came home that evening she asked me, “Who is this Liza person?”
After this incident, quite often strangers (never family or friends) would come up to Tanya and say, “Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Liza Minelli?” Or, “Did you know that you look just like Liza?” At first, Tanya thought it was just older people who couldn’t see very well, but then younger persons were also approaching her.
Tanya finds it interesting that total strangers have a need to approach and interrupt her, to share their opinion. Sometimes she wishes she could sing or dance and pretend to be Liza, so she could give these strangers something in return. If only to say, “No, I’m not Liza, but I did meet her and she’s a great person.” People expect something from Tanya since she looks like Liza. It becomes irritating, this expectation, this wanting something from her — and the inevitable disappointment when she has to say, “No.”
Tanya sums up: “I am so NOT Liza. If I could fake it, that would be something else, but I can’t sing or dance. I am just being me. I am not this person; I can’t even indulge anyone’s fantasy. I guess being a ‘look alike’ is just a part of being me. I don’t get off looking like a famous person; it doesn’t stroke my ego. I’m just being me.”
My mom passed away several years ago, I found this story on her computer one day when I was settling her estate. Here is what I learned from my mom’s story:
• I was grateful for my mom’s forward-thinking to document the story
• I was blessed to have my mom’s insight, just when I needed it
• It has been years since someone has mentioned I look like Liza Minelli
• I remember the first time someone mentioned that I looked like Liza Minelli different than my mom documented
• I had forgotten about my feeling of disappointment in not being able to give strangers an experience they were hoping for
• I gained an early learning experience about the importance of being true to oneself
• Together Mom and I received first-hand experience of being a celebrity-lookalike on several occasions. For example, our trip to the Polynesian Islands became a week of my repeating and insisting I was not Liza. The actual truth didn’t seem to matter. The locals felt a need to shower us with an upgraded beach bungalow, free meals, drinks, entertainment, and other gestures of appreciation
• Mistaken-celebrity status has reminded me of what my friend Omar says: “I would like to be famous — just not paparazzi famous”
• This entire experience has allowed me to be more gracious in my responses. At first, when I didn’t really know who Liza Minnelli was, I’d just say. “Thank you.” When I later looked at her pictures and learned more about her singing, stage, and screen career, I was able to go deeper into a conversation about their connection to Liza.
Have there been times that your memory of an event or conversation turned out to be different than a friend, family member, coworker, or beloved remembered it? Do your conversations about such different perspectives focus on who’s right or wrong? Or do you possibly relax into playfulness and enjoyment as you discuss these differences? Do such conversation end with the distance between you and the other person, or do they bring you closer together, as you find yourself able to appreciate the other person’s perspective?
Are you wearing a mask at times, pretending to be someone you are not, putting up appearances only to later feel less fulfilled? Or do your interactions with others reveal a genuine desire simply to be you?
If you would like to shift your response to different perspectives about the same event or conversation or to find or rediscover your authentic self, please let me know, I’d like to assist. Contact me at 480-937-0876 or firstname.lastname@example.org