Elections

Selfie opportunities plentiful at Democratic convention

Bellingham delegate Tatum Kenn with NSYNC singer Lance Bass at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia July 25-28, 2016. She said at 18 she’s seen but not recognized several older celebrities.
Bellingham delegate Tatum Kenn with NSYNC singer Lance Bass at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia July 25-28, 2016. She said at 18 she’s seen but not recognized several older celebrities. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Susan Sarandon. Debra Messing. Lance Bass. It’s amazing who’ll you’ll see you at a convention when you just turn around.

That’s what Jaxon Ravens told the delegates from Washington state in the hall at the Democratic National Convention — turn around in their seats on the floor and look backwards, instead of up at the stage.

“You’ll probably be within 15 to 20 feet of some really interesting people,” Ravens, the chair of the Washington Democratic Party, told the delegates at an early breakfast on Wednesday, July 27. “You can do some star-spotting.”

It’s funny, I don’t know who half these people are because I’m so young. Like, when Paul Simon came out, I’m like, ‘Who is this guy?’

Tatum Kenn, 18, of Bellingham

Ravens told the crowd that on Tuesday night, he saw actress Messing and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine both sitting directly behind the Washington delegation on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center.

Celebrity spottings at the convention kicked off almost as soon as the event itself – some Bellingham delegates said they found celebrities on Monday.

“I’m just going to sit in the back this time,” said Tatum Kenn, 18, of Bellingham. “You look up, and there are $10,000 seats, so who even are these people? If I see them, I know they have money, and sometimes I can recognize them.”

Kenn met Sarandon on Monday and Joe Kennedy III and Lance Bass on Tuesday.

“It’s funny, I don’t know who half these people are because I’m so young,” she said. “Like, when Paul Simon came out, I’m like, ‘Who is this guy?’”

Kenn has been active on her Facebook page, posting celebrity sightings scattered throughout the first three days of the convention.

Actress Constance Wu “is pretty in-person,” Kenn said. “That’s my favorite thing, to see if they look the same in person.”

Dallas Roberts, 23, of Bellingham, said he didn’t expect to see Jerry Springer, former mayor of Cincinnati and host of his self-titled talk show, at his delegation breakfast. The Bellingham delegate caught Springer for a selfie Tuesday morning.

And Roberts was also interviewed by Michael Che from Saturday Night Live on Monday night.

“Non-stop celebs” are a staple of major party conventions, said Richard May, 49, who’s been a delegate at two prior conventions. He’s gotten photos with celebrities before, and at this convention, he met U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and CNN Anchor Dana Bash.

But he’s not quite as impressed by celebrity presence this time around.

“Celebrities aren’t necessarily more qualified to weigh in on politics,” May said. “Political stars are more interesting.”

Kenn’s hoping she’ll find some political stars Thursday, the last day of the convention. In particular, she wants to meet U.S. Rep. Tulsee Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii.

“I don’t know where she’s at, or what’s going on,” Kenn said. “I’ll just stick to what I’m doing and hope she finds me.”

Michaela Winberg is a journalist and a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. This month, she will be reporting on the Democratic National Convention from Philadelphia as part of a groundbreaking project allowing students to cover the event for local newspapers, TV stations and digital outlets. Follow her on Twitter: @mwinberg_.

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