The story I’m about to share with you is amazing. It will be part “book review” and part “holy cow, there’s no way that really happened to me.”
As most of you know based on my last article, I just returned from my very first visit to Los Angeles. The holy grail of Hollywood – in my parents’ opinion – is the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and you can all imagine my delight upon realizing that ROSS MATHEWS would be making a triumphant return to Jay’s show on the night we’d be in the audience; this time, though, Ross wasn’t behind the scenes getting drinks for the guests, but rather was the guest, appearing to promote his new book and show.
If you don’t love Ross Mathews, then you either A.) don’t know about Ross Mathews, or B.) are no friend of mine.
Many of you probably remember Ross as the lovable, excitable intern/ Red Carpet cover-er for The Tonight Show. He started as a behind-the-scenes intern, and has since garnered not only a crazy fan base, but also a killer gig as a writer and comedian on the Chelsea Lately round-table.
Now Ross is preparing for his truly big break – although he’s been in the “industry” for over ten years now – as a late-night talk show host on E! network. To add to that excitement, he’s also just published his first book, a collection of memoirs called Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence.
As I’m sure you can tell, luvvies, I like Ross.
I can remember watching Leno with my mother and the thrill I’d feel when Jay announced that Ross would be coming on in the next segment, ‘Live from [whatever award show]’.
While in college, I followed Ross through a short-lived reality career and (thankfully) into his very fitting role at Chelsea, and recently I’ve even been downloading his podcast. So let’s just say, it’s safe to assume that I am a full-on Rosshead. A Ross-ta-farian, if you will.
Keep reading, luvvies. While in line for Leno’s show with my parents, a fellow fan graciously informed me that Ross would be doing a book signing the following night at the Barnes & Noble in the Grove. Confession time: the only other book signing I’ve ever waited for at a Barnes & Noble was that of President Bill Clinton, and no lie, this was every bit as exciting for me.
Fast-forward about 26 hours: I am in a folding chair in an enormous B&N, surrounded by eight or nine other people – mostly a smattering of handsome gay men with perfect hair mixed with the occasional pretty, smiling girl around my age.
When Ross emerged, he was not only adorable, but he was every bit as energetic and positive as he is when he’s on camera. Girls, that charm is not fake: he really is so funny and kind and optimistic. He is candid and self-deprecating and unabashedly real. He shared some really moving stories, (some from the book and some not), and wrapped the whole night up with a personal, mind-blowing book-signing/ photo opportunity.
Needless to say, I was star-struck. Meeting a celebrity whom you find beautiful and talented is one thing; but to also feel an incredible respect and admiration for said celebrity is quite another.
On the plane home, I read Man Up! from cover to cover. While I would normally prefer to review female authors, I couldn’t resist sharing this book with you guys. Just like Ross, it’s warm and open and inspiring. There are some hilarious moments, (such as the chapter in which Ross meets his teen-idol, the aptly three-named Tiffani-Amber Theissen), but overall, the stories Ross shares further his message of self-acceptance. At the event at B&N, Ross said, “You are what you are what you are; own that and make something wonderful out of it.” Coming from someone who grew up gay in a small farming town in Washington state, that kind of confidence is even more significant.
Within the book, Ross tells of his amazing journey, going from high school drama productions to The Tonight show to that fabulous sequined sport coat at the Golden Globes earlier this year. His overarching narrative is peppered with humorous anecdotes about himself and his famous friends. In short, Man Up! is a modern version of the Hero’s Journey: Ross never gave up his dream of being a TV talk show host and it’s finally paying off.
The most incredible part is that my Hollywood journey has now been entangled with Ross’s: while I read about his past celebrity sightings and freak-outs, I cannot help but think of my own personal starry eyes for him. This is yet another lesson on the power of positivity and drive. Man Up! is a great examination of the unstoppable force of hope and optimism and the fervent belief in the old magic of Hollywood.