In February, my alma mater, the University at Albany, hosted a PostSecret art exhibit and presentation with the project’s founder, Frank Warren. Excited to hear about the event’s local arrival, I pitched the story to my editor, who agreed to let me write a couple articles, about both the exhibit and the presentation with Frank. I covered the exhibit’s opening, and obtained two press tickets to let me and my friend Maddy see Frank speak in front of several hundred UA students a few weeks later.
But before that, I was able to interview Frank in a more intimate setting, as he agreed to let me and a reporter for the Albany Student Press ask him a few questions ahead of time and in front of his documentary crew. Talk about pressure. I was a ball of nerves and anxiety, hoping I would ask unique enough questions that wouldn’t have him internally rolling his eyes and thinking “THIS again?!” — all while looking and sounding good for the camera. Did I mention we did the interview in a recital hall under stage lighting? I was literally hot under the collar/skirt/tights.
It took a while to get everything set up, Frank’s mic, the camera angle, and then the perfect position on stage for the three of us. My ASP counterpart and I were shuffled around more times than I can count, first asked to sit one way, then another, then switch places, then move our chairs so close together our thighs were touching. It was enough to make one dizzy with diva-dom. Are they getting my good side? I wondered as I nonchalantly flipped my hair for the thousandth time.
After about 20 minutes of maneuvering — and lots of looks of anxiety from our photographer, Jim, who I had brought along with me promising it would be a quick assignment and who had another job to shoot immediately afterward — we were ready to fire away. Our conversation with Frank was awesome. He was so warm and genuine and funny and, well, frank, and that day will go down as one of my favorite experiences as a journalist. It’s hard to accurately articulate what having a conversation like that with someone so influential and important to so many people really means. Suffice it to say, I was giddy for the rest of the day.
Of course, I could only include one or two quotes from my interview with Frank in my article, since I was also covering the PostSecret live event that evening and that was the crux of the story (a story that ended up being much shorter than the one I wanted to write — such is life at a small daily newspaper). But our chat was too great not to share. Inspired by my coworker Cecelia, who posted a transcript of a memorable, too-long-for-print interview over at her own blog, I’d like to post some extended excerpts from my Q&A with Frank.