The Challenge and The Conquest

You may or may not have noticed that I never blogged about RT’s Mr. Romance Competition. I refuse to say Pageant. Sounds to girly. Anyway, I think I dragged my feet writing this post because I didn’t want to give you a play by play account. I wasn’t sure how to phrase what I wanted to share. I’m still not sure, but here goes.

Out of all of the events that I performed or spoke at at the convention, this was the most personally important to me. The most demanding. The one that had me shaking a bit in my platform sandals. The mostly female audience wasn’t going to be getting the hunky soap opera host they’d been promised. He bailed last minute due to a filming conflict. Nor were they going to be getting NYT bestselling author Heather Graham who usually co-hosts the show, but had to leave RT early to attend BEA. They were getting me.

I battled my fear that the audience was going to be disappointed by telling myself that, though I’m not a celebrity, I am a professional performer with bukoo years experience on stage. That I’m building a name as a romance author and that I had several supportive friends in the audience. Also, I wasn’t hosting alone. Writer/director Rich Devin recruited actor/cover model Bill Freda to co-host a large portion, as well as cover model/Mr Romance 2005 Andrei Claude, and actor/cover model Mark Johnson. Cover models, C.J. Hollenbach and Evan Scott, worked as off-stage announcers. The audience would forget all about the lack of Mr. Soap Opera Hunk once they laid eyes on my charismatic, ultra-attractive co-hosts. Then there were the hunky competitors themselves. The audience would be focused on them, not me. So I told myself over and over again throughout the week leading up to the event.

Adding to my nerves was not being able to study the script ahead of time. Because soap opera dude canceled last minute, and because of a few other glitches, Rich had to rewrite the show throughout the week. I give that man a lot of credit. He spent sleepless nights rewriting. By day he coached the competitors along with partner Lance Taubold. Throughout, Rich was cool as a cucumber. Come to think of it, mostly everyone involved seemed relaxed. Except insecure, anal me who obsessed on not having the script until the morning of the show. About not having a full fledged rehearsal... just a walk through. Rich, who knows me, wasn’t concerned. He had complete faith in my ability to improvise. The script would be at the podium providing structure and needed facts. “You’ll be fine,” he said with a smile.

Long story short, I was fine. More than fine. As soon as I hit the stage, I felt comfortable and in control. Kind of like the central host of the Oscars, my job was to keep the show on track. The focus was on the competitors and often the co-host. Bill Freda performed an amazing comedic monologue. Mark Johnson, who would go off-script even if he had one, cracked up the audience (as always) and handled his part of the show with confident grace. Andrei Claude was absolutely charming. The competitors sexy and fun. Rich’s script provided important information and structure. My years of entertainment experience proved invaluable. Playing off of my co-hosts, the competitors, and audience came naturally, easily. I had fun.

After, I received several compliments. Several noted an on-stage chemistry between Bill and I, describing us as witty and charming. Several noted and appreciated my sensitivity with the competitors. I cherished each and every kind word.

Right before the show, backstage, Bill noted that I was nervous. He was surprised. “You do things like this for a living.” Yes, things like this, but not exactly this. And never in front of the romantic fiction community. The last thing I wanted to do was choke and fall flat on my face. Happily, that didn’t happen. I’m glad I faced my fears. I walked away with a sense of accomplishment and with bolstered confidence in my performance skills.

My eternal gratitude to everyone involved in the show and to everyone who never doubted my abilities. For me this gig wasn’t about being in the spotlight, but battling insecurities… and winning.

The Romance Zone has some amazing shots of the show. Please hop over and check out the photos. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a pleasure working with you! Congratulations to Rodney Chatman who won the opportunity to pose for an HQN cover!


Mary Stella said…
Is this where your good friend, critique partner and RT roommate gets to smile and say, "I told you that you'd be great"?

Not that I'm smirking or anything, B. *G* I've noticed that others often have more faith in our abilities than we do ourselves. That certainly was brought home to me at this RT.
Bethany said…
I *knew* you could do it! :-) YEAH!
Jennifer Elbaum said…
You look gorgeous in the pics Beth!

Beth Ciotta said…
"I've noticed that others often have more faith in our abilities than we do ourselves."

Keen observation, Mary. That was my 'ah, ha' moment as well. And, yes, you did tell me I'd be great. Just like Rich, just like Jo Carol, and Connie, and my husband... you had no doubts. Thank you for putting up with my insecurities. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Thanks for your support, Bethany. Glad you like the pics, Jen. We had a grand time!
Taylor said…
Wow, Beth - You looked great! Glad to hear the show was a success! I wouldn't accept anything less than that from you. You've been a professional your whole life. You were ready for this moment, and you proved it! Great job again and hope to see you soon!
Lynn Daniels said…
Congrats on facing those fears! I'm glad it worked out so well. Now I'm off to check out those pictures!
Mary Stella said…
Thank you for putting up with my insecurities. :)

That's all part of being a friend and critique partner. It's in the handbook under Section three, paragraph two. :-)

Besides, you do it for me all of the time -- like when the writing is stalled and I whine that I'll never be funny again, or when I was a nervous wreck over having a speaking role in Heather's show.

You're the best, B!

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