I Saw Ellie Kemper on the Street

By: Cary Chapman


It seems that Claremont Avenue is nearly always lined with trailers. The remains of movie-crew-catering litter the sidewalk, unloved garnishes of kale and stray plastic cups splaying across the pavement in the wake of production. I walk past them every day, but for some reason it never crossed my mind that there were real actors in the trailers. Somehow their lives were too dusted with glitter to ever inhabit the same street as lowly little me.

But Friday, November 4th was different. As I walked home past the row of trailers hobbling along in the career woman heels I had donned for a previous event, my attention was vaguely piqued by a group of women talking together, half in and half out of one of the impenetrable blocks of ribbed metal. They dispersed as I got closer, but right as I passed, the door to the trailer swung open and there was Ellie Kemper! The Ellie Kemper. Ellie Kemper of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She was within ten feet of me, saying one last thing (which I, alas, did not catch) to Dylan Gelula, who plays grumpy teen Xanthippe on the show.

The trailer door slammed shut, Ellie and Dylan both disappeared, and I hadn’t even had the time to register whom I’d seen long enough to slow my pace due to shock. I just sailed on by, and after ten steps or so my mind caught up with my eyes and all I wanted to do was run back there. knock on the trailer door, and say, “Hi Ellie! So good to see you! It’s been a while” as if we were friends and our meeting on Claremont Avenue was one of many meetings- just another day in the spectacular friendship of Cary and Ellie. She would say that it was good to see me too, and that we should finally grab that dinner we planned on back in September. I would say, “Yeah, for sure! I’ll text you” and then we would part ways.

Obviously, none of that happened or will happen; I’ve never spoken to Ellie Kemper in my life. But there’s something weird that goes on when you’ve seen someone in two shows (Kimmy Schmidt and The Office) as well as watched a sizable amount of their interviews on YouTube. You start to think that you had conversations with this person, that because they’ve talked to the camera in an interview you, the individual viewer, somehow have this exclusive knowledge; for example, when Ellie Kemper has to kiss someone for a scene, and she “fall[s] in love for that hour [of filming]” (The Hollywood Reporter’s Emmy 2016 Roundtables). It’s a completely erroneous way of thinking, of course, but this is a unique and kind of special brand of star-struck.

Ellie, on the miniscule chance you ever read this, you’re awesome and you make me laugh!

Cary Chapman is a junior at Barnard and a writer for Barnard Bite.


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