Oz Comic Con Special Report by Courtenay Fairhurst - @emmarswan
After being a big fan of Jennifer Morrison for so long, I was ecstatic to hear she was coming to Melbourne for OZ Comic Con and doing a small intimate dinner with fans, to which I was lucky enough to get tickets.
I had no idea what to expect. We were just given an address of a hotel, told to wear smart casual and were given a time to be there. When my friend Emma and I showed up, we met some of the other girls (two of which I knew previously), and once we were all together the excitement grew. After about twenty minutes or so we were led to a room on the first level of the hotel, and while waiting to enter, Yvette Nicole Brown and Jason Dohring greeted us as they walked past into the room, and we realised we’d all be dining in the same area together. The thought of being in the same place as so many celebrities made it all that more exciting, but to be honest, the entire night I never took my eyes off Jennifer.
Once our tickets were scanned, we were seated at a circular table. I was sitting directly across from where Jennifer would be seated. Introductions were made with the other girls sitting at the table and we began to nervously ponder what we were all going to talk about. Would she ask us questions about ourselves? What questions can we ask her? About ten minutes after we were seated, she walked into the room looking absolutely stunning and grinned when she saw all of us. It was in that moment when I questioned how on earth I was going to stay completely composed the entire dinner because right in front of me, taking a seat, was someone I’ve looked up to, have loved, and admired for so long. People only dream about doing something like this with her. Yet here I was having a dinner with my favourite actress. I think I pinched myself five times the entire night.
She began by introducing us to her friend, Ashley, who she had brought with her and then made a point of looking at our names, which were written on cards faced in her direction. Ashley immediately commented on the spelling of my name (Courtenay) and said she really loved it. When Jennifer nodded in agreement, I think my thank you was intelligible, but it was probably more of a squeak.
It was silent for a moment (I think we were all in shock), and then Jennifer laughed and said she hoped she wasn’t going to be the only one to talk all night. We began asking questions about her time in Melbourne, and if she was enjoying it (yes). Had she ever been here before? (Yes, she had). How was her flight? (Long). When did she arrive? (Friday morning). I asked her if she was jetlagged at all, and she said no because she always sleeps on planes so it’s like she just went to bed and woke up in Australia. A waiter came over then and handed her a glass of red wine. When she went to “cheers” us, she noticed that we didn’t have any drinks and asked us if we wanted anything. We said we had to go to the bar to get drinks but were waiting for her. She reassured us she wasn’t going anywhere, so Emma and I rushed to grab drinks and get back to the table as quickly as we could (Hey, I was having dinner with Jennifer Morrison and I didn’t want to miss out on a second!).
Not long after sitting back down, Jennifer commented on all the braids everyone had in their hair. Before dinner started, I had braided the hair of almost half the table. So when they all pointed out I had done them, Jennifer looked at me with a big smile on her face and said I did a great job. This was the second time that day she had complimented my braids, so I was super thrilled. After fangirling internally for a moment, I told her she was my inspiration when it came to braids and asked her if she did her own. I was surprised to find out that, yes, she did all her braids. She then gave me a small tutorial on how to do her famous crown braid (so if you’re interested in knowing how, hit me up!). They began to serve the food then (chicken for half the table, and steak for the other half), and I’m not going to lie… I didn’t eat much because I was terrified Jennifer would ask me a question when my mouth was filled with mashed potato.
As we all became more comfortable and calm in Jennifer’s presence, we could feel the atmosphere change and it went from a dinner with our favourite actress to a dinner with a friend. She asked us questions about our lives, our pets and favourite places we’ve travelled to. We showed her pictures of our families and pets on our phones, and she told us things about what it’s like to be an actress and being on the set of Once and House. She also shared what it was like working with her cast members, as well as personal things about herself that we never knew before.
At some point during the dinner, the gifts we had for her were brought up and Emma and I were first to give her ours. When we found out Jennifer was coming to Melbourne, Emma and I immediately wanted to put a scrapbook together of messages from all the friends we had made in the Once fandom because of her. For three weeks, we collected letters from them, and then the night before, we put it into a beautiful lilac book. All of the hard work and little sleep we got putting it together was worth it when we saw her face as we handed it over. Her hand immediately went to her heart as we explained what was in the book and she kept looking at her friend in complete awe. Jennifer then proceeded to go through the book right there in front of us, pointed out things and thanked us about a thousand times. She looked so utterly touched and grateful, it warmed my heart. As everyone else gave her their gifts, she became so overwhelmed, like it was a surprise that we all would put so much effort into making something for her. That amazed me. She mentioned a few times throughout the dinner about the hate she gets on Twitter and Facebook, and how it really does affect her, and it saddens me to no end that sometimes she doesn’t know just how loved she truly is.
That’s what was so great about this weekend. There were a crazy amount people at Oz Comic Con for Jennifer -- all her panels filled up, her autographs and photo sessions pretty much sold out –- so I’m glad she got to see just how many people adore her. I could tell she was so appreciative for all our support, and at dinner, she made sure we knew it.
At the end of the dinner, she wanted a picture with us all, as well as separately, despite the security telling her it wasn’t allowed. “It’s for me,” she told them. Then, to our surprise, she asked for our twitter handles and promised to tweet us all the pictures. Not long after that, it was time for her to go, and as she gathered her things, she thanked us over and over for a wonderful time and for our gifts. She promised she’d read every single page on the plane home, and would put it in her living room for safekeeping. After a final hug for all of us and a round of air kisses, she disappeared out of the function room, and we all couldn’t believe what had just happened. Without fail, the dinner had exceeded all of our expectations.
I’m so very thankful to have gotten a chance to really spend time with Jennifer. She was so open and honest with us and took the time to get to know everyone at the table. I will always cherish the conversations we had, and I can say, with all my heart, that Jennifer Morrison is the most kind and down to earth person I have ever had the privilege of meeting.
I will never forget that.