“All people are people.” – Donnie Simpson
The first person I EVER interned for in LIFE was Donnie Simpson. Other than being the first and finest “VJ” the world had ever seen, he had been my mom’s adorable crush and the soundtrack to my morning drives out of Maryland and in to DC on the way in to school.
After my first year at Rutgers, I applied and got an internship for what was supposed to be his last summer on the air.
So, there I was, walking in to the building… 18. Shy. Ready. Happy. Pimply. And I wanted to intern and impress the people at WPGC (CBS Radio’s Washington DC channel) so I could be on air and take over like Flex and Rane! But, oddly, I was just quiet once I actually got in there. I had no idea what to do besides what they told me to do. So, I did just that and OBSERVED.
Donnie Simpson made every single person who walked in to that studio feel like they were his immediate family. It didn’t matter if he was talking DC’s current mayor about the troubles in the city, or Jill Scott about an upcoming tour, or a new artist about what inspired them to make music— if you were there, you were going to feel loved.
Donnie has this aura about him that automatically makes you smile. He’s intelligent, and as cool as the other side of the pillow. But, from watching him I learned that you don’t ever have to be rude or pretentious to get people to respect you. In fact, people respect you more if you’re approachable and continue to be a good person.
One day, we were all talking in the studio talking about T.I., who was in trouble with the feds over a crazy amount of guns, and how Tiny was arrested, too. I can’t remember everything that was said, but I do recall that one side of the room could only focus on the material things he had, saying he was stupid for giving that up. But Donnie chose to look at him as a human being who was scared for his life and was getting more famous and had been through some things. When we all wanted to condemn T.I. for being dumb, Donnie said, “All people are people.”
It doesn’t matter if the person has 3 million followers and posts Flat Tummy Tea promos, or has 18 followers and posts their dog’s newest trick— we are all human beings. We all put our pants on, one leg at a time. We all bleed the same blood and we all have feelings that lead us to do certain things.
In my career and in my personal life, I always keep what I learned from Donnie in the back of my mind. “Celebrities” are real people. Journalists, bloggers, friends— if and when you encounter one, treat them as such.
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