As stars descended on Washington for the annual White House correspondents’ dinner in May, roughly 500 miles away in Greenville, S.C., Amy Schumer reportedly had a run-in with a fan whose overaggressive selfie tactics led the comedian to declare that she would no longer take pictures with people.
When is it OK to approach a celebrity for a selfie? We’ve put together a brief etiquette guide.
• Assess the situation. If you’re at an event such as the White House correspondents’ dinner, chances are the celebrities in attendance will have a reasonable expectation that they will be approached by fans. Note: The key word is reasonable. Don’t demand a photo or take one without asking.
And if it’s the end of the night, understand that even celebrities experience selfie fatigue (see: Dame Helen Mirren “politely” declining a selfie at a White House correspondents’ dinner party because she had already taken so many).
If you happen to spot a celebrity while you’re out and about, consider your setting and what else is going on. Is the star in question having dinner with family? Forget about it. Is he or she on a jog or a bike ride with Leonardo DiCaprio? That selfie is probably not going to happen unless the celebrity is Taylor Swift.
If the celeb is casually walking down the street, it’s a gray area. Weigh the importance of this particular celebrity interaction.
• Be polite. We can’t stress this enough. Yes, celebrities choose to be in the public eye, but just like us, they deserve work-life balance.
A celebrity is under no obligation to take a photo with you, unless you won or paid for one of those awkward meet-and-greets (and even then, standard rules of human decency apply). Don’t demand a photo or conversation, don’t get too hands-y or offer an unexpected hug. You may feel like you know this person from television or films, but in reality, you’re complete strangers.
• Get permission. On Instagram, Schumer wrote that the fan startled her and “put a camera in my face,” and when she asked him to stop, he said, “No, it’s America, and we paid for you.” The fan in question told Greenville’s Fox station that he was with other fans and that he approached her “in a nonthreatening way,” ceasing to record when she asked him to stop.
Regardless of what actually happened, the lesson is that it’s best to ask if a celebrity wouldn’t mind having his or her photo taken. Don’t assume that someone wants to have a photo taken just because photos of them are widely available.
One exception is if you are at a public event, where a celebrity is making an appearance or walking the red carpet. Barring venue rules that prohibit photography, a photo from across the room is probably fair game.
• Be time-conscious. If a celebrity agrees to take a selfie with you, don’t try to wrangle a photo shoot out of it. Take your (approved) selfie, say your piece (I loved you in “Trainwreck!”) and move along. There are exceptions, of course. If you’re having a lovely, two-way conversation, let it run its course like you would with anyone else. Above all else, remember that celebrities are people too. Chances are, if you treat them like you want to be treated, they’ll reciprocate.