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Alicia This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

      Though one would think that research in preparation to interview nine-time Grammy winner and philanthropist Alicia Keys is vital, I can tell you that no amount of Googling song lyrics or composing questions can sufficiently prepare you for the real thing. All sense of professionalism and preparation aside, when Alicia walked in the door, my mind was miles from my research. Instead, it was racing to make note of everything she was wearing, the way she smiled, how odd it was that our interview was in a dressing room, and how much I loved her for not mispronouncing my name. A seasoned journalist would probably tell me that those thoughts pulled my focus away from the interview and into the land of being starstruck, but in that moment, I was not an aspiring journalist; I was a 16-year-old in awe of the incredible person before me and even more in awe of my good fortune at being able to meet her.

From the moment our interview began, it was clear that Alicia held the reins. Though I had tried to make my questions very specific, there was really no need: Alicia needed nothing repeated or rephrased. She spoke freely; nothing was too personal or relegated to off-the-record. She made the interview incredibly personal by pulling her chair close and leaning in; we were so near each other that I could see the flecks of light brown in her eyes while she answered my questions.

Though she was clearly in the middle of a hectic day, she made time for us and our questions, which shows a lot about her. Generous and enthusiastic, her insightful and eloquent answers were far from the curt replies I had expected.

From her musical inspirations to her community service work, we left no territory uncharted. Before long, though, managers and secretaries rushed in: “We're pressed for time ... you have to rehearse ... you're already late.” Though many celebrities would have departed with a brief thanks and a snobby wave, Alicia did not leave without us taking at least a dozen pictures, expressing interest in Teen Ink and its future endeavors, and asking for a hug. In under an hour, she managed to dispel many of the stereotypes I'd had about Hollywood types - Alicia showed me there are celebrities who are both talented and down-to-earth.

That evening, I attended the Keep a Child Alive Benefit, hosted by Alicia herself. This afforded me the opportunity to see a different side of her from the one who had spoken with me in the dressing room that morning: here was Alicia hard at work raising money for a cause dear to her heart. Speaking to a room full of everyone from Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes to David Bowie and Anne Hathaway, she reiterated how we can best help African children dying of AIDS. Though other A-list celebrities spoke and performed, Alicia was, without a doubt, the pivotal speaker and performer of the evening. In the three hours I spent at the gala, every conclusion I had drawn that morning was reaffirmed: Alicia Keys is someone who proves that if you work hard and want it badly enough, you can achieve anything and even help others along the way.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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alicia keys said...
Dec. 31, 2008 at 4:43 am
i love superwoman why i think i am one
 
c0c0@16 said...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 1:54 pm
i really love alicia keys so this article was like icing on cake for me!!!!!!
 
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