This article was first published in our online discussion forum. Come on over to https://vandervault.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=391 to join the conversation about this article.
On Monday, July 15 one of the Condé Nast producers, Jamie, posted on several “Grace” Facebook groups asking for anyone in the LA area available for a project later in the week. I commented and she sent me a direct message almost immediately. She asked me a couple of basic questions, then asked me to text her a short video stating my name, age, and what I love about Grace – which she would show to another producer. I was at work (!) and had to film it quietly in my office. I received several texts and email messages of “Thanks!” and “We should be bringing you in!”, but I wasn’t going to get my hopes up until I had more confirmation. Then I received an email from the producer, George, asking me to provide information about my social media handles.

On Wednesday morning I emailed George and Jamie to check in and ask if there were additional logistics. George responded that I would receive an email in a few hours. That afternoon I received the call sheet [Multi-Concept with GV / TV: Fan Survey / GL: Social Media Takeover] via email for the next day with the filming schedule, location, etc. My call time was listed as 1:30pm, and Grace’s was listed for 2:00pm.

I took Thursday off from work – and left home around 12:00pm (I live about 60 miles south of Los Angeles). It took me almost exactly 90 minutes to get to the Condé Nast office in Los Angeles. I texted Jamie when I arrived and headed up to the 12th Floor. Everyone was super nice! Jamie met me and walked me through the office space and showed me to a small work room where I ended up waiting for the next couple of hours.

Jamie introduced me to George, who came into the room and we started working on my phone. Apparently, the past “super fans” for these videos have all had iPhones, so they had to figure out how to navigate my Android. I had to download a special app for my phone so that when hooked up via a cable to his laptop, you could see everything happening on my phone on the laptop screen. It also recorded everything I was doing.

George asked if there was anything on my phone I didn’t want Grace to see, since she would have access to pretty much everything. He also asked, “You don’t have any dating apps, right? Sometimes the celebrity will mess around on those for these, but Grace won’t be.” He then explained that the segment would start with me being blindfolded. Grace would come in and “surprise” me – he said to be genuine, and not over the top. I asked if I would see her before that moment, and he said no. At this point it was a bit after 2:00pm, Grace was running 15 minutes late.

After George finished up with my phone, he left me to hang out in the room by myself and wait. Once Grace arrived, they would be filming the “fan survey” segment for Teen Vogue first. After about 5 minutes, I heard Grace arrive in the lobby. Jamie was introducing her to some people. I heard Jamie say, “You were at our office in NY recently, right?” At that point Grace and Dave (and 2 other people) walked by my little room and down the hallway.

A bit after 3:30pm, George came in with one of the production folks who needed to get me hooked up with a microphone. About 5 minutes after that, George came back and said it was time to go. We walked down the hall in a different direction and entered the small filming area. It was super cramped and tiny. At that point I just had to go with the flow – I was totally out of my comfort zone being under bright lights in front of cameras and strangers (about 6 or 7 crew folks were there). I handed George my phone to get it hooked up, and then they asked me to stand on a mark in front of the white screen to set the cameras. It was probably only about 5 minutes or so until everything was set. They handed me the blindfold and said to put it on.

Once I had the blindfold on George said, “Okay, Grace is going to come in”. It got completely quiet and I could only see the floor directly beneath me. From this point on, cameras were rolling – I’m not sure what will be edited in or out of the final product. I heard a few whispers and giggling, then I felt Grace try to take off the blindfold then laugh. I took it off and she was just staring at me saying, “I’m SO sorry! I’m SO sorry!” I told her it was okay and we hugged. She mentioned feeling really bad about having to sneak up on me. So sweet! Luckily as we went through the next 30 minutes or so, George helped and kept us on track. I went to stand by the laptop, while Grace stayed in front of the white screen. We were about 5 feet apart as she did stuff on my phone (SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, my photos) and I watched on the laptop. She had a hard time figuring out my phone and where to find certain apps. At one point she was like, “We don’t need this!” and unplugged the cord from the phone. She must have thought it was only power, and not mirroring her activity on the laptop. So we had to pause for a few minutes while George got it set up again.
A few things I remember:

My phone kept vibrating because I was receiving messages. She kept saying, “Is THIS what it’s like to be popular??” I responded, “GRACE, it’s because YOU are here, not me.”

She saw a picture on my IG and said, “Who’s that?” I told her it was Brandi Carlile who I saw at the fair the night before. She said, “Who?” and I said, “Brandi Carlile.” This happened twice before Dave chimed in and said, “She’s performing after you at Railbird.” Grace said, “Oh!” and moved on.
I remember telling her I liked her socks (mismatched) and she said, “Yeah, my room is really messy.”

I’ve never done an Instagram Live before and poor Grace had to walk me through it. I remember her saying, “Who’s watching?” twice and I was so confused until I realized she wanted me to call out the people watching and commenting.
While going through the photo gallery on my phone she saw a photo of us from last year and said, “It’s us!”

At some point they cut and Grace said, “Outro?” George said, “No, but you have to film an Intro now.” So Grace filmed two takes of an Intro to the clip (“Hi, I’m Grace VanderWaal…). When she finished, she walked over to me through the lights and cameras and said, “Now that we’re done with that…” and gave me another big hug. She was so sincere and thanked me multiple times and said to tell everyone how much she appreciates their support. She said, “Please thank them, it means so, so much.” I mentioned again that I would see her in Kentucky at Railbird… and I can’t really remember what else. They then took off our microphones and Grace left ahead of me. They took me back to the front to get my parking validation and sign two waiver forms (odd they didn’t have me sign them BEFORE filming, but no problem).

I took the elevator down to the lobby and Grace was out front of the building with Dave and the two other folks from her team. After some hugs, the two others departed, and Grace and Dave walked back into the building. We waved and said “bye” again and then I went down to the parking garage.