When I learned I was going to Los Angeles, I also learned of an opportunity to be a seat filler for the American Music Awards. If you're unaware, a seat filler is someone who volunteers to go to certain events and fill empty seats so when the cameras sweep the crowd, the audience looks full.
I eagerly signed up, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Here was my day as a seat filler for the AMAs:
8 a.m.: I woke up and made some breakfast. I was told I would be given food at the venue, but I didn't know how much, so I made some eggs and cut an apple. After breakfast, I helped my roommate with her hair, did my makeup, and had my roommate do my hair. By the time 11:30 rolled around, our friends came over to take pictures and we left.
Noon: We arrived at the parking garage which is a few blocks away from the Microsoft Theater where the AMAs took place. We parked the car on the 14th floor of the building, left our phones in the car as per our instructions, and went downstairs to check in. Upon check-in, we received orange wristbands with our names and the words 'Seat Filler' on them.
We got into a line and waited...and waited...and waited some more.
Finally, a woman named Lisa who worked with the seat fillers asked my friends and me if we were comfortable dancing and being on camera. We obviously said yes and she took us to a different holding area separate from other lines. We were then told along with about 60 other kids that we were what is considered a 'special audience,' meaning we wouldn't move throughout the show.
We'd sit in one spot and rotate with each other so whenever the cameras needed an audience reaction shot, they'd cut to us. So we waited in this new holding area for what seemed like an eternity and were finally placed onto a bus that took us to the theater.
1 p.m.-ish: At this point, I had zero concepts of time. My friends and I were bored as we were ushered onto the rooftop of a different parking garage and taken into this massive tent where we were given food. Our lunch consisted of ham and cheese on a burger bun, a bag of chips, two cookies, and the blandest apple I've ever tasted.
We choked that down and waited again only to be brought back outside, split into two lines, one for the 'special audience' lines and one for the regular seat fillers, and then waited some more.
3:30-4 p.m.-ish: We were finally brought inside the theater and holy crap, it was huge. The screens were massive, there were seats everywhere, and you essentially felt like an ant. We sat in rows in the back of the orchestra section and were told to wait for more.
The staff was coming around to make sure there was one guy for every girl so I was split up from my friends but still sat near them.
4:50 p.m.: There were ten minutes until the show went live. A woman came around telling us if we needed to use the bathroom, now would be the time. My friend and I decided to go but, in the process of walking to the bathroom, we were somehow ushered into seats closer to the stage.
That's where we sat for the first act (Taylor Swift) very confused and wondering what to do. My friend said we should go back to our original seats so that's what we did on the first commercial break. Come to find out, they put seat fillers in our seats!
Thus began the two hours of me bouncing from seat to seat as needed. I didn't sit next to anyone of note, but I sat three rows from the stage, said hello to Camilla Cabello and Taylor Swift, and saw a ton of famous people like Quavo, Post Malone, Cardi B, and Macklemore.
I saw performances by Twenty One Pilots, Carrie Underwood, Ciarra and Missy Elliot, and Shawn Mendes. My favorite band Panic! At the Disco even filmed the song Bohemian Rhapsody on their tour in Austrailia to be broadcast at the show! To be honest, it was cool to be among the stars.
The one thing about being a seat filler is there's no guarantee as to where you will sit. Whenever the person you're filling the seat for returns, you have to get up and find another staff member to place you in another seat. Half of the time, a staff member told me to 'Find an empty seat and sit', which would be fine if I A. could tell empty seats from full since everyone was standing and B. could even move through the aisles.
The number of people made my job ten times harder and the scramble when the producer announced 'Thirty seconds to show' was madness.
6:30 p.m.-ish: I somehow found my way back to my original seat among the 'special audience' and my friends. That's where I stayed for the rest of the show. I'm pretty sure I got on camera once or twice, but I was losing steam quickly. I hadn't eaten in a while, they didn't give us water, and the entire time you had to be cheering, dancing, singing, and clapping to the performances on the off chance you got on TV.
I was sitting next to my friend and both of us were feeling extremely tired. It's difficult to have to literally run from seat to seat and then not do anything once you get there besides applaud.
8 p.m.: The show was finally over. I was so happy to be going home. We got onto the buses back to the parking garage pretty easily and immediately checked our phones once we were back in the car. After such a long day, we got some In-N-Out, guzzled as much water as we possibly could, and then parted ways back to our apartments. It's currently 12:48 a.m. and I'm just now going to bed.
The motto of the day was 'Hurry Up and Wait', but once the show started, it was pretty amazing to think that I got to see some of the biggest names in music right now perform. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing that if you're given the opportunity to do, you should do. Just bring snacks, drink tons of water, and be ready to stand and wait...for a while.