My out of town friends often suspect that I grocery shop with Peter Dinklage and lunch with Kirsten Dunst. And while I have had close encounters with both celebrities since returning to New York– the former while walking his dog, the latter while eating tacos– my day to day existence is rarely defined by famous people sightings.
And at this point, even when I do spot a People Magazine cover girl, I don’t slow my stride. Perhaps I’m jaded, or perhaps after a year in television production I’ve come to accept that celebrities are people too. Regardless, celebrities don’t give me pause.
The individuals who make me almost miss my departing train are of a different genre. They are the undiscovered subway slickers, who talk softly, scream louder, and otherwise spark my imagination. Simply put, these characters don’t ask for attention; they subtlety demand it.
One such example is Awkwafina. At the time I didn’t know she was behind such hits as “Yellow Ranger” and “NYC B*tches,” but after watching her quasi-rapping performance on my morning commute, I knew she was destined to be a YouTube sensation, or at the very least the subject of one Daily Beast article.
However, during that particular train ride, Awkwafina was significantly more subdued than she appears in her music videos. She sported her signature black frames, but she rapped quietly– almost melodically to herself. And she seemed to avoid eye contact, which made her all the more fascinating to me.
And perhaps because I am a unique kind of subway rider– the kind who finishes her reading material two stops too soon and is forced to look about the car for the remaining portion of the ride. During that period of time I stumble upon such gems as Awkwafina– seemingly benign characters who my womanly intuition tells me to pay attention to.
Of course, working in music television I am constantly scouring the web for the next undiscovered sensation. So when I stumbled upon Awkwafina’s new music video today, I paused and realized I had met that girl before. I’d even politely said “Excuse me” to her while rushing out at my stop. And that same girl, mumbling beats that no one seemed to notice except me, was on the verge of YouTube greatness, with over 100,000 YouTube hits already for her song about Bushwick boys and East Village girls.
Now Awkwafina may not be the next big thing; her fame may stay relegated to the cybersphere entirely. But for one short train ride I got to experience why I’ve chosen New York as my home. I had the fortune to encounter a somebody who everyone on that packed train car thought was a nobody. And I got to do so without flashing cameras or angry publicists ruining the beauty of the moment. A moment in which a girl put pen to paper and let her creative juices flow– for all and none of the world to see.