For every celebrity, there are hundreds of stalkers, starfuckers, and maniacal fame chasers. Renda Writer, a local poet who has been reaching out to Ellen DeGeneres in letters and videos since 2007, is none of these things, though he is unconventional and really, really driven. Writer, who uses this name professionally and is founder and editor of WeMerge Magazine, a local quarterly art publication, has been a poet for 12 years. Well-known on the local open-mic circuit, Writer considers himself a "career poet," though like many artists, he has difficulty supporting himself financially. To that end, his ultimate goal is to tour nationally, performing his spoken-word art and turning his hip-hop-influenced rhymes into a sustainable career. This is where the Ellen plan comes into play.
"I just kind of latched onto her show a few years ago," Writer says. Since 2007, he has been pursuing his goal of performing his work on her stage. "There's something about Ellen; she just makes it seem achievable," he says. Writer estimates that he has reached out to DeGeneres or her staff 40 to 50 times.
Once, a week after he sent a DVD of his performance to DeGeneres' studio, his cell phone rang. He has a Los Angeles area code because he purchased a phone when he lived there briefly several years ago, so when he sees a 310 number on his caller I.D., he assumes someone dialed him accidentally. This time, he was wrong; it was someone from the show calling to simply say, "We will let you know if we are interested."
"I think any reply is a good reply," Writer says. "In a way, it's a test." It is a test of his persistence, a test that he is winning wholeheartedly, though the goal is not taking shape quite yet. Writer dedicated a letter from the editor in WeMerge magazine to telling readers about his goal of performing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In almost every issue, he manages to add a paragraph or a sentence here or there about his quest to maintain as much buzz as possible. A friend once told Writer that he knew DeGeneres' limo driver and said he would pass along a copy of WeMerge for the driver to put in her car. Writer's not sure if the issue (the one with his letter about his situation) ever made its way into her hands, but that was only one of his grassroots tactics.
He also tracked down a coffee shop near the show's studio and sent copies of his publication there in case DeGeneres or her staff members stopped by for a drink. All of this is in addition to the dozens of letters, DVDs, and gifts he has mailed to her studio. In one YouTube video, he sends her a copy of his magazine and a kitchen trinket ("I know you like odd, weird, quirky products," he says).
He sent her a petition with 1,000 signatures to have him on her show. And he collected 900 more names on his online petition at rendawriter.com. Writer's most recent and most elaborate attempt at gaining Ellen's attention is "The Ellen Art Show," a group art show on January 22 (Facebook invite here) with 28 artists painting portraits of Ellen. The live event will also showcase singers, a DJ, a poetry reading, an auction of the paintings, and a birthday party for DeGeneres. The money from the auction will go toward Writer's plane ticket to L.A. to give DeGeneres one of the portraits. Writer is under no false assumptions that it will be easy to meet DeGeneres face to face but says he will get as close as possible to make sure the gift gets into the right hands.
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If all goes perfectly well, Writer will give DeGeneres her portrait on her birthday, January 26, and will make plans to return to her studio on Valentine's Day to perform his poem Half-Hearted, a slower, more romantic piece than his norm and one that he thinks would connect well with the show's audience. Then, he hopes to parlay the attention from The Ellen DeGeneres Show into an opportunity to tour nationally. "It's my goal; I'll reach it one day, and that's it," Writer says, adding that he is in tune with the laws of attraction and the book The Secret. "You get back what you put out," he says. "It's all part of making something real." Maybe our next blog post about Writer will include a YouTube clip of him performing on national television. Stay tuned.
This video is Writer performing the poem he hopes to bring to DeGeneres' stage.
This happened when one Ellen fan made a video singing a plea to meet her, so who knows what could happen with all of Writer's effort!