Taylia and The Superfan

My mother, without fail, bought the YOU magazine each week and I would pick it up and look at all of the pictures. I remember it was always the last section of the magazine that was dedicated to celebrities and fashion and I would constantly cover up the captions to the pictures, seeing if I could identify the celebrity before reading more about them. Films and music were always a huge part of my life and I wanted to know about the people in them. At the age of 10, there was barely any celebrity that I did not know, really liking some and really disliking others and never fully understanding why.

The beginning of my superfan journey began at the age of six. Britney Spears. She was the first celebrity I ever tried to emulate. To me, she was the most beautiful woman in the world with the most incredible voice. When I was nine, she released the album: Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, and I remember begging every single family member for it. Just before Christmas, it was the only thing I added to my list, thinking that my dad would get it for me. In the mall, he pulled me aside and told me that Britney Spears’ content was too mature for me, so I will definitely not be getting the CD. On Christmas Day however, my older sister Nikki had it wrapped beautifully for me and it was the best present I had ever received. My dad winked at me, it was all planned, I was so happy that I could not care.

I then sang her songs wherever I went, my voice was angelic until puberty. I dreamed of being a singer, but not just any singer: the next Britney Spears. Many people would encourage me to pursue it too. There is still some part of me that wishes I could be a singer and it all began with Britney Spears. I loved her so much that my mother got me an ice cream cake with her printed on for my very next birthday. It was so incredibly exciting, but it bothered me entirely when my friends got a slice, wanting to keep it in tact forever. A trait that I oddly still hold.

I suppose that my father was not wrong about her being inappropriate however. In 2001, Britney released her third studio album titled Britney. Although this is not the first album I got, it was the first time I was introduced to Britney Spears as far as I can remember. I was six years old and from the moment I saw it, I had the “I’m a Slave 4 U” music video and lyrics ingrained into my memory forever. I think it may have also been because at this stage of my life, I was one of the very few children, not entirely scared of snakes, and there she was dancing with one. In preschool, we had a box of clothing that we could use for dress up and all I wanted to be was Britney Spears. So I found a scarf, I found some shorts and I got to work.

The next thing I remember is hearing shock from all around me and hearing my name being screamed by my teachers. I honestly had no clue what they were doing. My hand was yanked and I was dragged into the nearest classroom. I was told that tying a scarf around my chest in attempt to make a shirt was hugely wrong. I remember saying “but Britney does it”. They kept on asking me which Britney was influencing me so badly, but I did not want to get my friend, Britney Spears in trouble. I think maybe this is why my father was hesitant to get me the next album.

Taylia Meese, the author of this project, is such a big Rihanna Superfan that she often wears her T-shirt with the same namesake on it.

When older, I eventually grew bored of my mother’s magazines as they did not fill my growing hunger for celebrity news. It was then that I discovered The Heat Magazine, an entire publication dedicated to celebrities and I remember feeling like I found my own piece of heaven. Since then, I have almost collected every single issue until I discovered I could access more information online. Nobody stood out more than Matthew McConaughey. There was a poster of him and it was the first page I ever ripped out and put on my pinboard in my room. I know this sounds strange because everyone has a celebrity crush and he was indeed my first, but I had to know everything about him. The internet was not yet a member of my immediate family, so I depended on other magazine articles, movies and television interviews. I remember extending my collection to Teen magazine, People Magazine and Cosmopolitan being regulars that I would pick up but there were also many, many others. My repertoire grew stronger and stronger. But alas, although Matthew has always and will always occupy a special place in my heart, I had opened a door to something so much bigger.

Since then there are so many more people who I have added to my list of celebrities that I am a superfan of: Oprah, Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Ellen DeGeneres, Nicki Minaj and most recently Vanessa Morgan are some of the names on a very long and extensive list. But the door has never closed and has in fact, shown me multiple rooms and avenues, as grand and illusive as the Louvre Museum. So much time is needed to sift through all of the artform at my fingertips and the room which followed in this natural progression was almost like a history classroom.

I needed to find out why I had such a fascination and whether or not it was deeper than a separated obsession. Does being a superfan have any real impact on my life? Of course, I went into it having preconceived notions, knowing my celebrities so well, I could fully convince you of just how much they impact me. But do they really? There has always been a negative stigma placed onto fandom. Obsessive, hysterical and dangerous are just a few of the most common perceptions of the fan. Are they misplaced? Is a superfan the most extreme form of fandom and does that make the superfan even more dangerous?

The only way I could find the answers that I needed would be to find other people like me. To observe them, to talk to them, to not only hear what they have to say but to see it. It was a long tedious journey that I almost lost hope in the pursuit of. I only knew one other superfan and because I myself was a superfan of the same celebrity, I felt like I could never draw objective conclusions until one day it all changed. Although I will only be introducing you to three Superfan’s, what I have unearthed has been extremely fruitful. This is where you will be introduced to the three A’s of the superfan, the three main areas of impact from the celebrity onto the superfan: Activities, Aesthetics and Attitudes.

Celebrities such as musicians can inspire you to be charitable, to pursue a certain type of career and even the activities that one participates in for fun. They can shape the way you dress and present yourself and they can have a tremendous influence on your belief systems and your views of social systems. The three superfan’s that I will be introducing you to are impacted in all three of these areas but resonate most strongly with one and therefore will be the face for one category, each linking with their own individual interests. Here you will be introduced to Lee McAlistair Rooney, Palesa Makam and Jayde Mapalang and they will each take you on a different, absolutely fascinating path into understanding the impact that the celebrity has on their superfan. This takes a look at the lives of the superfan in conjunction with their celebrity idol so while the fans are not your regular fans, because of them, neither is the celebrity. The celebrity becomes a super celebrity to their superfan.