When Ismail Meres spotted actor Adam Sandler stepping onto the basketball court at Toronto’s Ramsden Park, he wasn’t fazed.
He double-crossed the famous actor, decked out in his signature oversized outfit, to make sure what he was seeing was real, then got back to the task at hand: crushing people on the field.
“There were some people (patronizing),” Mehrez told the Star about the recent meeting. “We were playing ball and people were like, ‘Oh, Adam, OK, Adam,’ when he was doing the littlest things, and you could see it in his eyes that he was like, ‘Yeah! give,” Merez said.
Merez believed that what set him apart from others on the court was his ability to bring Sandler into the game while remaining calm.
“Me and my brother, when we play ball, we focus on the ball. We don’t really care who we play with or against, we just focus on ourselves.
The approach seemed to have an impact: Sandler, who is in town to film You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, remembered Mehrez’s name after the game.
As more and more celebrities return to Toronto with the easing of pandemic restrictions, there has been a bit of excitement. Photos of people stopping Sandler and others like singer Conan Gray and comedian Hassan Minhaj for selfies have been popping up all over social media timelines.
Although the city is home to megastars like Drake and The Weeknd, it’s been a while since we’ve seen so many celebrities hit our streets. Since they’re not as ubiquitous as in New York or Los Angeles, it begs the question: What’s the proper etiquette when you run into a celebrity?
Paul Brooks, national publicist for Take Aim Media, who has worked with a number of artists and musicians, including Odessa, George Fitzgerald and Polaris Award-nominated singer-songwriter Lisa LeBlanc, says to follow in Mehrez’s footsteps.
“You usually have a lot more in common with a celebrity than you think,” Brooks said. “You have personal boundaries about how you interact with strangers. So try to keep calm and think it through before trying to contact them.
Authenticity is often the best approach, he continued, because celebrities are people too and most appreciate being treated like normal people.
“If you think you’re going to get weird or not be able to talk, don’t contact this person. It’s very embarrassing,” Brooks said.
In the case of Shannon Shorten and her 11-year-old son Harrison, they met both Drake and Adam Sandler on the same day at the same Toronto eatery, ONE Restaurant. No star stopped moving while acknowledging them.
“So Harrison just ran up to (Sandler) and they both high-fived at the same time and high-fived,” Shorten said by phone. Then Harrison started walking with him.
“He tapped me on the chest, saying, ‘You’re a good boy, you’re a good boy, you’re a good boy,'” Harrison said.Sandler kept walking throughout the interaction.
Later, when they saw Drake leaving a Yorkville restaurant, the interaction was a little different.
“Drake looked at Harrison and nodded as if he was coming (over). But then more and more people started coming and you could see (Drake’s) guys saying, ‘Go in now,'” Shorten said. “Things started to get a little crazy.”
Brooks explained that recognition and interaction with a celebrity is never guaranteed. Sometimes a celebrity is just trying to get ice cream or cream of wheat. Every time they go out, it doesn’t mean they’re “on.”
“Don’t take it personally if you’re attracted to someone. There’s a million things going on that you don’t know about,” Brooks said.
Fame is fickle, and while celebrities of Sandler’s stature may seem larger than life, they’re still human.
“If you want to be cool, I think it’s important to respect their time and assess the situation,” Brooks said. “I think that by thinking about your personal boundaries and assessing the situation, you will increase your chances of having a positive interaction and a potentially meaningful interaction with them.”
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