4 | The Media Are Going To Have A Field Day
“—she said in her interview last night that a fan tried to grab her as she was leaving. How awkward.” A man on the radio says, his voice waking me up. For some reason, Casey decided to set my alarm as the radio. So as soon as I wake up, I’m hearing some celebrity gossip.
The days when I’m the headline is the worst. I honestly don’t think these people think I’m human. Because when they talk about mistakes, they make it sound so scandalous. Once, I was so tempted to phone them and shouting that I’m a human too.
Casey had to forbid me from using my phone for a day.
“Well, I only heard it was a rumor. Whitney’s fans aren’t that crazy.” A female presenter inputs and chuckles.
Oh great, I’m the main focus today. What did I do wrong this time?
“How about we now play her new song? I mean, I still can’t believe this girl can sing as well! She is the package.” She adds and I nearly groaned.
The only reason I made a song was that Lulu wanted more publicity. I had to go to singing lessons for over a year! Plus, Casey told me actresses need to know how to sing. I told her I didn’t mind doing singing lessons as long as I didn’t have to go to dancing lessons.
I am not flexible. At all.
“That sounds great! Here’s the fabulous Whitney Winters with her new song.”
And that’s when I turn my alarm off. I’m not that keen on listening to myself singing. Going to film premieres I can deal with partly because I’m with other actors as well who I made really good friends with but listening to myself sing...no thanks.
That reminds me, the music video for the song will be out soon. I had to learn several dance routines last week—and as I said, I'm not good at dancing so you can imagine how bad that went. I also had to wear at least fifty different dresses for it. It took around four days to complete the video.
“Oh, Whitney!” Casey sings in a sickly sweet voice from downstairs. “Time to get up.”
And with that, I bury my face back into my extra cushiony pillow.
Precisely one hour later, Casey and I are heading into the agencies main building in New York City. Alan, my bodyguard is following closely behind, his eyes darting between people. HIs stiff and hostile posture screams ‘stay away from me’.
If he wasn’t my bodyguard and if I didn’t know him personally, I would be steering clear of him. But Alan’s a big softie to me.
The receptionist at the lavish desk flashes a smile to us and begins to type again. Some people sat in the waiting area stare at me in awe. It still baffles me how these people can recognize me when I have large sunglasses covering a bit of my face; my hair is tied neatly in a bun.
Casey once told me that celebrities have an aura of confidence around them. Its how they get so much attention, how they are noticed. Along with their stylish outfits, gorgeous looks, they have an air of confidence around them. She taught me how to act and deal with the public.
It was very strange at first. Learning how to act in public was something everyone was taught young yet there I was, being taught it again. But differently.
I felt so pressured to learn everything. How to walk, talk and eat. How to act and what to wear.
At first, I was terrified. The paparazzi were horrifying. I felt so exposed when I saw private matters on the front pages of magazines. But as time passed, I learned.
I now walk straight, with a smile on my face all of the time. I talk professionally, with seriousness. My voice demands attention, it demands to be heard yet it's soft and calming. My style of clothing changed. I wear classy and elegant clothes out for meetings, interviews, and activities. But when I’m myself; I’m going out to have fun or to an after party with my friends, I will wear more...revealing clothes.
Currently, I’m wearing a sweet but classy white summer dress. It shows off my ‘flawless’ skin and body as Casey constantly reminds me. My golden blonde hair is tied in a high ponytail and I’m wearing blood red lipstick—my signature lipstick.
Bangles are around my wrist which makes metallic noises whenever I move; I have a small diamond necklace around my neck. Finally, I’m wearing my five—inch white high heels that go with my dress.
Two years ago, I never would have worn clothing like this. I never had the confidence in dresses or even remotely revealing clothes.
Oh, how I wish they could see me right now, face—to—face.
“Let’s keep moving,” Casey says lowly next to me, eyeing some rather suspicious looking men standing in the waiting room by the windows. I catch her fear quickly and speed up.
The paparazzi always manage to find ways to get into this building. It's infuriating.
When the lift doors open with a ‘ding’, we squish ourselves inside it with a few other people. All of them are wearing neat business clothing and are carrying briefcases. The women have knee length pencil skirts; have their hair tied into neat buns.
When I step in, some recognize me and send me friendly, hopeful smiles, whilst the others stare down at their phones, having no clue I'm in the same room as them.
Thirty floors later and I’m strolling out of the lift to Lulu’s office. Her office has window walls that show everything inside her office.
Without knocking, I head in. Startled, she hops off of her desk chair and leans her knuckles against the table in front of her. When she sees my smirking face, she scowls. It's always nice to annoy her as soon as I see her.
“Whitney Winters, its lovely to see you again,” Lulu says through gritted teeth. She’s never liked me, I have no idea why, but from the second I met her, I was in her bad books. However, I know she doesn’t like anybody.
“Likewise Lulu,” I reply and drop myself on the chair in front of the desk. She rolls her eyes but doesn’t complain. Casey follows suit but sits down more formally, whilst I’m sat more casually. In the presence of these people, I don’t care how I act. I don’t have to put a performance on for them.
Lulu clears her throat and sits back down on her spinny chair. She has a large, wooden desk that has papers staked up. Behind her, on her wall are framed news articles from previous clients. I notice one for Angelina Jolie and even Chris Pratt. Even the article that first announced me is framed.
I bet she hated having to put it on her wall of fame.
“Right so it has come to my attention that you haven’t been seen studying as much anymore Whitney,” Lulu begins, pulling a notepad and pen out. “As you are still eighteen, you still have to study. Celebrity or not. We know you have been privately with your tutor but that’s not enough anymore. Some people are worried that you are falling behind with your studies and that you’re not making normal friends anymore.”
Oh god, I hate how this is sounding.
Several emotions flash on my face. Confusion. Fear. Anger. And more. She pauses for a second, her blue eyes flickering between Casey and then back at me. For the first time ever, Lulu looks nervous. If I wasn’t in this state, I would have laughed.
She swallows and continues, “Whitney, we want you to go back to high school.”
And then I burst.
“Hell no!” I growl and jump up from my seat. There is no way I’m going back to high school.
“I’m sorry but it has already been decided, Whitney,” Lulu says with sympathy, although, not sounding sympathetic at all. I bet inside, she’s cackling like the evil witch she is. I’m now going to refer to her as an evil witch.
“I refuse to go.” I fire and cross my arms to show my disobedience.
Lulu darts her eyes to Casey for help. Yeah, like that will help. I think sarcastically.
“Whitney,” Casey starts in a soft voice. “This is for your benefit. We are getting worried about you. You are acting differently and you know it. I just want you to have a taste of normality again. For a while at least.”
But doesn’t she understand I’m happy? Sure, I sometimes break down crying in the shower after hearing some comments the press make but that’s to be expected. They are cruel. My whole outside persona may be fake but I am happy. I do smile genuinely sometimes. Take my interview last night with Hilary.
But you trust Casey. She’s always looking out for you so maybe you should consider it. A part of me reasons. I do trust Casey, she’s my best friend.
Ugh! This inner battle I’m having with myself is going to give me a headache.
“Say I was to agree to this, how long would I have to attend? Where would I be going? Who would I be staying with?” I hesitantly ask. I’m not saying I agree yet, I’m only gathering more information.
“Well, we think until May which is in a few months. Casey is your legal guardian so she will be staying with you in a house we recently bought. And...” Lulu stops again and swallows nervously. “You’ll be going back to where you were born, FairHill Greene.”
My knees feel weak at the sound of that name. I’m overcome with memories of my birthplace, of the place I grew up. This is some sick joke, right? There is no way they’d take me back to where I was born? Where Anastasia Claire lived.
The media knows me as Whitney, not Anastasia. They have no idea I was Anastasia. When I did my first film and shoot, I was already Whitney. Anastasia was hidden from everybody. Surprisingly, my parents never spoke up about me being their daughter. I guess they never really cared. And that’s why I can’t go back.
I can’t see them again. I’m not Anastasia, I’m Whitney. The classy, stunning girl who has millions of followers on Instagram, who has millions of dollars from work and is on the front covers of magazines nearly every week.
“This is a joke right. A sick joke.” I mumble, disbelief in my voice. I’m waiting for them to jump up and shout ‘jokes’ but they’re not.
Casey shakes her head, “No, it's not.”
My body collapses on the seat again, the cushion making a noise when I fall on it.
“Why?” I ask quietly, hurt in my voice. “Why would you make me go back there after knowing how I felt about that place?”
Casey sighs and shuffles in her seat to face me. “Whitney, this is for you. We think you’re unhappy which is going to affect your career soon. We want you to go back and face everything you’ve been running from. We want you to see your family, ex—friends, teachers, and bullies. It's for you. To have you find redemption from your thoughts. If you find the answers you’ve been desperate to hear for years, you will be happy again. This is for your well—being.”
Stunned at her explanation, my mouth falls open. In a way, I understand her. I’ve had this weight on my shoulders for a long time now, holding me down. If I go back...and maybe forgive, I will feel better. Then I can completely move on without any unfinished business.
But I’m scared. I’ve been running for so long, I’m a different person. What would it be like to go back? To face them again?
How would they perceive me?
I bite my lip and run a hand down my cheeks.
“So...you want me to go to find the answers I’m looking for and then I can go? All I have to do is get answers and move on from my past?” I question and they both nod. I guess I could do that.
Anastasia wouldn’t have. She would still be too scared. But I’m not Anastasia, I’m Whitney. I’m strong, confident and fearless. I put on an act and show people that I’m amazing. I don’t let people bring me down. I let them hit me a few times in the boxing ring, I shed some tears but I always wipe them away and get back up.
I’m strong. I can act strong and show them Whitney Winters is amazing.
“Fine...I’ll go. But only to prove them wrong.” I answer and they both give me smiles. Lulu smiled. That’s new.
“Good,” Casey chirps happily, “even I can’t wait to see everyone’s faces when you step into school.”
“Wait, they don't know?” My head snaps to hers.
“Nope,” she pops the ‘p’. “It's going to be a surprise for everyone. The media are going to have a field day.”