Keri Rodden has her foot in the door of something bigger than she allows herself to imagine.
TV star Ellen DeGeneres – arguably one of the greatest talents on television today – has taken quite a fancy to Rodden, whose infectious energy lit up an episode of the “Ellen” show, back in January 2011. Rodden’s “big hair” photo from the 1980s was a hit, but it was Rodden’s over-the-top enthusiasm that drew everyone in.
You can watch that clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m51QglsMnI
DeGeneres was enthralled by Rodden’s manic happiness, and brought her back to reward her in a truly spectacular way. Heck, if you have a couple of minutes, you should watch that clip too. It’s guaranteed to make you smile:
At the Grammys, Rodden delivered the goods. She was completely starstruck, a fan on a natural high, and some stars were yanked from their celebrity bubbles and pulled back to earth – Ray Lamontagne, for instance – by her unabashed adoration.
Really, it was something to watch. Keri was a tornado with feet, sweeping up anyone who came within range. Watch this clip again to see what I mean. And watch right to the end, to see how Ellen rewards her:
Rodden has been back to the show three other times, including another red carpet stint, this time at the American Music Awards.
It all places Rodden, a native of Kilbride who now lives in Oakville, Ontario, in an enviable if indescribable situation.
She is loved by one of television’s greatest (and most influential) talents, has been watched by millions of viewers and met some of the biggest stars in the music business.
She definitely has her foot in the door of something very big. But what, exactly?
Even Rodden doesn’t know the answer to that one. In an interview, she agreed with my assessment, that she is poised on the brink of a fantastic mystery. However, she has not pushed the show to hire her.
“If they want to send me for something crazy and silly I’m up for it, and they know that. I wrote Ellen a thank you letter and made a video too, saying I will come and do anything for you at any time at the drop of a hat. So they are well aware of my situation. I am a waitress, so I am replaceable and anyone can cover my shift.”
People have told Rodden that she needs to make more of this opportunity, but she disagrees.
“A lot of people tell me to ask her for a job, but that’s not me. And doing that is not going to make it happen. I’m very grateful for what she’s done for me and I don’t want to expect more. People say ‘you’re crazy Keri, you’re going to let this moment pass.’ But that’s not why I’m here. I’m not here for more and more. I just enjoyed what I have.”
Rodden said she has never had any personal contact with Ellen, outside of the on-stage appearances.
“Most of my contact is with the producers,” she said. “The only time I’ve had one on one with Ellen was on the stage, when cameras were rolling. And to be honest I can’t even remember it. I was way too high... And that was the only time I’ve gotten with her.”
But that was enough to turn Rodden into a “bouncing lunatic,” she said, adding that DeGeneres has always been one of her most important idols.
“It’s not like I was on Jay Leno or just some other celebrity show… the fact that I got to meet the woman who I admire, who contributes to my happiness, is just unreal. And I think that’s why I lost it on the very first show. When I looked over and looked into her eyes, and she was right there, right next to me, that was when it hit me. I was living in the moment. Omigod that’s Ellen! … I’ve been there six times now but it’s still new to me. Even talking about it now, I feel that energy. Like, omigod I was on Ellen!”
It’s difficult for Rodden to define what DeGeneres sees in her – why the star keeps calling her back – but the producers do offer suggestions.
“Her producers told me that, as much as she likes to have the celebrities on her show – and for good reason – it’s the real people like you that Ellen admires. They are always telling me ‘Keri, Ellen loves you. No. We mean, she REALLY loves you.’ I’m just so grateful and so happy for that. It’s really overwhelming because I’m just a regular girl. And I guess we’re all just regular people at the end of the day. I think that’s what it is, that I’m just a regular person. I’m not putting on an act.”
That first appearance on “Ellen” changed her life instantly, Rodden said. Suddenly, everyone wanted a piece of her. And many of the online comments were mean and hateful, which took her by surprise.
“I had a hard time with that at first. I cried. It broke my heart. There were people who said they were embarrassed to be Canadian, that I had ruined the reputation of Newfoundlanders, and so on. It was really hard because I was just being me. To embarrass Canada by just being me and being happy? That was really hard. I cried for two days. It was really depressing. People are just mean… I told Ellen’s people about that, and one of their producers took me by the hand and said that Ellen gets that too… There are bad people out there who are going to say stuff. People are going to try to bring you down, no matter what, so now I’m more toughened up to it. I don’t enjoy it but I’m strong enough to handle it.”
It was all so much in those early days that Rodden had to take more than a week off work.
“City TV showed up, local newspapers showed up, and I couldn’t handle it, didn’t know how to handle it. So I stayed home and kind of waited for it to pass.”
Rodden has also had job offers, mostly for sales positions, but she turned them all down. However, there was one tentative offer to become a special events correspondent for CTV’s Canada AM that caught her attention. Alas, it fell off the table when the network was bought out by Bell Media.
“That’s really all that has come of it. It would be cool if something did. A lot of people tell me I should chase it and get an agent and do this and do that… but I don’t know. I’m not looking for fame. I’d sure like to have a cool job, making a bit more money, that’d be awesome. But the fame I’m not looking for, or being a big TV celebrity, that sort of thing. I’m happy being a normal girl with some really cool experiences.”
Rodden was married last year but the honeymoon plans were dashed when her husband’s father passed away. Which is why DeGeneres gifted Rodden with the trip to Hawaii.
“I waitress here and make good money at that, but my husband is the real breadwinner – not that he’s rich or anything, but without him I probably wouldn’t have the nice house that I have. So when I won that trip, that was something he didn’t have to worry about. That felt so good. We had just started to save for our trip so that was a big relief off his shoulders and it felt really awesome. It made me feel like a million dollars. David has helped me become who I am and made me a better woman, so for me to say, ‘I got this 10 grand, don’t worry about it,’ was such a good feeling.”
Rodden remembers that moment as an emotional blur. She moved from the stage to the green room, still in tears, when a producer handed Rodden a phone and suggested she call David.
“And he said, ‘Now Keri, just listen to what you just said. You’re in the green room at the “Ellen” show and you just got us a trip to Hawaii. Now just take that in.’ Because that was massive. I’m absolutely blessed.”
We will almost certainly be seeing more of Rodden on “Ellen” next season. After her most recent appearance, Rodden said goodbye to the producers as if it was the last time – as she always does – but they were having none of it.
“The producers said ‘Keri, we’re sure we’ll see you again.’ And then, when another producer walked me to the car, she said ‘Keri, we’ll see you again next year.’ Sometimes you just have a feeling and I don’t feel like this is the last time. I know that I will be back there again. I don’t think our time is over yet.”
Even if she is never called back, Rodden has no regrets.
“Just the fact that Ellen knows who I am is crazy. And the fact that she said she loves me is even crazier. It’s mind blowing.”