When Jeannie Klisiewicz was on campus, she was constantly keeping up with her favorite celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres. Since "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" began in 2003, Klisiewicz, a 2008 University graduate, has entered more than 100 contests and commented on countless blogs and videos. She wanted desperately to be a part of the show.
For five years she entered contests without winning, but she kept trying. It was that persistence that caught the eye of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and one day, she received a call from DeGeneres herself.
"Ellen called me and said something like, 'We know that you have applied a lot of times, and we know you have never won. We just wanted to let you know that you still haven't won anything but to keep trying,'" Klisiewicz said. "It was very funny... I was laughing and crying. I was so excited."
DeGeneres invited Klisiewicz to be a guest on the show, paying for hotel and transportation expenses. After her whirlwind trip to California, Klisiewicz came back to Chicago and life continued on, as if nothing had happened. About a month later, she received another phone call from "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," inviting her back on the show the next day.
Klisiewicz had no idea that one day would change her life forever.
A spokeswoman for the show said it was Klisiewicz's energy that caught DeGeneres' attention. Her eagerness and personality led DeGeneres to offer her the opportunity to be a red carpet correspondent for the AFI Night at the Movies.
Interviewing stars like Cameron Diaz, Sean Connery, Mike Myers and more, Klisiewicz said it was an experience she cannot even describe.
"I would see the stars getting out of their cars, and I would be freaking out and so nervous," Klisiewicz said. "But as soon as they would step up on the start, I was completely fine. It was like talking to a normal person. But then, when it would wrap up and the next celebrity would get out of the car, I would get nervous all over again."
Klisiewicz's favorite celebrity she interviewed at the event was Jodie Foster.
"Had I met her doing this or met her randomly walking around, you could tell she would be nice no matter where she was," Klisiewicz said. "She was just so awesome, such a nice lady, enthusiastic. I was no one, and she seemed so happy to be talking to me."
It was her work on the red carpet that led producers of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to bring her back on the show and have DeGeneres offer her a job, in front of everyone. She had such a great attitude and a wonderful energy that they thought she would be a great fit for the show, a spokeswoman for the show said.
"Oh good lord in heaven," Klisiewicz said. "Even now to this day, I am surprised that I didn't start crying because I couldn't believe that number one, I was getting a job, and number two, I was getting a job with a show that I love. I had no idea that this was going to happen. My entire experience there was just surprise after surprise. I couldn't do anything else except say of course I would take the position."
Her friends and family have been supportive of the whole process, especially Klisiewicz's best friend, her mother Terri Klisiewicz.
"It was kind of a flukey thing that happened," Terri Klisiewicz said. "But she had been a fan of Ellen's. Her goal was always to meet her and she attained that goal, and a little bit more, which is wonderful and very exciting."
Klisiewicz said no matter what happens now, she is going to roll with what happens and enjoy the opportunity to work for someone who she truly admires.
"It's going to be really hard, but I think that I have been given an opportunity that no one can pass up," Klisiewicz said. "My brother told me that this isn't just a once and a lifetime opportunity because this doesn't happen once in many people's lifetimes. Not many people are as blessed or lucky as I am to have this happen, so I am going to do it and do it the best that I possibly can and not look back."