Jenna was lovely to meet, though there was a somewhat awkward/humorous ending. Please read on:
Before last year, I didn't think I'd ever go to a comic con. I don't watch many TV shows or movies (mostly sports like football), so I was surprised when I started watching Doctor Who late last year and it really captured my imagination. At the heart of that was the Impossible Girl, Clara Oswald, played by the lovely Jenna Coleman. I was really touched by Clara's story, and when I saw that Jenna was scheduled to appear at a Doctor Who convention near my hometown of Chicago last November, I thought I was in luck and bought tickets to meet her. Unfortunately, she cancelled two days before the show, and I was quite heartbroken. So when I saw on New Year's Eve that Jenna would be appearing at LFCC this year, I immediately started thinking about how to make a trip across the pond possible.
Over the first few months of this year, my dad and I started planning a holiday in London that would allow us to do some sightseeing and hopefully meet Jenna at LFCC before taking the Eurostar to Paris and spending a few days there. This meant getting our passports (as I'd never been out of the USA) and doing loads of planning. We arrived in London on the 23rd and pretty much felt like zombies during our first day there after getting zero sleep on the flight over. On the 24th we went to Wimbledon and Stamford Bridge for tours. On the 25th we were planning to visit some Doctor Who shooting locations like the National Gallery and the Tower of London, but the record heat in London that day meant that we stayed at our hotel for most of the day. On Friday we visited Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace and picked up our Jenna Diamond Passes (Batch 1).
Finally, the big day came on Saturday. I bought flowers for Jenna, took a bus to the Olympia, and queued with my dad in the rain for a pretty long time before finally getting to go inside. Eventually we found Jenna's autograph table, but there was no sign of her, and thoughts that she might've canceled again floated through my mind. But soon enough she arrived, and before I knew it it was my turn. I'd read that Jenna is typically reserved but polite during autograph signings, and that was exactly how she was to me. I gave her the flowers I had bought earlier, and she thanked me for them. I then told her about how my dad and I had flown in from Chicago, and she said that she hoped the jet lag wasn't too bad and asked how long we were going to be in London. After that, I told her about how I started watching Doctor Who last year and was really touched by Clara's story and told her I thought she was fantastic, and she seemed appreciative and thanked me again as I shook her hand.
Not too long after that, it was time for Jenna's AM photoshoot. Thanks to my Diamond, I didn't have to wait very long, and when it came to be my turn she flashed me a big smile and said hi, and I pretty much went weak in the knees. She did a Doctor Who-ish pose, and I was going to put my arm around her shoulder, but because of her pose I had trouble finding her shoulder and it wound up looking a bit funny in the photo. Right after the photo, I sheepishly asked her if I could have a hug, and I pretty much blacked out for a second. Before I knew it she was hugging me, and I was so stunned that neither of my arms actually made it around her (I probably kind of looked like the 12th Doctor when Clara would hug him lol). I was in such a daze afterward (and a member of staff was telling me to move along) that I simply walked away without even acknowledging Jenna, which bothered me once I realized it.
Later I sat in my hotel room a bit overwhelmed. Happy that I'd finally met Jenna and gotten an auto, photo and a hug, but still somewhat bothered that I didn't acknowledge her and have some sort of "thank you, goodbye" moment after the hug. It felt... incomplete. The next morning, I decided that instead of doing the sightseeing that I had originally planned for Thursday, I would use the Sunday admission tickets that I'd originally bought for Malin Akerman's (cancelled) photoshoot to go to the show and meet Jenna again and try to make things right. So, off to the show we went again, and thankfully this time we didn't have to queue outside. I bought a photo but wasn't sure about an auto because I didn't know what my VQ number would be and how long I might have to wait. I went upstairs and got my VQ ticket, then later went to Jenna's photoshoot. She again smiled and said hi to me when it was my turn, and my hand found her shoulder this time as she went with more of a regular pose. Thinking that I was probably leaving the show at that point, I extended a hand for a handshake, and Jenna took it as I told her to take care, and she smiled and thanked me and said it was nice to meet me.
That would've been a great ending to my experience with her, but my photo with her turned out nice, and I decided that since I might never get another chance to meet her, I'd stick around and try to get her to sign the photo. After I waited a few hours and had lunch, Jenna returned to her table, and because she didn't have as many VQs that day, my turn came sooner than I thought. I really should've used more of the time I waited to think about what I would say/do during my final meeting with Jenna, but unfortunately I didn't, and so after she signed my photo all I could think of to do was smile and sheepishly extend my hand for another handshake (which was daft on my part because I'd already shaken her hand earlier after my photo with her). With a quizzical look on her face, she hesitated for a couple seconds, then said, "Fist bump!" I closed my extended hand into a fist, and Jenna proceeded to fist bump me so hard (probably not something she's used to doing) that she actually burst out laughing afterward, cracking up the staff member sitting next to her as I chuckled and turned a bit red with embarrassment. I told Jenna to take care again, and she thanked me and told me to do the same as I walked away with my signed photo.
In terms of the show itself, it was definitely a bit overwhelming to see the sea of people there (I expected big crowds, but wow). It was fun to see so many people dressed up as Doctors, Amy Ponds, etc. and compliment some of them on their costumes. I even saw a couple of Daleks rolling around on Sunday on my way to Jenna's photoshoot. I've spent parts of the past week wondering why Jenna wouldn't shake my hand again and thinking about how I could've done things differently. Did she find it a bit odd that I wanted another handshake and she wanted to do something different? Perhaps she's a bit of a germaphobe and prefers not to shake too many hands? I've been trying to tell myself that it was a matter of personal preference on her part and that I shouldn't take it personally. I know I'm probably overthinking this... my dad told me to focus more on the funny ending than the awkward beginning. Whatever the reason, it resulted in that fun moment at the end, so who knows, maybe it was meant to happen that way. Considering the weekend that Jenna had (being overbooked and having to deal with some inappropriate behavior), I was happy to put a smile on her face, even if it was a little embarrassing for me. Overall, my experience meeting Jenna was definitely more positive than negative, and I realize that I'm very lucky to have had the chance to meet my favorite actress four times in two days.