In Season 1 of ‘One Tree Hill’; with his entry into the ‘popular’ clique after making the game winning shot for the Ravens; Brooke Davis says to Lucas Scott:
“How many moments in life can you point to and say- that’s when it all changed?”
Life moves so quickly and decisions are made every day; that sometimes we fail to recognize these big moments in life that are true turning points for us. But being able to look back years or even months later and having the ability to point and say ‘that’s when it all changed’, is exactly what I got only 1 year ago.
For me, this life-changing moment occurred in October 2013, when I attended the ‘One Tree Hill’ convention From Wilmington To Paris, which you can read about in more detail here.
This moment propelled me into the best year of my life, with amazing opportunities and change occurring in a way I never imagined possible. It was a true change, given the fact that I was no longer working in the career I had been building for almost 5 years. I also started this website to fuel a passion for writing that would really put myself out there for the world to see.
Above all, this moment gave me the courage to push on and step outside the confines of comfort I had surrounded myself in. Because I needed more passion in my life’s choices. Something to feel truly happy about, and ensure the future I was working towards was what I really wanted.
From Wilmington To Paris 2
From Wilmington To Paris 2 would be an even bigger spectacle than the previous convention as some MAJOR guests were coming to this one which had everyone excited-and there were 3 more guests than the previous year as well, totaling 11 stars in one weekend!
If Chad Michael Murray (Lucas Scott) hadn’t cancelled at the very last minute, we truly would have been in Tree Hill heaven, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it, giving us 4 of the original 5 stars to meet during this one event. But that was ok!
I was especially excited as I would be meeting Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis) and Paul Johannson (Dan Scott) for the first time, and these were two of my favourite actors going around!
But more than anything, I was so excited to see Hilarie Burton again. The one person I really connected with last time; and the person I wanted to express my thanks to because of a moment which resulted in major changes in my life. I felt so grateful to have this opportunity at all.
So, there was A LOT to be excited for on this fabulous weekend in Paris!
FWTP2: Day 1 of the ‘One Tree Hill’ Convention
As the convention was so big compared to last year, this time around there were selected guests appearing on one day only.
On Day 1, there would be 7 guests in attendance: Hilarie Burton (Peyton Sawyer), James Lafferty (Nathan Scott), Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley James Scott), Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis), Paul Johansson (Dan Scott), Antwon Tanner (Antwon ‘Skills’ Taylor) and Torrey De Vitto (Nanny Carrie).
The convention began with a video montage which truly got the spine-tingling excitement working. Last year it began with the quote, “There is only one Tree Hill, and it’s your home”, with a montage of clips to Gavin De Graw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be,” and it was amazing! I had tears, I won’t even lie!
This year, it was another classic song to the series, Feeder’s “Feeling A Moment” and the memorable quote of Nathan’s in the final episode, “It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And that someday is yesterday. And this is your life.”
These montages make you remember all the key moments of the show; and they put the entire crowd into a frenzy knowing that the people we were seeing on screen, our favourite characters, were seconds away from standing in the same room as us. It is a pretty amazing feeling to have!
After the guests all came out on stage, everyone was excited. The time was finally here!
The passes at the convention had us seated in particular rows, with VIP’s in front, then Platinum, followed by Gold and ending with Silver. This time around, I had the Gold pass which gave me certain extras like 5 autographs and 2 photo shoots with the guests of my choosing. But I had to buy the rest that I wanted, including any guests who were popular (and would sell out) and the EXTRA guest, Sophia.
As I had already been before, I didn’t feel the need to re-meet some of them when once was enough and I would still be able to ask a question when they were on the panel anyway. The other thing about the passes is it guarantees you a closer seat to the stage, but you can shift around and get close enough, especially when lining up to ask a question, so the Gold was good enough for me on this occasion.
Pass by pass, the rows emptied to have their autographs with the guests. I was getting excited and nervous about my turn as some of them I had never met before and I hoped they were as nice as I thought they’d be. I was also hoping that Hilarie remembered me and that I would have the chance to tell her a snapshot version of the past year, and why it meant so much to tell her about it.
The autograph signings are the best place to chat with the guests as you can take a little more time than the photo shoots allow, even when it is busy. I always ensure I get to say what I want to them, and luckily for me I managed it this time around as well.
All of the guests were friendly which was a nice experience to have. Though I met James and Bethany last year so I didn’t really speak to them again; but I watched them when they spoke to fans and they were genuine which was nice to see. Antwon and Torrey were also friendly which was good.
FWTP2: Paul Johansson…I LOVE YOU!
The biggest stand out of the day was Paul. If I didn’t already love his character I would now. He was by far the friendliest there. The best part about seeing that, is because he plays the ‘evil’ Dan Scott; seeing a genuinely nice guy come out of his real personality is so amazing. It kind of throws you when you know his character as being one particular version and here is this awesome, friendly guy too.
I told him he had the best lines in the show, which he does! C’mon; “I’m waiting for the glue to dry’ -I bloody love that scene! And I was completely thrilled to be offered a high-five in response! It was awesome! I high-fived Dan Scott, which was a pretty memorable moment!
Later on, I also asked Paul a question when he was on the panel, about the scenes where Dan and Deb play pranks on each other and if there were moments that didn’t make it into the episode. As I went to walk away after he answered, Paul said the “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” chant, that us Aussies say. In complete shock, I obviously had to respond to this with the obligatory “Oi, Oi, Oi”! It was such an awesome moment! One of the highlights of the day for sure! How cool it was that we had this hilarious moment in front of the whole convention! I bloody LOVE him even more now! But his character is by far the funniest so it isn’t too hard to do anyway!
My photo shoot with Paul was also memorable for me as Paul took the time to thank me for attending AND he said he loved my accent! Swoon! I was thrilled to meet him, and to have many little moments built up around the day with him, it just made it that much more happy and exciting. What a stand-up guy and friendly person! The fact that he made the effort with me is something I will never forget. Danny Boy- you are a legend!
FWTP2: Sophia…Tears and All!
Sophia was also nice, but very busy. As the EXTRA guest she had a more demanding schedule than the others, and was literally in town for one day to meet everyone. It was very nice to meet her, and she has the most killer legs I have ever seen! I should know, since she walked past me in the corridor as she was walking to her photo shoot; and as I was sitting on the floor charging my phone at the outlet…I had an eye-to-leg view of them! How she also stood for 2 hours straight in 6-inch heels to take just her individual photos is beyond me. The fact that she made the effort to come to the convention at all is a huge plus in my book, even if my time with her was short due to the demand she had from everyone.
Sophia’s Q and A panel, was one of the most honest of the day; as she showed herself as being true to who we see on social media. She spoke about equality, love and how women should support each other and not compete. It was not in a pushing it down our throats way, but in a truly honest answer to a question. You can tell when someone believes in what they are saying. The most touching part in her panel though was when she was asked about the final episode and she started crying because the memory of a character she loved still lies deep within her. Her love for B.Davis shines through, which explains why she said Brooke is the only character she could ever play.
I remember reading an interview she gave about all of this; but to hear her actually speak about this made me have tears. It is moments like this that truly highlight why this show means so much to us. Us and them. These characters are real and inspiring and memorable; and as much as this was a major part of our lives; it was an even bigger part to theirs. To see the love they have for their characters is just so touching as a fan. I will never forget it. Sophia also read an email poem from Austin Nichols (they must still be friends after everything), which was also so sweet and lovely of him to write…it was a long poem! But we all appreciated it!
FWTP2: Hilarie…When Thank You Is Never Enough
Hilarie Burton was the guest I was most happy to see. Following my incredible experience last year where she labelled me ‘her favourite Aussie’; I was both nervous and excited to see her again.
During the autographs session, I approached her and said hello and asked if she remembered me, to which she did! Then I proceeded to as quickly as possible fill her in on how much of an impact meeting her had on my life. I told her about sitting and listening to her speak so passionately about her career, and how I realized I couldn’t be a teacher upon moving to London. That blew her away.
She asked what career I was in now, and upon responding that I was at Disney, she was like “Wow! That’s a dream job right!?” (She is a fan of ‘Frozen’ too-who isn’t!?) We spoke about it all in a little more detail, while I tried to keep my shaking nerves at bay!
And as I turned to walk away, I will never forget it: I could see the emotion in her eyes; and as I was already quite emotional about what the past year had meant to me, we were both just looking at each other in a silent conversation that said so much. It was just lovely! I thanked her again and she said to me, “I am SO proud of you!” It was a truly amazing moment in my life that words really can’t do justice; and I am glad I have that memory for myself.
I also gave her a letter with a very coherent version of the past year, which made me happy knowing she has that; and hopefully it reminds her of that one girl whose life changed because of her words and her kindness that time she went to Paris for a convention.
Later on, when I had my photo with her, she grabbed me in a hug that was just like a friend would give and when I compare the two photos I have with her I can truly see the difference time has made. The first photo shows my happiness at having been inspired by this amazing person and my surprise at our connection and how she remembered me. But the second photo shows all of this and more. I don’t compare my photo with others who attended; but I know that this photo speaks volumes about the connection I truly had with her and how happy she was to have met me. This second photo shows everything. And I am so glad I have this to look back on, to remind me of when my life changed; and how I was able to thank the person who helped inspire it.
I also had a ticket to the meeting room later in the day with Hilarie which was a great experience, as I was able to spend 30 minutes with about 20 others, listening to her speak about anything we asked. I asked her about working in film and tv production, and the answer she gave made me happy that I am heading in that direction hopefully, with things to consider if I do. She also told us that not since she last filmed ‘One Tree Hill’ had Sophia, Bethany and her been together. So, it has been about 5 years since that time! They are all so busy with their lives, it is nice that events like these bring us and them together.
Hilarie is a caring person, mum and wife (yes, wife!) and being able to see into her life and the happiness she has was wonderful. Chad and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, were also co-stars in a production in Mexico recently, so they and Chad were at the same hotel and she said it would have looked really funny to a OTH fan seeing the two of them sitting by the pool with a little boy.
Looking at her, I can see how she has grown into this amazing woman who protects her family but is open and honest about what she has learnt in life. Every interaction I had with her was just incredible! She really is content with her life and it shows.
We finished Day 1, having met some amazing people and loving this show even more. Being able to stand amongst that room of people was a gift and I am so thankful I was given the chance to be there. What an amazing day!
FWTP2: Day 2 of the ‘One Tree Hill’ Convention
After such an awesome first day, the second day was going to be far more slower!
This time around there were only 4 guests in attendance: Shantel Van Santen (Quinn James), Robert Buckley (Clay Evans), Stephen Colletti (Chase Adams) and Kate Voegele (Mia Catalano).
After a busy day the day before, it was nice to take it a little easier.
We started with autographs again in the morning, but since I had already met Shantel and Robert last year I didn’t get another autograph from them. BUT I did get to meet Stephen and Kate which was very exciting as I loved them both! The best part about the day was all 4 of these guests were fun. So although there were not as many guests, everyone still had an enjoyable time throughout the day with them.
But, if you do not speak French the day does drag a little, as the day had more gaps in it than the Saturday, and when the organisers spoke about the upcoming conventions for about an hour and named confirmed guests like Lea Michelle, us english speaking folk had no idea what they were saying. I found that last year they spoke far more English than they did this year, which was a little disappointing since even with basic French understanding, it wasn’t always easy to understand what was happening. But, during the interaction with the guests, we were always able to keep up as they speak English too, and the translator host was great. But hey, that’s what you get when attending a French convention!
FWTP2: Stephen Colletti…A genuinely nice guy!
I was so excited when Stephen Colletti was announced as a guest as I have been a fan of his for years. I am not ashamed to admit I LOVE reality tv and fully enjoy watching ‘Laguna Beach’ and ‘The Hills’.
I wasn’t sure how Stephen would be in real life, as the version we see on these shows could have been a complete act. But, I am happy to say he was so NICE! He truly has a friendliness to him and was able to joke around when talking with me during the autograph session.
I was also really impressed with how he answered my question about reality tv and how real it is; (but I won’t disclose it as it isn’t appropriate to do so on here; you’ll just have to ask him yourself if you get the chance (sorry!)) It was a really honest response which took me by surprise; and he really took the time to give me a proper answer to the question. I traveled to Laguna in May for the first time as well, so it was nice to talk to him about Laguna too…what an amazing place to grow up!
When I had my photo with him, he was again lovely and I told him how much of a pleasure it was to meet him. He really is a genuine guy-even if people had him making funny faces or pulling their hair in all sorts of directions. It was quite funny watching him have to do all these poses…it gave me a laugh to watch it.
FWTP2: Kate Voegele…What A Sweetheart!
Kate was truly lovely. She was energetic and happy and was completely approachable. During my autograph with her we spoke about the UK and Australia, and how she has never been and it was a really lovely conversation. I really enjoy Kate’s music, especially “Sweet Silver Lining” which is just a beautiful song. But she has many that I really enjoy listening to.
When it came to the photo shoots, it was so funny watching hers with other people, but especially the person in front of me who asked her to jump in the air for the photo. She was a true sport and did it, but i’m not sure how good a photo that turned out to be. And luckily, she was wearing boots so she could jump…any of the other girls in their heels would never have been able to do it.
When I had my photo with her I told her I wasn’t going to make her jump in the air, which gave her a laugh; and she told me that “whatever they ask me to do, I just do it!“. So, she was a really fun and down to Earth person which was lovely to see.
FWTP2: Robert & Shantel…BFFs!
One of the best things about conventions is you get to see the real friendships of the actors.
Although I didn’t interact with Robert and Shantel much in this convention, based on what I did see both times, and what they put on Instagram, it is so sweet to see the true friendship between these two! They started the show together in Season 7 (and prepared by doing a marathon of Seasons 1-6 , to catch up on what they missed); and years later their friendship is truly a close one.
Seeing them giggle and know each other so well when they were on the panel was just lovely. At one point, Robert had his head in her lap as he lay down on the couch, and she had her feet on the table. Seeing moments like this truly made our hearts melt.
They really are sweet people too, and friendly. Shantel is probably the most elegant of the entire group. She is stunning in everything she wears and just so nice! I really enjoyed meeting her again and having another photo with her. She has a real genuine disposition making everyone want to be her best friend.
FWTP2: The End
This weekend was full on! Writing about it was even more so as you can see from how long this is!
But I enjoyed every moment, and feel lucky for having met the friends I have made over the past 2 years from France as well as the States, Ireland, UK and Europe. As the lone Aussie again, I feel proud having waved the flag for us over both years there. It has been a truly incredible experience I can never fully encompass into words.
Guests Events have announced a From Wilmington To Paris 3 next year, but I don’t think I will be going as I will most likely be back in Australia, preparing for a Canadian move. But after all of these encounters I don’t need to go back either.
I’ve met majority of the cast of my favourite TV show over the past 2 years which is pretty special. It is a once (or twice!) in a lifetime occurrence for most people and I feel so blessed I was able to enjoy it at all.
This TV show helped me grow as a person, with each storyline and episode keeping me glued to the screen and wanting more in my life.
Visiting Wilmington was amazing and I can’t wait to return next year hopefully for my 4th visit, because it truly feels like my home away from home.
Meeting the stars of this show; well that has changed everything and made me love it all even more.
It’s funny, but the quote Lucas says to Peyton, when he decides to play for the Ravens after being inspired by her artwork; has never felt more relevant to me than it does today:
“Your art matters. It’s what got me here”.
This ‘art’ that these actors created helped me grow and inspired me to do more in my life. It truly is what got me here. To London. To Canada. To wherever I end up. And I will always be thankful for that.
To Hilarie especially, I will be forever grateful that I was able to meet her twice and that she; out of everyone, would be the turning point I didn’t know I needed in my life. I will never forget it.
I will forever love this show.
There is only one ‘One Tree Hill’ and I will always call it home.