When most people think of actor and musician Drake Bell, they think of the teenage Nickelodeon star most famous for his characters in The Amanda Show such as Kyle in “Totally Kyle” segment as well as his role as Drake Parker in the hilariously notorious duo “Drake and Josh”. However, after spending an evening with Bell and his crew, I soon realized that he has g
rown and reshaped his image tremendously from his younger years. Thanks to a woman who is an extremely special member of the Gladys family, I was invited to be a part of a demo reel filming that will be submitted to MTV in hopes of developing a show for Bell. What I didn’t realize in the beginning is that I was given the experience that most could only dream of.
On Friday June 6th, 2014, I started my evening at a casual dinner at a local family’s home. What started as one family conversing on the couch turned into many families coming through their door with children and teens who could not wait to see Bell arrive. Since Bell started his day at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and was soon followed by some recording in a local studio, he fell slightly behind the schedule I was given. This wasn’t because of going overtime laying down instrumental tracks in the studio, but because he refused to leave Children’s without visiting every child, giving as much individual attention as he could. While Bell was taking bites of Chicken Marsala in between signing everyone’s CDs and taking pictures with them, C.J. Abraham, a song writer, producer, and good friend of Drake, got to sit down and chat. Abraham told me that after every concert or event that Bell attends, Bell will take as much time as necessary to give each of his fans attention because, “that’s just how [Bell] is and always will be.” To me, this is the true testament of how an entertainer as prominent and evolved as Bell should interact with his adoring fans. At this point, I knew it was going to be an amazing experience to be a part of.
After dinner, I was invited to ride along with Bell and producer Chris as well as others to a youth Dek hockey game that Drake was going to play in. As we drove up to the rink, it seemed as if kids came flying out of nowhere to catch a glimpse of Bell before he got out of the car. It was incredible to see how kids as young as 6 years old were flocking to his side before he even had a chance to close the car door. While Bell headed towards the rink, he gracefully moved through the crowd grabbing phones to take selfies as well as signing anything ranging from pieces of paper to Dek hockey equipment. He started the game by dropping the ball then played a few minutes with the kids. Everyone surrounded the rink as he played and shortly after he stopped a line of people of all ages formed at the table where Bell was going to sign autographs. Once he arrived at the table, he spent at least 45 minutes taking pictures and signing autographs. Because of Bell’s personality, his manager had to speed up the process to get through the line by splitting up the line in pictures and autographs even though Drake did both for anyone waiting. From this point, we hurried back to the SUV and arrived at the pool party.
At a different local home, we arrived and hurried into filming for the next segment, which was a pool party scene. Kids of all ages were already swimming when we arrived and I hurried to change into a dress appropriate for the occasion. While I sat with C.J., Bell walked in and shook hands with all of his cheering fans. During this, however, a girl jokingly pushed another girl into the pool while she was holding her phone. Bell hurried to take the phone from the girl, shake out the water and ran the phone inside to be placed in rice. Again, all of the kids cheered for his resourcefulness. Next was the filming of Bell and I having a conversation next to a fire pit. At first, it was somewhat awkward not knowing where to start, but eventually the conversation flowed amongst a variety of topics. As nervous as I was to be filmed talking to someone as well-known as Bell, the conversation flowed freely and I could have honestly sat there and talked with him for hours.
After the pool party, we headed back to the studio to work on a possible song for Bell’s new album. The process of recording the song was unlike anything I had ever seen. The bouncing back and forth of ideas and the seamless lining up of instrumental recordings took about 4 hours just in the session that I attended; however, it was not the complete package yet. While the trumpeter, who was brought in at the last minute at 10 pm, played what Abraham had played on keyboard, everyone sat in the production area and ate pizza and cheese bread ordered by Bell, who was talking about possible live performances, ideas and venues. After 4 hours, time flew by quickly and we ended up leaving the studio at 2 am.
After the evening was done and we said our goodbyes, nothing could wipe the smile off of my face and the warm feelings in my heart. I can honestly say that spending the evening with Drake Bell and his team was a once in a lifetime experience that most could only dream of, but I had the pleasure of being a part of.